The top 3 CV mistakes: our findings

Some of the things that you, as any other person working in IT, should be professional at is coding and using your head. But the ability to sell yourself (and your skills in particular) is also highly important.

Our mkdev team helps with all the stages of a professional developer: from teaching the basics of programming to assisting with the job search. And can the job search be any good without a proper CV?

Your CV is your calling card. A good one might help you overcome such an obstacle as a recruitment consultant or an in-house HR specialist, even though this obstacle is just one of many more others.

July 2018 we launched the CV review service for developers. We collected dozens of CVs that needed review, so, after some time, we put the receiving process on hold, and started to thoroughly examine each CV. The ones responsible for the check were Kirill Shirinkin and Leonid Suschev, the mkdev co-founders, as well as Anastasia Fedotushkina, an experienced recruitment consultant from Page Group, one of the world’s biggest recruitment agencies. We combined our skills in IT and design with the recruitment experience, which allowed us to investigate all the aspects of every CV.

We got almost zero perfect CVs, but it wasn’t a surprise. All of them had mistakes reasonable enough for a recruitment consultant to close the CV and never open it again. There were many mistakes of all manners, so we decided to share with you only the three most common:


1. Scarce information about the work experience and completed tasks

One of the most important parts of the CV (and maybe the most important) is ‘Work Experience’. There you need to write your previous workplaces or projects and this part becomes rather problematic for most candidates. One of the problems is inadequacy of the wording describing the solved tasks.

Don’t:

  • Give too much information, e.g. the exact amount of the months you worked in the company, the amount of people in the team or the detailed description of what the company does;
  • Share personal stories and memories such as ‘We wanted to implement React, but Joe said that Angular.js is better, I didn’t agree with him, but we implemented Angular.js anyway since we had no choice’;
  • Summarize the solved tasks into the phrases like ‘Fixed the bags’ which mean absolutely nothing;
  • Leave this part blank.

Do:

  • Write a list of the tasks solved on the project. This part should be neither too big nor too small and you shouldn’t use the first-person pronouns. For example: ‘Implementing credit card payment system in compliance with PCI DSS’.

It's not enough to have a great CV. You should also be able to sell yourself! Our Python mentor gives questionable but effective advise on how to behave during a work interview: Read the article


2. CV squeezed onto one page

Rumor has it that the CV should be one- or two-page long. Keeping that in mind, some people try to do whatever they can to fit all the necessary information on that space. Some minimize the text or write several long paragraphs of text without any formatting. Some just skip a bunch of important info, add a link to the personal website and hope that the recruitment consultant will visit it. Others write the text in two columns.

The truth is that there’s nothing wrong with a three-, four- or even five-page long CVs, but this space should be used properly. The title shouldn’t take up half of the space on the page and your CV shouldn’t contain a longread of your complete autobiography from the year of birth to 2019. If your truly have a lot of experience and you solved many challenging tasks on different projects, don’t worry about the amount of pages. It might be impossible to fit the vast experience of 10 or more years on one page only, after all.

Don’t:

  • Squeeze your CV onto one or two pages without any paragraphs, using 8pt font size;
  • Make a huge, long CV, 90% of which is highly-detailed unnecessary info about what kind of yogurt you used to eat when you were a child.

Do:

  • Fill all the parts with relevant information, without any unnecessary details;
  • Not worry about the fact the CV with the relevant information took up three, four or more pages. You should be proud of such a CV.


3. Randomly chosen CV file format

You should always send your CV as a PDF. The magic of this format is that it looks the same everywhere the file’s opened, be it any operational system or a mobile device.

The formatting of .doc or .rtf files will be screwed up on the screens of Linux and MacOS users. And, indeed, the CV written using Libre Office will not look good for those who use Windows.

Another mistake you can do is to send a link to your personal website instead of a PDF-file with your CV. Having a personal website with the skills and experience mentioned on it is awesome, even though rather useless given that nowadays there are such platforms as LinkedIn, Indeed.com and others. But the recruitment consultants need your CV as a file, not a link to your website. The website cannot replace the CV, it’s just a supplement.


These mistakes are just a tip of the iceberg. In total we’ve found several dozens of them, grave or not.

The whole in-depth report about all the mistakes you need to avoid in your CV is available here: Download

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