Common CV Mistakes

I’m writing this article on the train on the way back from a CV Clinic in Cardiff today. Perhaps more than ever it occurred to me that there were so many things wrong with people’s CV’s that were common to many people. I can’t believe that this subject isn’t being taught in schools and colleges as surely it can’t be a coincidence that people keep making the same mistakes on their CV all the time?

It’s not just at CV Clinics either. When I’m reviewing CV’s then the same things keep coming up again and again. I guess part of the problem is that when you search for “CV Tips” in Google then there are about 46 Million pages in the results so I guess it’s not really that surprising.

As much as anything and perhaps to get things off my chest I’m going to list the mistakes and explain why that is such a bad thing in your CV. Here’s my top 5 CV mistakes

CV Mistake (1) Year of birth in Email Address

I really do wish I had a pound for every time I’ve seen this. It’s usually in the format of or The reader may think Jane was born in 1964 even if she wasn’t.

This is a problem for 2 reasons:CV Mistakes to avoid at all costs

Identity Theft – You have no idea where the CV will end up or who will read it and also, people will discriminate against you based on your age. Of course we have legislation supposedly stopping this but in truth, do you really know why your CV was passed over? It could simply be that the reader thought you were too young or too old for what they had in mind and passed you by.

The answer is to get yourself a generic email that can’t be mistaken for a year of birth, for example, and then get rid of the email address once you’ve found a job. It may also stop your main email address from being spammed by unscrupulous people.

CV Mistake (2) Spelling and Grammar Mistakes

I know, it’s pretty unbelievable in the day of the spell checker but simply forgetting to turn your document settings to UK English as opposed to US might mean you autocorrect to organize not organise, etc.

Please read through the document carefully and, particularly if English isn’t your first language, get a native English speaker to check the grammar. If you don’t do this, the CV will be rejected more times than not.

CV Mistake (3) Funky CV Templates

The main problem with a template is that it is a template and someone else will probably have used it. Most people don’t go past the first couple of results when searching for anything so how many people do you think are using that template?

CV MistakesAnother reason is that many CV templates aren’t optimised for mobile or use on a tablet. This means that your carefully crafted document which looks great on a laptop may look awful on a smart phone. Make the document as simple as possible and save as a .pdf if you aren’t sure about compatibility.

CV Mistake (4) – Not Keyword Optimising the CV

Recruiters and employers will search a CV database (also called a job site or job board) and look for candidates using keywords. If those keywords aren’t in your CV, you are not going to be found as easily as you could be.

Research the keywords that someone might use to find someone like you. Think about it this way; If your toilet is cv mistakes to avoidbroken then you will search Google looking for an emergency plumber. You don’t want search results for electricians! CV databases work the same way.

CV Mistake (5) – Not Highlighting what you have Delivered or Achieved

I wrote a really detailed article on this subject a little while ago which can be accessed here:

In short, focus on what you have delivered, not what you have done. Your job title will tell the reader in most cases what you do or did. They are really interested in what you can deliver, i.e. why you stand out for the right reasons.

There are hundreds of other mistakes that I see including: Lying on the CV, No contact details, Long CV’s, CV’s that are too short, Gaps in the CV, Missing Job Titles, Missing Dates and many more. The reason why I wrote this is that I hope that someone benefit from this and gets a new job as a result. Please let me know if this helps.






Author: Glenn Hughes

I’m a professional CV writer who also writes website content, LinkedIn profiles, helps people with bespoke job applications and more. I’ve been writing for the internet since 2009 and have many published articles.


  • Glenn Hughes

    I'm a professional CV writer who also writes website content, LinkedIn profiles, helps people with bespoke job applications and more. I've been writing for the internet since 2009 and have many published articles.

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