Three common mistakes in consultant CV's

Your CV is often the first impression a potential client will have of you, and therefore, a well-crafted CV has the power to get you through the door to your next dream project. 

There are a lot of things one needs to do right in a good CV, especially in the face of the often fierce competition. In a world where decision-makers primarily skim-read CV’s, there is not a lot of room for error. A good CV must be sharp, concise, and provide an objective summary of your profile in a manner that gets straight to the point.

As a consultancy, a big part of what we do is help our consultants with their CV’s. We assist with more than a hundred of them every month. All this has given us some insight into some of the common mistakes that we see consultants make; here are three of them: 

Read: The consultant CV: How to communicate your core expertise

Expert in… everything

The first common mistake we have observed is a tendency to claim expert level in every competency. Some freelancers will claim expert level knowledge in technologies and competencies that have not been applied in the last ten years, while further not differentiating between old and newly acquired skills. Being an expert within a field requires one to work with the associated technologies actively, and be at the forefront of new advances, especially within IT—not having demonstrated the use of a particular competency for over a decade makes it impossible to assess the accurate skill-level of a person.

Therefore, emphasise the areas where you are indeed an expert. In return, it will help you stand out from the competition.

Giving the CV a “personal touch”

Another typical mistake we see consultants make in their CVs is based on a rather peculiar inclination to include (too much) information about their personal life, such as who they are married to, how many kids they have, and other interesting facts. In other words, information that does not directly help demonstrate whether the consultant can do the job or not. It is not uncommon to see people write about their hobbies, or write about their family. 

Instead, stick to the professional aspect, your career, focusing on “what” and “why” regarding competencies, acquired skills, and experiences. 

You are the star of your CV

So you have been part of some cool projects and helped companies transition from A to B. Cool! That is great but remember that your CV should be centered on you. It is meant to be a brief account of your career and qualifications. It is therefore not relevant how company X went from A to B. What matters is the specific role you played in the journey of the company with an emphasis on the competencies you used and how you used them.

So, turn the spotlight back on yourself, by focusing on describing the role and the skills that you used in a particular project or job.

That covers some of the common mistakes we have observed. This list is not complete. Other common mistakes, such as poor formatting and spelling errors, are just as important to be aware of, with the latter able to ruin even the best of CVs. Remember, writing a perfect CV is not easy, but if you are aware of the above mistakes, then you are already well on your way.