The 10 most common CV mistakes


We all think we know how to write a CV – you just need to show off your experience and skills, right? Well, yes – but there’s more to it than that. If you want to make the right first impression on recruiters and hiring managers, make sure you’re not making these CV mistakes…

1. Omitting the profile section

profile, positioned at the very top of your CV, is your elevator pitch. As the first thing a recruiter will read, it needs to emphasise your unique selling point, explain exactly what you can bring to the business and set you apart from other applicants. By not including a profile, you’re missing the best opportunity to sell yourself and make a fantastic first impression.

2. Writing long, wordy blocks of text

Recruiters are busy people and they don’t have forever to wade through the finer details of your CV unless they think it will tick some of their boxes. A solid wall of text is off-putting and hard to read – especially on a screen. Make their life easier and improve the presentation at the same time by replacing wordy blocks of text with concise bullet points.

3. Not including achievements

Long gone are the days when your CV was just a dry list of your responsibilities in each role. Nowadays, you need to set your application apart from others by demonstrating the value you’ve added to the company. By showing a strong record of performance and results delivery throughout your career, you’ll give the impression that you’ll perform equally well in your new role. It’s well worth racking your brains, speaking to colleagues and trawling through past appraisals to identify how you’ve contributed in each role. Not including
achievements is one of the most common CV mistakes – and it does take time and thought to rectify.

4. Not quantifying facts

A CV isn’t just about the words! A good CV needs
numbers too, to help the reader to understand the scope of your previous roles and successes. You may have said that you managed a team and controlled a budget, but there’s a difference between managing a departmental team of 4 staff with a budget of £10,000 and managing a multinational team of 60 with a budget of £400million. Help the recruiter to understand what you do and the level you do it at.

5. Not aligning your CV with the job advert

Generic CVs are SO last millennium! It’s now expected that you tailor both your CV and cover letter to the role you’re aiming for. That means pulling keywords from the
job advert and showing that your values align with those of the company you’re applying to. It comes down, once again, to making it easy for the hiring manager to see how you’d fit into their team.

6. Using cliches

Enthusiastic, hardworking and reliable? Work equally well in a team and on your own? Well, that’s lovely, but it’s not original. Cliched even for a school-leaver’s CV, your vocabulary really needs to be a lot more dynamic than this. Instead of making wild, unfounded claims, tell a (short!) story to show that you really are the person you’re describing. For example, instead of saying you’re reliable, you could point to your perfect record of attendance and punctuality or your reputation for never missing a deadline.

7. Presenting a poor layout

visual presentation of your CV is the very first impression you’ll make on a recruiter – before they’ve even read a word. Keep it clean, well-spaced and easy to scan through. You may think that gives you free rein to go all-out with graphics and logos, but it absolutely doesn’t. Don’t be tempted to add the logos of awarding bodies, companies you’ve worked for and institutions you’re a member of… the focus of the CV should be YOU, not these other organisations. The images will likely introduce errors when your CV is scanned by an
ATS, too. The same goes for skills graphs and visuals – they’re meaningless and unlikely to be interpreted correctly.

8. Not explaining career breaks

career break is fine… but not explaining it on your CV isn’t. Most career gaps happen for perfectly normal and understandable reasons, such as raising a family, pursuing studies or even taking a sabbatical. One line is all it takes to explain that on your CV. Otherwise, you’re leaving the recruiter free to interpret it however they like – maybe you were in prison, or were fired from your last role? Of course, if that really is the case, focus on the positives, such as what you learned and how you spent the time away from the workplace.

9. Including outdated information

Modern CVs are all about selling your value to a potential employer. In the past, a full address, objective statement and
hobbies section were expected – but that’s no longer the case. They just distract from your main message. Similarly, consider removing dates (and even roles) prior to the millennium –
age discrimination is illegal, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, consciously or unconsciously.

10. Including potentially discriminatory information

Characteristics such as age, religion, race and more, are protected by the Equality Act. Recruiters can’t discriminate on these grounds when making hiring decisions, so information such as date of birth, nationality and even photos are big no-nos on your CV. Use the space you save by taking these details off to give the reader yet another reason to hire you.

Need help?

When you’ve eliminated all these CV mistakes, why not send it to CV Shed for a
FREE, no obligation review and feedback? Or, avoid the minefield altogether and
get your CV written from scratch, using the CV writing service! I look forward to helping you to take the next step in your career. 

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