How Not to Write a CV

You only get one chance to make a first impression ...

5-7 seconds
Employers spend an average of 5-7 seconds looking at your CV.

76% of CVs are disregarded if the email address is unprofessional.

Submitting a striking CV can be the first step on the path to a successful career, but a substandard effort can quickly put you on the fast track to failure

Follow our top tips for CV success.

Typos and grammatical errors

The most common mistakes when crafting a CV are misspelled words and grammatical errors. In fact, according to the Recruitment and Employment Commission (REC), 50% of all CVs received by recruitment consultants contain spelling or grammatical slip-ups. Given that the hiring manager is likely to see scores of responses to a job advertisement, it’s important your CV doesn’t give off a slapdash and indifferent impression.

Be sure to get someone else to proofread your CV before you apply.
List your most relevant experience and remember to keep it brief.

Sending excessive pages

The primary aim of your CV is to help you get a foot in the door, so avoid wasting a busy recruiter’s time by including information irrelevant to the position. Your CV should be a concise document. A maximum of two pages is often best, and should include skills and work experience relevant to the role. This will allow you to provide further detail once you reach the interview stage.

Including an inappropriate email address

When submitting a job application, it’s wise to avoid using the email address you created when you were 14. Why? Because your email address is one of the first things a recruiter will set eyes on, and [email protected] is not the best first impression. Instead, make sure you open a new, professional account specifically for job applications.

Utilise your first, middle, and last name to create a professional email address.
Carry out research into the company and learn everything you can before applying.

Not tailoring your CV to fit each role

While it’s an easy trap to fall into when hunting for a job, a one-size-fits-all approach to CV writing is likely to see your application ignored by busy recruiters. The solution? Take your time when applying and ensure you tailor your CV and cover letter to match the specific requirements of the role.

Filling your CV with tired cliches

Although they may sound good in your head, and even if they turn out to be true, phrases such as “excellent communication skills”, “committed” and “driven” are dull and meaningless without real life evidence to back them up. Instead, link your skills to results you’ve achieved in the workplace and avoid boring the recruiter to death with empty boasts about your “people management skills”.

Make sure you back up your CV claims with workplace examples.
Show your CV to friends or family for a second opinion before applying.

Disastrous design

Admittedly, the content of your CV is the most important feature, but if it’s laid out like a dog’s dinner, the recruiter will likely have a hard time making any sense of it. For best results, avoid using different fonts and sizes, stick to black text, a legible and professional font, and ensure there’s enough white space to distinguish between each section.

Omitting important information

If you decide to leave some of your previous roles off your CV, it’s inevitable that a potential employer will question the gaps in your working history – and this can spell bad news, as they’re likely to come to the worst possible conclusion. Consequently, make sure you have a valid explanation for any gaps in your employment.

Think about any transferable skills you may have picked up during any period out of work.
Make sure you double – and triple – check your CV before sending it off.

Your personal details are inaccurate

It may sound obvious, but if you’ve left a digit off your telephone number, misspelled your email address or forgotten to change your postal address, it simply doesn’t matter how good the rest of your CV is. Why? Because employers won’t be able to get in touch to invite you for an interview.


Being unnecessarily vague

If there’s one thing employers hate, it’s a vague applicant. Avoid filling your application with sentences that offer very little insight into what you can offer the company. Instead, hone in on the needs of the company – and your own – and let them know in no uncertain terms what you plan to bring to the position.

Avoid rambling, but be sure to give the recruiter a glimpse of what you want to achieve.

Now you know the CV mistakes to avoid, all that’s left is for you to get out there and grab your dream role with both hands.

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