Some Common Mistakes That One Should Avoid Making CVs


This is the #1 mistake because when you get caught in a lie; your chances of ever being hired by the company in question are gone. Over in the United Kingdom, an independent job board by the name of CV Library conducted a survey which made interesting reading. Its research discovered that almost 29% of applicants lie on their CVs with up to 10% of these lies described as ‘significant’.

All we can say is: Don’t expect to get away with it! An experienced hiring manager can spot inconsistencies or lies in CVs and when this happens, you can forget about an interview. The most common lies told on CVs include:

      • