Common mistakes people make on CVs

Even getting shortlisted for a job is like climbing a mountain in the current job market so it’s best to be sure your CV doesn’t get discounted for common mistakes. Here are some errors to avoid, drawn from my experience of both writing CVs and recruiting for positions across a wide range of sectors and levels of roles.


Capitals generally suggest shouting and it is more difficult to read sentences and paragraphs written in capitals. I have seen CVs written totally in capitals and they are fairly likely to go straight to the “no” pile.

2. Listing your career in chronological order

This is an older style of CV writing and means the interviewer has to search for the information they need.  If they are doing an initial scan and sift of a large pile of CVs this could mean they don’t think you have what they’re looking for and you don’t make it through the first stage.

Current form is for CVs to be written in reverse chronological order so the most relevant and recent information about you is on the first page of your CV. There’s plenty more CV writing tips on my blog, so do explore the other articles.

3. Multiple Personal objectives

One CV I saw recently had more than four options for ideal industries or roles they would be interested in!  Immediately this is a turn off for an employer as it shows a lack of care and attention to their organisation and tells them you are putting your CV in for lots of jobs with lots of people. You are unlikely to succeed with this approach and would be better customising your CV to each role you send it for.

4. No summary

A summary is your launch pad, your sales pitch which wraps up your package of skills, experience and personality. It defines you like a product – your brand, your key features and benefits to sell you to the employer.

5. Dodgy email address

Think about the home email address you use on your CV make sure it sounds professional and isn’t inappropriate, humorous or a work email at your current employer!

6. Not tailored to the job role

I once saw the same candidate apply for three very different roles in the same organisation with the same CV. Each role demanded very different skills. Needless to say the individual didn’t make it through to any of the interviews.

You should tailor your CV or job application to the actual job role you are applying for so that it makes it easy for the recruiter to quickly match your skills and experience across to the needs of the job.

7. Lack of explanation of gaps in employment

People often have gaps in their employment for genuine reasons but it’s important to let your recruiter know these reasons so they are not left guessing and don’t jump to conclusions.  Explain why the gap exists, whether it was time off following redundancy, for travelling/gap year or to bring up children for example.

8. Not updating your CV with most recent job/experience

One example I saw recently had a whole job missing! This shows a lack of care and interest in the job/company you are applying for a role with.

9. Generic job responsibilities and duties

Employers want do know what YOU did or achieved in your roles, they do not need you to list your entire job description, but what were you responsible for, how did you go about your responsibilities and what your key achievements were in each role.

10. Long sentences and paragraphs or no bullet points

Large chunks of text are going to make your CV more difficult to scan read.  Make it easy for your recruiter to pull out and highlight relevant skills, experiences that they can apply to the job you are applying for by using bullet points.

11. Including incorrect referees

People often leave referees on their CVs for years so when an employer tries to contact them the person has left the business.

You don’t have to provide details of referees on your CV these days, but if you do, make sure you give the right contact details for someone who you know will be happy to provide you with a reference. It’s worth regularly checking in with these people to let them know you have used their details and have applied for a position, meaning potentially they may be contacted.

12. Too long

You don’t want to bore your reader.  Your CV should absolutely be no more than three pages. Any longer and you are likely to end up on the “no” pile. It’s better to leave out some detail than to be disqualified for providing too much.


There is so much competition for jobs especially in the current economic climate. You must invest time in your CV to increase your chances of getting through to interview stage.

Be especially careful on job search sites where you upload your CV – double check it is the right CV on the site that you want to submit for each role.

Remember, the first challenge is to make it through the first sift. Interviewers will quickly scan CVs to ensure they tick off certain criteria – if yours doesn’t do this typically on the first page then your chances of getting through to interview stage will be significantly reduced and those who have invested the extra time will succeed.

How’s your CV? Are you guilty of any of the above? Perhaps you’re an employer and you’ve seen some of these? Please do share your comments below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.