What not to do on your CV

by | 30.06.23

Your CV is a marketing tool that needs to stand out. This CV will be the first impression an employer has of you. To get through to the interview stage your CV needs to stand out and the best way of doing this is by focusing on the experience, qualifications and skills that you have that suit the position you are applying for. Your CV needs to be a winner so here are some things you should avoid doing on it:

Providing irrelevant personal information

It is important to consider the information you are sharing with employers. Never put a photograph, your date of birth, nationality and marital status on your CV. Similarly if you have social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook for personal use, you do not need to share these.

Burying important information

Your CV will only have a short period of time to impress. The employer will look at your CV and think “why should I interview this person? What will they bring to our Company?”. Make relevant information stand out on your CV. This could be by putting some information in bold and using persuasive language i.e.: action words and achievements.

Spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors

Always 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 CV. Avoid Americanisms and use the spell-check. If you struggle to spot mistakes ask a friend to look over your CV for you or use spell-checking software like Grammarly.

Unexplained gaps in employment

Having unexplained gaps in your employment history raises questions. It makes employers nervous. If you are lucky they will briefly wonder what you were doing during that mystery period but then there is a good possibility that your CV will be folded into a paper aeroplane and thrown towards the rubbish bin.

Lying or misleading information

Employers can spot information that does not add up. For example they are always on the lookout for inflated qualifications, salaries, job titles and achievements. Employers are also conducting increasingly vigorous background checks on candidates. This can range from conducting a Google search on you to employing a specialist candidate checking service. So something that you think is just ‘bending the truth’ could really trip you up.

Adding references to your CV

You may be thinking ‘What? Why not?’ References on a CV are surely standard practice? References are generally requested further along the recruitment process, so there’s really no benefit to adding them to your CV and they just take up valuable space. The benefits of leaving them out of your CV far outweigh the benefits of including them.

A long waffly CV

Keep your CV concise and to the point. It should be no more than two pages of A4. Focus on your most recent and most relevant experience. The employer wants to read a tailored CV focused on transferrable experience, skills and achievements. Think about what you have done in different roles that an employer will be interested in. The same rule applies to qualifications as well. For example an employer is not interested in your swimming certificates!

Badly formatted CV

These days your CV will most likely be read on-screen before it’s printed off. If indeed it is ever printed. Therefore format your CV so that it is easy to read on screen. Stick to fonts such as Calibri or Arial and font size 11 or 12. Also if you upload your CV as a Word document the employer could have a different version and this could make the document look poorly formatted. Uploading a PDF can be more reliable.

Meaningless introductions

Does your CV have a paragraph at the top that goes something like: “Dynamic, enthusiastic, sales-orientated, IT literate, results driven Manager seeking an exciting and challenging new opportunities blah blah blah”. Boring! Your CV has got to hit the employer smack bang between the eyes! Its got to make them sit up and scramble across their desk for the phone to call you and give you the job on the spot! Or to put it in another way your CV has got to get you noticed and  invited for an interview. So an opening paragraph that says everything and nothing at the same time is not going to do it. Write a short, simple and benefit focused headline about yourself this is much better and will get you results.

The “so what” CV

We end where we started. Your CV has a tough job to do. It will probably be in the hands of the employer for a very small amount of time unless you smeared it with Super Glue before you sent it. This would be an inventive touch but is also a “no-no”. To give yourself the best chance of it actually being read make sure it looks right, make sure its not too long, that it is laid out correctly, properly formatted and so on. If you do all these things then you have a chance – so don’t throw it away. Your CV has to sell you, it has to sound interesting and it has to make you sound as though you are going to be right for the job.

So to finalise it is crucial to put thought and effort into creating a strong CV as it’s the first impression that an employer will have of you. By highlighting the mistakes to avoid I hope we have provided you with valuable guidance that will increase your chances of getting a job.

Good Luck.

Angela Burton