9 Common CV Mistakes You Could Be Making!

CV mistakes blog

When you’re applying for a job, you want your CV to be the absolute best it can be. This little piece of paper has a big job to do: it needs to sell your skills, education, work experience and generally tell employers that you’re the ideal person for the job.

But so often, we see CVs coming in from excellent candidates that are letting themselves down by easily-avoidable CV errors. So, before you send your CV to a recruiter or employer, check for any of these common CV mistakes – it could mean the difference between you landing a new role or not!



1. Not including a personal profile Your personal profile (also known as a CV summary or opening statement) is your 1-2 short paragraphs (max. 150 words) CV opener that you put at the top of your CV. Think of it like a short and sharp sales pitch that clearly tells recruiters and employers who you are and what you’re looking for in your next role.

You might think personal profiles don’t really matter – readers will learn about who you are from the rest of your CV, right? – but they really do. It never fails to surprise us how many CVs cross our desks that don’t include a personal profile. If your CV is missing one, time to do something about it!

2. Writing in the third person
If you’re not used to telling people about your own achievements, it’s natural you might feel more comfortable to talk about yourself in the third person instead of the first person.

But in practice, the third person creates distance between you and the reader, and makes the experience of reading your CV bizarre because it sounds like someone else wrote it for you.

The sweet spot is to write everything in the first person, but only use ‘I’ when it’s really necessary. So for example, ‘I managed a team of juniors, supporting them towards monthly company targets’ becomes ‘Managed a team of juniors, supporting them towards monthly company targets’.

3. Bad grammar and spelling
You might think your CV is free from any grammar and spelling errors, but how sure are you about that?

It’s always difficult to notice your own grammar mistakes – particularly if you’ve been staring at your CV too long. Here are our top tips to ensure your CV is always error-free:

      • Ask someone else to proofread it

      • Try reading it aloud – if you stumble anywhere, employers will too

      • Use a free spelling and grammar tool like Grammarly

      • Always read over your CV in a different medium, for example on mobile or tablet or better still – print it off. You’d be surprised how much more you pick up on just seeing your CV in a different format.

    4. Excessive capitalisation
    A lot of candidates seem to think that capitalising everything you possibly can makes you sound more professional, but it doesn’t. Research has also shown that capitalised words are harder to read than lowercase ones, so over-capitalisation isn’t great for your CV.

    When it comes to job titles, the main rule to remember is that if you’re talking about job titles more generally, don’t capitalise them; if you’re talking about a specific job title, do capitalise it.

    A helpful way to know which is the right option is whether you would use ‘a’ or ‘the’ before it. e.g. ‘I worked as a project manager for an agency in London’ vs. ‘I was the Project Manager for [Agency Name]’ in London.

    5. Poor formatting
    As recruiters, we spend an average of just 7 seconds reading your CV first time round. If your formatting makes it difficult or unpleasant to read, this instantly makes us want to move on to the next one.

    The good news is, formatting your CV to make it easy to read isn’t difficult. Here are some of our top CV formatting tips:

        • Use bullet points, no big paragraphs of text.

        • Make it scannable with nice-looking headers. We love to see whitespace (i.e. space between the text)

        • Don’t cram too much text onto one page. Reducing your font to pt.8 so you can squeeze as many words onto a single page as possible will only result in making your CV tricky to read.

        • Use a CV template! Why spend time creating a CV from scratch when there are literally thousands of CV templates available online?

      6. Backwards work history
      Your work history is telling the reader what you’re most qualified to do and what your most recent experience has been. So if you start your CV with an internship you did 8 years ago at the top, you’re underselling yourself.

      You want your work history to appear in chronological order, but most importantly – with the most recent job first. The last 5 years of your career are the most important, so focus on that and if you run out of space, just remove any roles that aren’t relevant.

      And please pay close attention to your tenses: Your current role should be written in the present tense and everything else should be written in the past tense.

      7. Not showing your personality It’s likely you will be one of many CVs a recruiter or employer receives for the position you’re applying for. Is there anything on your CV that will help you stand out and be memorable to an employer?

      Depending who you ask, some people will tell you not to mention extracurricular interests and hobbies on a CV, but it’s actually something we actively look for. Just a brief mention of the fact you play the guitar or enjoy hiking adds a much-needed dose of personality to the paper that helps us identify you against the other twenty CVs received for the position.

      8. Inconsistency
      Whether you have inconsistent information, formatting, fonts, tenses – inconsistency really is your CV’s nemesis! If your CV is all over the place, it gives the impression you’re like that in your job too.

      One particular mistake we see time and again is inconsistency between CVs and LinkedIn profiles. As recruiters and employers, we know you’re less likely to embellish the truth on LinkedIn as it’s open to the public, so we will cross-reference your CV with your work history on LinkedIn to make sure they match up.

      If it looks like you’ve exaggerated part of your work history or lied on your CV, this will undoubtedly cost you the job opportunity.

      9. Including irrelevant details
      You want to keep your CV as concise and up-to-date as possible. CVs are not for telling a recruiter about every single job responsibility you’ve ever had in your life – they’re for demonstrating the relevant skill and experience required for the role you’re applying for.

      This may mean having a different CV for each role you want to apply for so you can tailor them to the job and ensure you don’t include any superfluous detail. Focus on achievements rather than responsibilities and make sure you proofread it with the job description in mind.

      For example, if you bold keywords that are related to a specific job description (which is a great technique!) have you checked these words are still relevant to the next role you apply for?

      Wondering if you’re making any CV mistakes that could be costing you job interviews? Head over to our CV Review section 

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