The Most Common CV Mistakes

Whilst conducting research for the previous post, The Ten Commandments of CV Writing, I came across a great deal of information highlighting recurring mistakes that people make on their CV, some of which I found quite astonishing. And whilst some of the information in the two posts will overlap, the mistakes which I have detailed below are the ones that occur most frequently. 

The Mistakes

Fudging the format

  • An illegible font, absent information and a disordered layout will earn your CV a place in the bin.
  • Make sure you include your name and contact details at the top of the first page. Then a short personal profile just below which should be followed by lengthier sections such as Work Experience, Education & Qualifications, Additional Skills and any relevant Interests (emphasis on relevant).
  • Each section should be completed in reverse-chronological order with the most recent first, all in a clear font and simple layout.

Information overload

  • Detailing everything you’ve achieved since you mastered potty training isn’t advisable. Employers don’t care to know that you won a school spelling competition when you were in year ten; they want to know what makes you suitable for the job.
  • Listing all of your interests is a waste of valuable space on the page. If you’ve written anywhere that you like “socialising with friends” or “walking your dog”, sorry to break it to you but you’re going to sound very boring.
  • Unless your hobbies and interests make you more marketable for the role or they are really really cool, don’t include them.

Short novels

  • Your CV isn’t a short story about your life; exceeding two pages is a major no-no.
  • With the graduate job market becoming ever more competitive, employers need to set parameters for discarding CV’s, and many use three page CV’s as one of them.
  • Personal profiles are also often too long. It’s called a profile for a reason; a few short sentences that outline why you are the right candidate will suffice.

Double sided printing

  • When it comes to your CV, it’s almost a sin to print on the reverse side of the paper. Just don’t do it.
  • Research (and common sense) has shown that anything on the reverse side might get missed by potential employers (

Vague as fog

  • It’s something that I have been guilty of in the past, but reeling off a list of generic skills such as ‘hard working, team player, good communicator’, tells potential employers nothing about your suitability for the job.
  • Simply writing out your job description from previous employments won’t work either. Provide examples of achievements from each role and highlight key accomplishments.

Spelling, grammar & punctuation

  • This is the ultimate sin. Submitting a CV that contains spelling or grammatical errors is unforgivable. Especially if you get your contact details wrong.
  • Relying on spell checking tools is too lazy. They aren’t fool proof and don’t always understand the context of what is being written.
  • Read it out loud. If it doesn’t sound right, then it probably won’t read that well either.

Key Words

  • To help with the initial sift through CV’s, many companies are using technology to filter out the weaker candidates.
  • For example, if you’re applying to the position of Marketing Executive, yet you fail to mention marketing in your CV, you’re chances aren’t going to be good.

Liar Liar

  • We covered this in the previous post, but it is one of the main mistakes that employers report.
  • Whilst it is easy to omit certain details from your CV, such as exam resits, telling blatant lies will put you at a nervous disposition when it comes to interview. This could lead to a very awkward situation when asked about your experience with If Statements after claiming to be competent in Excel on your CV.

  • No employer is going to take you seriously. Ever.
  • Provide a sensible e-mail address that conveys a professional image.


  • Supplying reference details can be costly and frosty. It takes up valuable space on your CV, and the last thing you want is a potential employer contacting your current employer before you’ve had chance to tell them you’re leaving. That’s an awkward turtle right there.
  • Some might advocate that by not supplying reference details you might make a potential employer suspicious. I disagree. There’s a lot more to lose by supplying it and if you’re CV is good enough, a potential employer will contact you for reference details.


  • With the majority of CV’s being submitted electronically these days, using a clear and legible file name is a must.
  • Submitting it with an unclear file name will make it harder for your CV to stand out and doesn’t indicate that it has been tailored to the role.

Curriculum Vitae

  • There is no need to title the document ‘CV’ or ‘Curriculum Vitae’, the recruiter will be well aware that what you’ve sent them is your CV.
  • The title should be your name, at the top of the page. After all, you do want them to remember your name.

Social Hiccups

  • Social media channels are becoming a more popular method of recruitment these days, and many recruiters have admitted to searching for a candidate’s social media accounts.
  • However, if there’s anything on those accounts that you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see, make sure they can’t find it. Adjust your privacy settings.
  • With that being said, if you’re applying to a role that involves any element of digital media, it may make a recruiter suspicious if you don’t at least provide your twitter handle.

We’re all likely to be guilty of a few of the mistakes mentioned above, but what’s important is that we learn from them and don’t make the same mistakes again. I recently updated my CV and after looking at the previous version of it, I’m definitely guilty of some of the sins mentioned above. If you’re updating your CV anytime soon, make sure you don’t contribute to the common CV mistakes.


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