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6 common CV mistakes

Your CV can help to open the door to your next career move. However too often jobseekers undersell themselves in their CV or fail to clearly highlight what they’ve done to date.

If you’re thinking of updating your CV or are about to apply for a role, read our guide to the six common CV mistakes and how you can avoid them.


1. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors

Errors like this are avoidable and imply carelessness – and that’s not an impression you want to give a potential employer. But it’s still surprising how many CVs we receive contain spelling mistakes and other basic grammatical errors.

Action Point: Check your CV carefully before you send it or upload it. Make sure there aren’t any stray apostrophes (in plural words, such as ‘key performance indicator’s’, for example) and that words which can be spelled differently (such as draught and draft) are in the correct form. Spell check software can pick up some mistakes but it is not foolproof. Ask a friend to check through your spelling if this is not one of your strengths.

2. Photographs and unusual fonts

From time to time we see CVs that have photographs of the job seeker on them, are written using coloured or unusual fonts or on coloured paper or a quirky design. In our opinion, these will only make your CV stand out for the wrong reasons.

Action Point: Make sure that the words speak for themselves. Keep to a font that looks clean and ensure that the design isn’t cluttered.

3. Lack of specifics

When an employer looks at your CV, they need to know exactly what you have achieved in your previous roles and how this is relevant to the job you’re applying for. If, for example, you were responsible for cutting costs, say exactly how you did it and spell out the results you achieved.

Action Point: Look at the career information you want to include in your CV. Does it clearly say:

  • What your role was?
  • What your responsibilities were?
  • What you achieved and
  • The benefit it delivered to your employer

Are these points clear the first time you skim over your CV? If not, rewrite the information until they are.

4. Long sentences and elaborate descriptions

If you use excessively long words and elaborate sentences on your CV, the meaning may not be clear and you’ll make it harder for the recruiting manager to work out what you have actually achieved. Use bullet points where appropriate to help add structure and clarity. They will enable you to give recruiting managers the information they want in an easily digestible format.

Action Point: Check what you’ve written and see if you can rewrite the information so it’s shorter and snappier.

5. Incorrect contact information

There are few things more frustrating for a recruiter than to have a great CV in front of them and not be able to contact the person whose name is at the top of it.

Action Point: Make sure your email, phone number and address details are updated.

6. Attempting a ‘one size fits all’ CV

Employers who receive generic CVs generally discard them. Most recruiting managers look for tailored CVs explaining exactly why someone is appropriate for the role.

Action Point: As you’re writing your CV, have the job description on hand and look at what you’re writing with a critical eye. Every word should be designed to persuade someone recruiting for this particular role that they should interview you.

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