Common CV Mistakes

Did you know employers take less than a minute to decide if an application is worth considering? So it’s essential your CV stands out from the crowd and makes a good first impression on your employer whilst clearly presenting your best skills and attributes.

Cliches, lies, typos and lack of clarity are just some of the reasons you may not offered an interview. So how do you craft the perfect CV?

Here are our top 5 CV writing tips to help you build a show-stopping CV that will attract the attention of your potential employer.

Mind your language

Avoid tired expressions such as passionate, hardworking and team player. Why not try using “accountable”, as well as “achieve” and “purpose”, think about the purpose of your role and why you want the job to help you find more suitable expressions.

Pay attention to detail

It is hard to be positive about yourself because we tend to be quite humble. So, we recommend you show it to someone you trust – ideally, someone who has worked with you – and ask for feedback.

Be accurate

Recruiters will judge you on mistakes, either in structure, spelling, or punctuation. Be sure to use a grammar and spelling tool, but also get other people to check for errors.

Make sure it is clear and concise to read

Making your CV look polished, and professional is important. Think about what font you have used, is it easy to read or are there different fonts that might be a better option? Stick to dark font colours and make certain words and headers bold to separate the different parts.

Include interesting hobbies

Team sports look good or something which shows a degree of dedication but try to avoid things such as ‘I go out and enjoy socialising’ because that doesn’t tell them anything more about you as a person.


Now we’ve given you some helpful CV writing tips, it's time to find out the most common CV mistakes, what CV mistakes to avoid and what to do if you accidentally make an error?

Common CV mistakes include;

  • Having spelling errors and bad grammar
  • Exaggerating the truth
  • Poor formatting
  • Not focusing on your achievements
  • Putting the wrong contact information
  • Not tailoring your CV to the specific role
  • Not including hobbies and interests
  • Using an inappropriate email address

You'll be surprised how often some of these CV mistakes can trip people up and spoil their chances of securing an interview. So now we will be expanding on a few of the common mistakes above as well as listing some additional errors to help you totally avoid any blunders.


1. Poor formatting

CVs that aren't clear and easy to read are a huge turn-off for employers. On average employers spend around eight seconds reviewing each CV leaving you little time to make a good first impression. It's important to help the reader get to the most relevant information as easily as possible when thinking about how to format your CV.

2. Failing to tailor your application

When it comes to CVs, one size doesn't fit all. Everything that you include must be completely tailored to the company and the role that you're applying for. Tailoring shows you’re interested in the role and demonstrates your motivation, which is a key aspect of what employers are looking for.

Employers can immediately sense whether you've sufficiently assessed the job requirements and evaluated which of your skills match the job specification most effectively, giving you the best chance of success.

3. Spelling errors

An error-free CV is vital in showcasing your precision and attention to detail, so check everything - even your contact details. Don't ignore the red lines that your spell-checking software uses to identify mistakes in text and double-check what they are indicating or consider using alternatives that will add impact to your writing. Also, be careful not to use American versions of spellings such as ‘prioritize’.

4. Lack of evidence

It's easy to make generic, empty statements on your CV when you're trying to meet a tight application deadline. However, failing to effectively evidence your skills, achievements and experiences can be a big mistake.

It's key to back up how you meet the requirements because without this information an employer can't be confident that you're able to do the job effectively. Without being able to effectively explain how you have used particular skills or developed experiences you can't be the safe pair of hands an employer is looking for.

5. Ignoring gaps in your work history

Gaps in employment history are fairly common and rarely a problem as long as they're explained. You don't need to worry about gaps of a couple of weeks but if you've been out of work for months (or even years) you need to clearly and concisely explain why.


What to do if you make a mistake?

Think about how big the mistake is and the implications of the error, a grammar fault certainly won’t earn you any points, but it doesn’t hold the same weight as putting in the wrong employment dates for a past job. However, if you discover a major factual error after you apply, it’s best to resubmit your application.

It’s important to also consider what actions would be necessary to rectify the mistake. If you applied online, the employer’s applicant tracking system (ATS) might allow you to log in and upload an updated resume.

But if there isn’t a way to go back and fix your mistake without the employer knowing, you can still take steps to correct any essential information. You can simply email the contact a corrected version with a short explanatory note.

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