11 Common CV Mistakes According to Employers (2024)

If you’re sending out loads of CVs and not hearing anything back, it may be time to give your CV a much-needed re-vamp.

There are plenty of CV mistakes that graduates make, which don’t seem like a big deal at the time, but can majorly diminish your chances of getting the job.

Here are just a few of the most common CV mistakes, according to five employers.

1. Having spelling errors and bad grammar

11 Common CV Mistakes According to Employers (1)

Whether you proofread it yourself, or get somebody else to, checking over your CV from start to finish can be the difference between being accepted and being rejected.

“Spelling mistakes are still so common, no matter how many times someone gets told,” said Jade Thomas, Office Manager at Pure Commercial Finance.

“The best thing to do is print it out and read it before sending. You always spot so much more when it’s printed.”

The Director and Founder of Careermap, Simon Bell, advised putting your application through a spell and grammar checker like Grammarly.

2. Exaggerating the truth

11 Common CV Mistakes According to Employers (2)

Writing that you’re an expert in Microsoft Excel might seem like a great idea at the time, but when you get the job and are asked to perform a V-lookup you will instantly regret your decision.

The managing director of Illustrate Digital, Scott Jones, said: “It’s important to be confident and sure about who you are and what you have to offer, but don't lie or oversell yourself.”

His advice? “Be real about what you know and what you're still keen to learn. Don’t forget that skills can always be taught.”

Emily Web, HR manager at Liberty Marketing said: “Whilst it might make your CV look a bit better, it will show in an interview if you can’t back your skill levels up when questioned.”

3. Poor formatting

Poor formatting is one of the first things employers notice when looking at your CV. It can reflect badly on you, as it looks like you don’t pay close attention to detail.

“Your CV is you on paper, so make sure the layout’s as close to perfect as possible. This means no typos or jarring font changes halfway through,” said Rebecca Martin, a recruitment manager atConnect Assist

Thomas said: “If something is formatted badly or candidates don’t advertise themselves well in the first few lines, then there isn’t much point in reading on.”

“We’re looking for CVs which are easily scannable, clean and professional” explained Bell.

4. An unoriginal personal profile

11 Common CV Mistakes According to Employers (4)

If your personal profile is full of clichés, you’re going to look like someone who doesn’t have original ideas.

Bell said: “You’d be surprised by how many CVs we’ve read which use the sentence ‘I’m a hard-working, driven individual, who works well independently and as part of a team.’

“Although, these are great qualities to have, we’re looking for you to expand on this, think how have you gained these skills? How does it relate to the position you’re applying for?”

Martin agrees that writing a short personal statement or a professional bio at the top of a CV is essential. She says it “should give an idea to a prospective employer of the type of person you are, your work ethic, values and what motivates you.”

5. Not focusing on your achievements

11 Common CV Mistakes According to Employers (5)

When writing CVs there can be a tendency to focus on your duties in that role rather than your achievements.

“It’s great to see where someone has worked,” said Martin, “but the focus should be on what a person has gained from their employment and what they can bring to a new company.”

Martin explained that when writing your CV “an outline of your key achievements should be where the most time and effort should be spent, followed by your skills & experience section.”

She added “Both sections should be concise, factual and easy to review at a glance. These will hook your future employer into your CV so that they pay attention to the other sections.”

6. Making your CV too long

11 Common CV Mistakes According to Employers (6)

We asked the employers how long they think the ideal CV should be.

“Ideally, no longer than one page,” said Martin. “If that’s not possible, make that front page really stand out so your new boss will want to pay attention to the rest.”

When it comes to CVs “nobody wants to read a book,” remarked Thomas, “especially when there are so many to go through."

Web thinks the length of an applicant’s CV really depends on the role. “You would expect a very experienced person’s CV to be two to three pages, whereas someone less experienced should have maximum of two pages.”

Bell advises not to worry too much about the length of your CV and recommends that you “focus on the quality of your CV rather than quantity.”

When writing a CV, he said to “highlight your skills, personality, career aspirations and education level.”

7. Putting the wrong contact information

11 Common CV Mistakes According to Employers (7)

Making mistakes about your contact details is a common mistake that can be detrimental to your job search.

“You can often have an applicant who looks like a great fit on paper, but you can’t reach them to discuss the position,” explained Martin. “I think this is because most people tend to focus on the main content rather than the small details.”

8. Not tailoring your CV to the specific role

11 Common CV Mistakes According to Employers (8)

“Rather than a generic CV, which is vague and sent out to a large number of employers, we want to see applicants tailor their CV to the job description,” advised Bell.

Tailoring your CV “shows that the candidate has performed research into the company and role and is a much better way of selling yourself”, said Jones.

It’s important to thoroughly read the job descriptions and pick up on key words and phrases, Martin advised.

Drawing the employer’s attention to relevant skills you’ve picked up in roles – even if the roles aren’t directly related to the job you’re applying for – is a good way to demonstrate that you’re a good fit for the company and the role.

Jones added: “It’s a bonus if you’ve got experience in similar roles, but if you haven’t then tailoring your CV to highlight how you’ve gained useful experience in other positions that will be relevant for the role you’re applying for is the next best thing.”

9. Including references

11 Common CV Mistakes According to Employers (9)

Although this isn’t always a no-no, Bell advises against including references unless explicitly asked, as these are “usually requested further down the recruitment process.”

Martin explained that for her, references on a CV are really nothing more than a name. “For successful candidate’s reference details would be requested and the relevant request would be sent to the referees”, she said.

10. Not including hobbies and interests

11 Common CV Mistakes According to Employers (10)

While it’s important not to include too many hobbies and interests, they can be good to show your personal side and demonstrate some valuable transferrable skills.

