Common mistakes made when compiling your CV for the construction industry.

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by Rudi Nieuwoudt

The last few years have really been tough for the construction industry. I've seen many people lose their work due to construction projects being cancelled or put on hold. Now more than ever competition is fierce when applying for a job in the construction industry. Seeing as your resume is the first point of contact with a potential employer, it is important to have a resume that best showcases your expertise. It is after all an extension of yourself. Recruiters spend only a few seconds scanning each CV. So the very first impression is key. If you submit a neat, properly organised document, you’ll convince the recruiters to spend more time on your CV. I have received many CV's over the years, some very good and some not so much. In my opinion there is no "one size fits all" template you can use when it comes to creating a CV. It should not only reflect your qualifications and experience but also a bit of your personality. Having said that, here are some very annoying mistakes (again in my opinion) people make when compiling CV's for positions in the construction industry.

Writing everything in uppercase.

WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO WRITE YOUR ENTIRE CV IN UPPERCASE? What are you trying to achieve besides having the reader question your report writing skills? Normal sentence case is always preferred. If you feel you need to highlight a specific topic then use bold, underline or italic.

Spelling mistakes and bad grammar.

I realize that English is not everybody’s first language but  a lack of attention to detail could outweigh your otherwise perfect CV.  Ask someone to proofread your CV before sending it.  Don’t only rely on Microsoft Word to point out typos or bad grammar. Grammar can be tweaked by reading your CV aloud – if it doesn’t sound correct, most likely it won’t read very well.

Incorrect information.

Dates which don’t match up is a common mistake. You will find a person started working for an organization 2017 but only left the previous employer in 2018. Incorrect personal information and blatant lies will only leave you stumbling for words when your recruiter or potential employer catches you out. However, you may not even reach face-to-face contact if you’ve written down the incorrect phone number or email address, so check everything.


Too long.

Your CV is not supposed to be a novel – if the employer is not convinced after two pages; it’s likely they’ll not be persuaded in the next ten. Keep it concise and remember less is often more.


Additional Tips to help you with the compilation on your CV.

Be clear and structured.

There is no way recruiters are going to read all the CVs in detail. They begin by ‘scanning’ the CVs received by reading them diagonally. Only those that catch their attention upon first reading will be examined more closely. Choose an attractive layout by structuring your ideas. For this purpose, use paragraphs and clear titles.


Avoid elaborate fonts and styles.

A CV is a professional document. Don’t try to make it stand out by using an eccentric font or colours. Keep it simple, clear and to the point.

Be concise.

You are not writing a novel telling the story of your life. Bullet points where you can and focus on duties and responsibilities, accomplishments, training, experience.

Make sure you can be easily contacted.

If the recruiter wants to contact you, they must be able to find your personal information at first glance. Put it at the top of the first page. Think of putting your age rather than your date of birth to make things easier for the person reading your CV.

Executive summary.

This, in my opinion is critical!! Your experience is what interests the recruiter/employer above all. A well written summary of your experience and accomplishments is priceless and will put you ahead of the pack. Remember to keep it short. About 5 or 6 lines max! Here is an extract from my own CV executive summary.

“I have 1-year experience as a fireman and 8 years as an Intermediate Life Support Paramedic registered at the Heath Profession Council of South Africa. I have 14 years’ experience in Construction HSE Management, all 14 years in the Oil and Gas/Petrochemical construction industry. In this period, I have won 10 recognition awards and have been promoted 4 times. I have worked both in Africa and Europe. I am currently employed by ?????????? on the ?????????????? Project as the project HSE Manager.”

Only mention relevant training.

Of course you have to mention your basic education and your experience relevant to the job, but make it brief. If you have a degree, the recruiter won’t be interested in your primary and secondary school studies, for instance. Have you done any training during your career that you think is pertinent to the job in question? List it.

Work in chronological order.

Whether you are writing about your experience or your education, the most recent information is the most important. Start with your current or latest employer and work your way backwards. Same goes for you training.