CV writing, some things to avoid

Posted 23/6/2018 by George Jamison

9 CV mistakes

When it comes to writing your CV, the things you omit can be just as important as the things you include. Even if you are the greatest candidate in the word; sloppy mistakes in your CV can get you instantly rejected. So if you’re struggling to land job interviews; check out StandOut CV‘s latest infographic to ensure that your CV doesn’t contain any of the following mistakes.


1. An unprofessional email address

Your CV is a professional document and recruiters will be judging you from the very first moment they open it. So it’s a very bad idea to brand the top of your CV with an email address like “” – it looks hugely unprofessional and will cause readers to seriously doubt your credibility. If you have an email address that seemed really cool when you first set it up, but now leaves you slightly embarrassed; then set up a new one for your job hunt. Using your full name for your email address is simple and professional but avoid using nicknames.


2. Meaningless clichés

Is your CV full of buzzwords and clichés like “hardworking team player” or “motivated go-getter”? If so you may want to re-evaluate it. These types of clichés are extremely overused and don’t actually tell recruiters much about you. If you want employers to know that you are a hard working team player; provide some real life examples of times you have worked in a team and the results you achieved – this will hold much more weight than simply writing “I am a hard working team player”.


3. Skills graphs

Skills graphs may look attractive but they don’t often provide the reader with real tangible explanation of your skill levels. To give an indications of skill levels that recruiters can actually relate to, use tangible measurements such as:

  • Length of experience – “3 years HTML coding experience”
  • Qualifications and training – “Windows certified”
  • Scale of tasks – “Led a team of 5 in the management of a £50k event”


4. Photographs

Unless you’re an actor or model, a photograph will not be necessary to prove your value to an employer. Recruiters are far more interested in your skills and experience than what you look like. Space on your CV is limited, so use it wisely by filling it with compelling information that will persuade readers that you are worthy of an interview.


5. Too many pages

With employers sometimes receiving hundreds of applications per vacancy; you just can’t expect them to read a 5 page CV. Recruiters and hiring managers tend to be very busy people so it’s crucial to communicate your value to them quickly. A CV of 2 pages in length is ideal to get your point across without boring readers, so try and stick to that guideline as closely as you can. If your CV is coming in too long, there a couple of actions you can take to cut it down without losing any of it’s value;

  1. Shorten older roles:
    If you have lots of roles dating back many years, you don’t need to provide huge amounts of detail in them. Recruiters will mainly focus on your more recent roles, so older positions can be shortened to brief summaries that provide enough information to describe your career path.
  1. Remove irrelevant details:
    Review your CV honestly and look for details that are aren’t relevant to the roles you are applying for. Do you really need to include all of your hobbies and interests? Can you cut out some of the non-essential responsibilities from your role descriptions?


6. Unexplained gaps in employment

Sometimes there will be gaps in your employment; it’s a fairly common occurrence for people to take career breaks. But if you leave a big gap in your work history without explaining it, you will worry employers. It gives the impression that you just haven’t done anything for that period. Don’t be afraid to write about time out travelling or completing personal projects when writing your CV. It’s better to show that you’ve been doing something constructive than nothing at all. Some employers even like to see activities like travelling as it can demonstrate pro-activity and social abilities.

Another thing you shouldn’t be ashamed of including, is time out due to serious illness. Illness is something that’s out of your control and good employers will not discriminate against you for it.


7. Spelling and grammar mistakes

With automatic spell checkers coming as standard with most word processing packages, you really shouldn’t have incorrectly spelt words on your CV. It goes without saying that spelling mistakes are a huge red flag for recruiters and hiring managers. Don’t become completely reliant on spellcheck to eliminate all errors though – it won’t always pick up typos or miss-used words, so take the time to proof read your CV or maybe even get a friend to double check it for you.


8. Elaborate fonts

Stick to an easy-to-read font to avoid putting your reader off! Text that is difficult to read, too fancy or unprofessional can make your CV look tacky.


9. Big chunks of text

Huge un-broken paragraphs of text are a reader’s worst nightmare – especially when those readers are looking at hundreds of CVs every week. Instead of making employers wade through large messy chunks of text; break the information up into short paragraphs and bullet points. This way they will be able skim read your CV and easily spot the information that they are looking for.

About the author: Andrew is a writer for Standout CVs.


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