5 Reasons Your CV Was Binned

Let's face it, job hunting isn't easy. First, you have to find the job of your dreams and then you have to spend hours poring over your application, hoping that you'll get picked. If you want to secure an interview and get one step closer to working in your idea of career heaven, then your CV has to be airtight.

Your employer is likely to receive hundreds of applications for one role and it's estimated that they will only spend 5-7 seconds looking at your CV before deciding if you should progress to the next stage or not. You might be the best person for the job, but a simple spelling mistake or formatting issue could cause your CV to be overlooked.

However, it's not too late to change your CV and learn from your previous errors. If you've been unsuccessful in any past job application, here are five likely reasons why your CV was binned:

1. Failing to proofread

You might have written the seemingly ideal CV, perfectly structured and free from waffle, but a pesky typo can cause your application to be rejected. Shockingly, a recent survey found that one-third of all UK CVs contained at least one spelling error and the words "responsibility”, “liaise” and “university” were at the top of the list. If you make too many mistakes, your application is likely to be rejected but a generous employer might overlook just one or two; however, the online applicant tracking systems (ATS) won't be as forgiving and the bots might not even send your CV to your employer because of the errors.


“Call on your family and friends to help you out and ask if they can check it for any spelling or grammatical errors.”

If you want to avoid these fatal spelling mistakes, the only option is to proofread your CV several times. If you have the time, revisit your CV the next day when you have fresh eyes that can critically examine the application. Call on your family and friends to help you out and ask if they can check it for any spelling or grammatical errors. Do this, and you'll stand out from the rest of the applicants who submitted their CVs without proofreading first.

You may also be interested in: Proof-Reading Your CV and Common CV Spelling Mistakes

2. Overcomplicating the CV

You're likely eager to showcase your many talents on your CV, filling it with endless reasons, graphs, and images about why you should be hired. However, when it comes to creating the best CV possible, aim for a more minimalist approach. Your employer will want something that can be skimmed easily, displaying your best skills and qualifications near the top of the page. An overcomplicated CV with hand-designed logos and a picture of yourself simply isn't necessary and can be a turn-off to many employers.

An overcomplicated CV can also be confusing for the applicant tracking systems that 75% of recruiters and talent managers use to recruit their workers. If you want the systems to detect your application, then keep the formatting simple. Keep the margins clear and don't be tempted to put your name and address in the headnotes or footnotes. Stand out with your qualifications and not your CV's font choice; stick to the professional-looking classics such as Calibri or Arial.

3. Failing to optimise your keywords

You might be the most skilled linguist on the planet, capable of writing an eloquent and well-written CV, but you won't get an interview if you don't use the correct buzzwords. Your employer has a busy workday ahead of them and countless other CVs to look at; if they have to spend precious time trying to decipher you CV and see the value behind the waffle, they're likely to throw it away. The average CV should be no longer than two pages; if yours is any longer, it might be time for an edit.

When it comes to crafting your CV, be concise; use bullet points and summarise your point in a sentence or two. Cross reference your CV with the job description, demonstrating how you possess the skills and qualifications they're looking for by using sector terminology. Add some keywords to your CV that are essential to the role, as ATS systems will be more likely to highlight your CV to your employers.

4. Not doing your research

If you want to optimise your CV for ATS systems as well as employers, then it's essential that you do your research. Your employer is looking for somebody who is really interested in the company and cares about its future success: thorough research shows that you truly have the passion needed for the role. In your cover letter, talk about why you're interested in this company specifically and why your set of skills can benefit the workplace.

If you have been sending the same CV with each application, then you're doing something wrong. Each CV and cover letter should be tweaked so that it's unique to the sector you're applying to; the skills you need for one job might not be as important for another role.


5. You haven't told the whole truth

When you're in the comfort of your own home, telling a white lie about your qualifications and skills might seem harmless, but you'll feel very differently when you're being grilled by your interviewer. A YouGov survey found that 1 in 10 Brits lie on their CVs; fibs about education and qualifications are the most common.

When you're writing your CV, it's important to think about the long-term repercussions; lying about being proficient with Photoshop might get you the job, but what about when your employer calls on your "skills" while you're at work? Apply to jobs that you're qualified for and don't rely on a lie to get you ahead because it might just backfire. Most importantly, have confidence in your ability: if your potential employer really thinks you're valuable, they might overlook your C in GCSE maths if your other skills can help the company to flourish.

Confused about why your CV is always being ignored? Maybe these five reasons can shed some light on your shortcomings. Fix them, and every employer will be eager to hire you.

With 20+ years of experience writing CVs, it still puts a smile on my face when I hear a client has secured an interview Lee Tonge - Founder and Director


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