8 Worst CV Mistakes to Avoid

Jun 24, 2024
8 Worst CV Mistakes to Avoid

A CV that accurately describes your experience and qualifications while also reflecting your personality and aspirations is a pivotal part of the job-hunting process. Your CV is your introduction to a future employer, so you want to ensure there are no errors and it represents you in a polished and professional way. In this article, we look at common resume mistakes that you should try to avoid.

1.  Spelling and Grammar Errors

The first and most obvious is to ensure all spelling and grammar is accurate. Errors will suggest you don’t have a good command of the English language and don’t have good attention to detail. Errors could also immediately lead to automatic disqualification and not even give you the opportunity to get to the interview stage. Tools such as Grammarly will help you avoid making these mistakes, as well as getting someone else to review the CV before submitting it for a new role.

2. Incorrect or Missing Contact Information

There is nothing more annoying when a recruiter or employer sees a CV they like, but they’re unable to get hold of that person due to an inaccurate phone number or email address. You don’t want to have done all that work to fall at the last hurdle. It is crucial you have an activated voicemail when job hunting so you know if you have missed an important call and can return it promptly. Also, a personalised and professional voicemail will help give an excellent first impression.

We also suggest that any email address you set up be professional—not one you set up when you were still at school with your nickname, for example. Remember who will have access to this information.  

3. Lack of Tailoring to the Job Description

It is helpful to tailor your CV to the specific role you are applying for rather than making it too generic. This will reassure the reader that this particular role is what you are looking for and that you have the skills to succeed in. Particularly in your introductory profile at the top of your CV, make sure it doesn’t say you are looking to work in the finance sector if you are applying for a role in property. Likewise, don’t say you want a role in marketing if you are applying for a PA role. This will immediately discourage the reader and make them think you haven’t done your research.

If you know the employer is seeking certain skills, ensure you have emphasised this on your CV. Do look through the job spec and make sure you have highlighted all relevant previous experience. 

4. Ignoring Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is an HR software application that helps businesses manage recruitment and hiring tasks digitally. It allows hiring managers and recruiters to cut through the volume of resumes received so they can focus their time on the most qualified applicants. ATS software works by scanning each CV submitted for a vacancy, using keyword trackers to find candidates with the essential skills and experience required and then ranking them in order of suitability.

Here are a few tips which will help your CV to stand out:

  • Research the company, as well as the role you’re applying for
  • Study the job spec and include keywords relevant to the job
  • Specify your qualifications by name
  • Use simple formatting and bullet point duties
  • Avoid using graphics, tables, or logos
  • Pick a professional font

5. Overly Long or Too Short Resumes

We recommend keeping resumes to one page for early career professionals and a maximum of two pages for more experienced candidates. A hiring manager or recruiter will usually have a large volume of resumes to filter through, and they can quickly lose interest if your CV is too long and not concise. Bullet-pointing parts of your CV should make it easy to read and not overwhelm the reader with too much information. In addition to this, ensure you are only including the relevant information. If there is something the reader wishes to understand in further detail, they can always ask you later at the interview stage.

Here, we talk more about how to list temp work on your CV.

6. Poor Formatting and Layout 

When competing against many other applications, having a clean and professional resume will help you to stand out. Ensure you use the same font, text size, and line spacing throughout the document. Use bullet points to outline your duties in previous roles and ensure there is enough white space between titles. This will ensure your CV doesn’t look overcrowded.

7. Having significant gaps in employment

It is important to explain any gaps in employment. You may have taken a year out to travel, study, or work on a personal project. It is always better to explain it rather than leave the reader with question marks. In addition to this, if you’ve taken on many roles on a temporary or contract basis, make sure to highlight that. This short-term employment is valuable but can lead to a resume with lots of movement, which can look unattractive to a future employer if not clearly explained. 

8. Unprofessional photo

Some candidates like to include a photo on their CV. However, you want to ensure the image is a professional headshot and represents you in the right way. Remember that having your name and work history makes it easy for the hiring manager to find you on LinkedIn and possibly other social media platforms. Therefore, ensure your photo on LinkedIn is professional and that any other social media accounts remain private.

Read, Review & Revise your Resume Regularly 

As discussed in this article, there are simple ways to avoid making mistakes on your CV. For additional guidance on creating a standout CV, you can find valuable advice on crafting a professional resume on Jobgether's CV tips section.  If you would like further information on how to write a professional CV and see templates, please look at Oriel Partners’ CV templates


About The Author

Olivia Coughtrie is Co-founder at Oriel Partners, a PA & administrative recruitment agency in London. If you are looking for a new role, the team would love to help. We have a team of experienced consultants who are on hand to support you through the job-hunting process. Oriel Partners works on PA and administrative roles across all industry sectors, often partnering with clients on an exclusive basis, giving our candidates access to some of the most unique and high-calibre roles in London.


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