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Top Ten Worst CV Mistakes!

What are the worst mistakes you can make on a Pharma CV? Posted on: 26 Nov 09


I recently surveyed a range of pharmaceutical HR managers and recruiters to find out what they consider to be the worst errors you can make on your CV when applying for a pharma job. The results were quite surprising and funny at times, so I have compiled the following 10 point checklist to help you with your CV.

Top Ten Worst CV Mistakes!

  1. Poor spelling
  2. Grammatical errors
  3. Lying
  4. A hard to read CV - chaotic formatting, fonts, unnecessary images
  5. Incomplete or missing contact details
  6. Incomplete career history with gaps
  7. Waffling - To much irrelevant, unsubstantiated content
  8. Applying for a completely unsuitable position
  9. Addressing your application to the wrong person or company – ie cut and paste errors
  10. Overcrowding and clutter

OK, now you’ve checked those off, let’s look in a bit more detail..

  • Make sure your contact details are clear, consistent, and complete. A surprising number of CVs don’t even have complete contact details!
  • Make sure you spell your name correctly and consistently – yes, it has been known for candidates to misspell their own names!
  • Lying. Just don’t do it! - most recruiters run checks on qualifications and experience, so lying will get you rejected very quickly, when you might have stood a chance anyway.
  • Don’t use bogus references!
  • Proofread it! Grammar and spelling. In our survey, one recruiter stated that over half the CVs they receive have grammatical errors! So check, double check, and then get someone else to check too. Classic errors are incorrect use of capital letters and apostrophes, which can be interpreted as a lack of education.
  • Keep it relevant- One candidate apparently stated that they wanted to expand their property portfolio, not exactly relevant
  • Avoid personal statements about your own qualities (eg I have great communication skills) – these are unsubstantiated and not factual. Experience (if you have it) is worth far more and is taken seriously.
  • Don’t have an over long or over short CV – 2 or 3 pages should be all you need. You can use more but use it carefully.
  • Make sure your CV is easy on the eye. Use varying fonts/sizes to differentiate headings
  • Leave a reasonable clear font and a decent amount of white space, it makes it easier to read
  • Use bullet points, or short paragraphs, they are far easier to scan, than acres of prose.
  • Clear formatting - If your CV doesn’t look professional, what will your work be like?
  • Avoid complicated graphics, being “arty” just makes it hard to read
  • Don’t bother with a photo of yourself
  • Use a consistent tense, and person (don’t refer to yourself as “I” in one sentence and “Joe” in the next
  • Keep your language accessible. Avoid grandiosity!
  • Don’t include your life story – it really isn’t that interesting to a busy recruiter.
  • Do include some “non-work” interests, as it shows you as a more rounded person.
  • Check that your career history is in the right order (most recent first)
  • Make sure the dates tally
  • Put the most detail in your most recent job
  •  - 2 or 3 lines is not enough
  •  - Include achievements, responsibilities, and progression
  •  - Don’t assume recruiters know what your “standard” duties are just from your job title.
  • A summary of key achievements and responsibilities on each job is good.
  • Don’t leave career gaps, recruiters assume the worst.
  • Do proof read it again

In Summary

  • Pay acute attention to detail
  • Keep it relevant to the job you are applying for
  • Keep it short, clear and easy to read
  • Ensure your formatting is consistent
  • Check your contact details!
  • Proof Read it!
  • Don’t forget to sell yourself
  • Proof read it again!

I hope that running through the check list will help you get your next job in pharma. Register your new super CV on and let the jobs come to you.
Good luck.

Mike Wood

Last updated on: 01/03/2011 16:13:45

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