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Dubai: Applying for graduate schemes and other professional roles after university can seem like a daunting task. In an increasingly competitive job market, there are a number of things that recent alumni should keep in mind to make sure that their CV not only stands out from the crowd, but also accurately represents their experience and qualifications.

Gulf News spoke to Peter Cleverton, General Manager, EMEA at HireRight a company that delivers background checks, employment, and education verification services to organisations worldwide.

Here are the 5 common pitfalls that candidates new to the job market often make in their CVs, which could potentially prevent them from securing their first graduate role.

Lies and embellishments

Getting a foot in the door with your first professional job can seem like a significant undertaking after graduation. In the face of fierce competition against other well-qualified candidates, it can be tempting to be flexible with the truth, particularly around your educational qualifications.

The findings of our recent 2019 EMEA Employment Screening Benchmark Report highlight how often CV discrepancies are picked up by employers. More than four in five (83%) HR professionals that were surveyed said that they had discovered candidates who had misrepresented information during the recruitment process. Of these, 49 per cent found discrepancies in education credentials.

Even if you haven’t achieved the grades you had hoped for, honesty really is the best policy when it comes to reporting your educational achievements. Employers usually look at more than just your university grade, and it’s not worth the embarrassment of being caught lying by your potential future employer.

Spelling errors

An error-free CV is essential when applying for a job. However, grammatical errors and typos can easily creep in, most often when applications have been rushed and not enough time has been taken for a thorough review. To minimise the risk of errors, it is important to take the time to proofread your CV, as well as asking someone else to do the same.

Rushed CVs and job applications are easily spotted and quickly dismissed by employers and HR teams. Meticulously checking your CV before submission will not only prevent needless rejection by potential employers but will also showcase your precision and attention to detail.

Bad formatting

CVs should be presented clearly and signpost all information relevant to a particular role, which will make them much easier to read. It is also important to bear in mind that CVs will likely be read on a computer screen, therefore you should consider the formatting of your CV to ensure that it can be read clearly on-screen. It is also common for recent graduates to overfill their CVs with long paragraphs, detailing work experience and qualifications, which can make it feel cluttered.

Using shorter sentences and bullet points to highlight the most important information can help your CV’s readability and make it look more concise.

Unexplained gaps

Gaps in work or educational history are quite common, particularly for recent graduates who have taken time out to go travelling or undertake volunteering work. Yet there is often hesitation to reference these gaps in CVs, but failure to do so can be a red flag for employers.

Gaps can raise the question as to why you haven't been working for several months prior to applying for a role. If you spent some time out of full-time work as you were travelling or volunteering, this can certainly be used to your advantage. It is often a good idea to include volunteering work in the ‘experience’ section of your CV, to highlight the skills you developed in this role, and to show how they will transfer to the job you are applying for.

The generic CV

A common mistake that many graduates make is to send out the same CV to all potential employers. Although some job roles might seem similar, it is important to review the job specification and adapt your CV accordingly to spotlight different information. Tailoring your CV and covering letter to each role will show that you have a strong understanding of the job requirements, and will highlight your skills and qualifications that are most relevant to the role.