Web said: “Hobbies and interests are a great way of giving an insight into who you are as a person and how you could possibly fit within the team.”

Think about the things you’re passionate about which will support your application, Bell advised. “These hobbies can show teamwork, leadership, time management and communication skills, as well as showing your dedication and commitment ”, he explained.

11. Using an inappropriate email address

11 Common CV Mistakes According to Employers (11)

Bell explained that one thing that massively puts employers off is using an inappropriate email address in an application. Putting an unsuitable email address as a contact detail can instantly derail your application, as it can make you seem extremely unprofessional and overshadow the rest of your application.

Bell explains: “We really have seen it all, from [emailprotected] to the less mild versions, which we can’t repeat”.

“Unfortunately, no matter how good your CV is, employers won’t continue you to the next stage of the recruitment process, it’s doubtful that they’d even read it,” he warned.

Want more content like this Register for free site membership to get regular updates and your own personal content feed.

  • 11 Common CV Mistakes According to Employers (12)
  • 11 Common CV Mistakes According to Employers (13)

+ 6 others
saved this article

  • 11 Common CV Mistakes According to Employers (14)
  • 11 Common CV Mistakes According to Employers (15)

+ 7 others saved this article

11 Common CV Mistakes According to Employers (2024)


What should I avoid in my CV? ›

11 Common CV Mistakes According to Employers
  • Having spelling errors and bad grammar. ...
  • Exaggerating the truth. ...
  • Poor formatting. ...
  • An unoriginal personal profile. ...
  • Not focusing on your achievements. ...
  • Making your CV too long. ...
  • Putting the wrong contact information. ...
  • Not tailoring your CV to the specific role.

Which is a very common mistake while making a CV? ›

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.

What looks bad on a CV? ›

Spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors

Always double-check the spelling on your CV. Ensure you are writing in the correct tense and if you are using the third person, stick to it throughout the document. Avoid Americanisms and use the spell-check.

What makes a poor CV? ›

Poor layout and design

A poorly-designed CV is one of the biggest mistakes job applicants make. Your layout, formatting, and font should enhance the clarity of your CV and not work against you. An impactful, single-page CV does far more than two pages filled with fluffy writing.

How do you check your CV is good or bad? ›

What should I focus on when checking my resume?
  1. Avoid cliches and buzzwords.
  2. Don't lie on your resume.
  3. Edit typos and grammatical errors.
  4. List achievements, not responsibilities.
  5. Include related experience only.
  6. Create multiple tailored resumes.
  7. Embed your personality.
  8. Keep a clean and organized formatting throughout.

What are brick texts on a resume? ›

“The No. 1 thing I don't want to see on a resume is probably text bricks,” he says, which is to say “endless streams of text that have a lot of words but not a lot of content.”

Should a CV be totally honest? ›

There are a few reasons why it is imperative to be completely honest on your CV and display accuracy. Your potential new employer will do background checks on you before offering you a position. The smallest discrepancy can risk your credibility and reliability and put you out of the running for the position.

What is the difference between CV and resume? ›

The CV presents a full history of your academic credentials, so the length of the document is variable. In contrast, a resume presents a concise picture of your skills and qualifications for a specific position, so length tends to be shorter and dictated by years of experience (generally 1-2 pages).

How far back should a CV go? ›

As a rule of thumb, your CV should only list the last 10 to 15 years of work experience, or your last five to six employment positions within this time frame. It keeps your CV highly relevant to the prospective employer.

Should my CV have a picture of me? ›

Recruiters advise applicants to remove any CV photo and only focus on presenting achievements, skills, and experience relevant to the job. It always depends on the recruiter and the job role itself.

Should you put address on CV? ›

Historically, the convention was to include it, but today you must not do this. You should only share your address with an employer if they've offered you the job. If you live within commuting distance of the job, we advise including the name of the city, town or country where you live.

What does a weak resume look like? ›

What does a bad resume look like? While not all bad resumes look alike, some common qualities of bad resume examples are being messy, disorganized layout, being too long, using an unprofessional font, or simply having uninspired content.

Why you should not include a photograph of yourself on your resume? ›

It can be used to discriminate. Whether it's deliberate or not, a picture on your resume could result in discrimination on the basis of race, age, gender or other factors.

What are 5 common mistakes on your resume you should avoid? ›

Common Resume Mistakes To Avoid
  • Too Much Information.
  • Résumé Template without Any Imagination.
  • Wrong Level of English.
  • Wrong Contact Information.
  • Ignoring technological skills.
  • Focus on responsibilities rather than results.
  • No stats/data/quantified data.
  • Burying most vital information below the top fold.

Should I put everything on my CV? ›

A CV is a marketing document, not an exhaustive list of everything you've done in your professional career. On the other hand, if you've done temporary or freelance work that is especially relevant to your desired job — or will account for a long gap in employment — you may want to include it on your CV.

Should I put my ID number on my CV? ›

A CV should be short and to the point. Include: Personal information including surname; first names; date and country of birth; identity number; male/female; married/single; state of your health; driver's licence; address and contact numbers.

Should you include hobbies on a CV? ›

Adding hobbies and interests to your CV is optional. Many candidates tend to leave it out to save on valuable space. Yet, including your hobbies and interests can give a human touch to your resume and show recruiters that you are a well-rounded person with a life outside of work.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Neely Ledner

Last Updated:

Views: 5907

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (62 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Neely Ledner

Birthday: 1998-06-09

Address: 443 Barrows Terrace, New Jodyberg, CO 57462-5329

Phone: +2433516856029

Job: Central Legal Facilitator

Hobby: Backpacking, Jogging, Magic, Driving, Macrame, Embroidery, Foraging

Introduction: My name is Neely Ledner, I am a bright, determined, beautiful, adventurous, adventurous, spotless, calm person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.