Getting your CV right is hard — especially when you’re a younger candidate. You’ve probably received some CV advice in school, but how much of it is relevant for an esports CV?
Do the same rules apply, or is there a different set of expectations in an industry as new and unique as ours? Hitmarker explains.
We’re Hitmarker, the largest jobs website in gaming and esports, and we’re here to let you know what you should avoid doing in your CV. We see dozens of application documents every day, and over the last few years we’ve come to learn what works well in an esports CV, and what doesn’t!
As such, we’ve condensed the most crucial mistakes you should avoid making in this guide. We’re hoping you’ll come away from it feeling much more confident about your CV, and armed with the knowledge you need to improve it (if it needs improving).
So let’s get started!
Mistake #1: Spelling errors (and how you can spot them)
Every CV article ever written will tell you to avoid spelling errors. While it goes without saying at this point, we’re going to tell you how to spot them.
Step one is to run your document through a spell checker, word processing unit, or free grammar app, like Grammarly. This will highlight the obvious errors, such as misspelled words. Doing this is especially important if you’ve made your CV in a program like Adobe Illustrator, where there is no built-in spell checker.
Correct any issues Grammarly flags, then move on to step two: proofread your CV, once in your head, and then once out loud.
Reading something aloud is incredibly useful, as mistakes will be much more apparent as you say them, rather than if you read them in your head. Your brain is often guilty of “filling in” any words that aren’t quite right when you read. Saying them out loud makes it much easier to spot incorrect sentences or even sections that are just clunky and could do with being re-written.
Once you’re happy with your CV, send it to somebody else to check for you. That might be your parents, a friend, or even us! We’re happy to look over people’s CVs and offer advice, so just send us a message to firstname.lastname@example.org if those first two options aren’t available to you.
Mistake #2: Using more than one page
Unless you’re an experienced professional with a lot of past experience, your CV shouldn’t be more than one page in length. Especially if you’re young and just out of school, college, or university.
It’s very rare for junior candidates to have enough relevant experience to fill more than one page of a document. By overflowing onto two pages (or more), the hiring manager might assume you struggle to keep things concise, or haven’t been able to recognize what experience will be of interest to them.
It can seem like a small thing, but keep that CV to one page wherever possible!
Mistake #3: Not leading with your most relevant information
A hiring manager should be able to look at your CV and see the most relevant information at the top, and the least important at the bottom if they decide to read that far. They’re usually extremely busy people, so please don’t make them search for your biggest achievements!
Start your CV with your name and contact details. Those should always come first.
Then move onto:
- A summary of who you are as a professional (optional, but recommended!)
- Then: Your experience section
- Then: Your education section
The only case where your education should come before your experience is if you don’t have any professional experience yet, or if your education is in a more relevant field to what you’re applying to than any of your previous jobs.
Next comes the supplementary information. Skills, references, achievements, interests, and software proficiency.
You might have several of these sections or none of them, depending on how your current CV is structured. But they should be reserved for the bottom half of the document, or slotted into a sidebar column.
Mistake #4: Not laying it out reverse chronologically
To lay something out reverse chronologically is to list the most recent activity or event first, followed by the one after that, followed by the one after that, and so on.
For your experience and education sections, these should start with your most recent placement or period of study. This is what’s of the most interest to the hiring manager, so it should be higher up the document (remember what we said earlier about placing the key information at the top?)
After all, your A-level results paint a more relevant picture of your academic prowess than your GCSEs do. The same applies for a job you held months ago, compared to one you held years ago.
Mistake #5: Unremarkable designs
Contrary to what you might have been told in school, you are allowed to get a bit creative with how you present your CV. This is esports after all! Standing out from the crowd with a memorable design, color scheme, or something else can make a lasting impression on a hiring manager.
This especially applies to all of our creative types out there. If you’re a designer, editor, artist, or similar, your CV might be the first piece of design work a hiring manager sees. If it’s all black text on a white background, you’re going to struggle to compete with someone who’s showcased their artistic ability through the design of their CV.
The best CVs we’ve seen from creatives utilise smart layouts and modern designs. And this goes for other fields, too. Don’t be one of the 100 applications that look the same. Give the hiring manager something that makes them go, “Okay, here’s a good one.”
Mistake #6: Not hyperlinking
As we said earlier, hiring managers are usually extremely busy people. You want to make their life as easy as possible to see who you are, what you’ve done, and why they should advance you to the second stage of the hiring process.
A common mistake people make all the time is not using hyperlinks within their CV.
Got a portfolio on display? Make sure it’s hyperlinked! That email address in your contact section? Link it up! Talking about a social media page or website you grew? Well, you get the idea by now.
