The Most Common Mistake CV Writers Make

Can you spot the mistake?

Recently, a job-seeking engineer sent me their CV to proofread for grammatical and spelling mistakes.

So I looked it over. At first glance there appeared to be no mistakes; that is, until I got to the Work Experience section.

Here is exactly what appeared there:

  • Motor Testing: VFDs setup, data collection and analysis
  • Different phases of the project: Design and planning, implementation, control and evaluation
  • Electrical schematics drawing with haBit Actrix
  • Python programming
  • FEMM simulation
  • Multisim simulation
  • Purchasing testing equipment
  • Project documentation
  • Communication with international customers/vendors

You might be thinking that there’s something wrong with my editing skills, as you don’t see any language errors at all…right?

Task-oriented = Vague…and Desperate?

Wrong. I’d answer you that what’s incorrect here is not how the above words are written, but rather that 1) there are far too many of them 2) stuffed into a long list of tasks.

Quite simply, listing that many tasks (nine here by my counting) under a job title makes you look unfocused and unsure of yourself professionally.

Don’t misunderstand: While it’s great that your current/previous job included many tasks, just slapping them up in list format makes you look a bit desperate, like you’re trying very hard to impress the reader (=hiring manager) with your enormous workload. As if you’re saying, “Wow, look at all these tasks! Can’t you see that my job is/was incredibly complicated and demanding.”

While in reality, doing this doesn’t give the reader any impression of what you’re really good at and what you’d like to do at your next workplace. How could it, when you’ve painted yourself with too broad a brush?

How to fix it

Instead, first sit down and answer these two questions for yourself – 1) What am I really good at? and 2) What do I want to do at my next job?

Next, go back and look at your tasks and write your new CV accordingly. Tell yourself that whatever it is you put down must answer these two questions.

Easy? Sorry, no. Can you do it? Sure. Just forget about being overly general and try to focus on what it is you truly want to do and are why you are qualified to do it. Doing this will help you find your way to the job that is a fit for you.

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