Make sure anything that could be linked, is linked!
Mistake #7: Being vague
Sometimes we’ll see a CV where a candidate has listed their job title, the company they worked for, and one or two broad sentences about that role.
This isn’t enough! You’re forcing the hiring manager to look at this and assume things your individual contributions in a role when you should be telling them about those in your text.
So instead, when you’re writing about your experience and education, back it up with exact figures and achievements. This could be any of…
- Projects you managed
- Revenue targets you exceeded
- Successful ad campaigns you ran
- The number of direct reports you had
When you can say “Managed four projects in my time with the company, each of which was within budget and exceeded revenue goals by an average of 20%.”
as opposed to…
“Worked as a project manager between January 2016 and April 2017.”
You can see which one directly shows a hiring manager the value you’ll bring to their company. Show, don’t just tell.
Mistake #8: Overselling your experience
While you shouldn’t be vague when you speak about your experience, it’s also important not to over-exaggerate.
Esports is full of self-starters. People with such a love for the scene that they decided to get involved themselves.
And while this can look great on a CV, make sure you don’t shoot yourself in the foot with it.
If you’ve founded an org with a few friends, avoid listing it on your CV under a C-level job title. This includes CEO, COO, and similar roles. Volunteer esports orgs do not have C-level staff.
If a hiring manager looks at your application and sees that you’ve been the CEO of two esports orgs before you finished university, they’re more likely to think you’re throwing that title around liberally than to be impressed by it.
Try something safer, like “Owner” or “Founder” that still shows your involvement, but doesn’t use an executive-level job title that seems out of place.
Mistake #9: Listing all of your skills
A list of your professional skills can be a great addition to your resume. It shows that you match the skill requirements of the job at a quick glance, and can even be tweaked slightly before each application so the list is displayed in hyper-relevant order.
However, a common mistake people make here is that they list everything they can do.
When your skills list has 20 items ranging from financial planning to video editing, the hiring manager is going to question just how strong you are in each of them.
Instead, keep it focused. Aim for between five and seven skills that are directly related to the job field you’re applying in, with the most relevant/impressive one at the top.
Bonus points if you can slip in some of the skills mentioned in the job description (that’s where tweaking your CV before each application comes in!)
Mistake #10: Listing soft skills
On the topic of skills lists, you should make sure to avoid ‘soft skills’ here.
These are skills that are hard to measure and are more personality-based. ‘Enthusiastic’, ‘passionate’, ‘motivated’, and ‘hard-working’ are all examples. They’re a good trait to have, but aren’t going to show a hiring manager you’re a fit for the job.
Instead, list ‘hard skills’. These are definable, measurable business skills. This might include digital marketing and SEO if you’re applying for marketing jobs, or branding and motion design if you’re applying for design jobs.
Mistake #11: Not keeping your CV updated
Esports is a competitive industry. In any job application, you’re going to be battling against lots of other high-quality candidates.
As such, you need your CV to be the absolute best it can be, which means keeping it regularly updated.
If you’ve taken on new responsibilities in your current role, or have completed an online course certification over the last few months, these should be included!
Always think about what else you can add to your CV to make it pop that little bit more when a hiring manager opens it.
And if you’re using figures and achievements as we suggested, ensure these are updated regularly. Hearing that you grew a social media page by 1,000 followers is great, but not as impressive as hearing you grew it by 2,000!
Mistake #12: Naming the file “CV.pdf”
Newsflash: any hiring manager not using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) probably has hundreds of files saved on their computer with this name. If they want to give your CV another look down the line, saving it as something generic like CV.pdf is only going to make this harder for them.
Use a simple, but easily-identifiable, format instead, like “firstname_lastname_cv.pdf”. It’s neat and includes all the key information.
The underscores are there because some computer applications can’t read spaces in file names. It’s unlikely anyone working in esports will run into this issue, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
More esports careers advice and next steps
Now that we’ve told you which mistakes to avoid in the file name of your document, we’d say that concludes our list of common CV errors!
If your CV contains several of them, don’t panic! We’ve all been there at one point in our lives and we see these mistakes multiple times per day.
What’s important is that you now know what to avoid, so that the next time you go to apply for a job you’ll know none of these small faults will trip you up.
Finally, if you’re feeling more confident and ready to look for that dream career now, please be sure to visit our website Hitmarker.net where we list hundreds of new jobs each day. With over 8,000 active listings, we’re hopeful there’ll be one that suits you!
Also, make sure to keep it locked to the British Esports Association website for more career content we’ll be working on with them over the next few months, and best of luck out there!
The Hitmarker Team
Further reading: How to gain that first bit of experience in esports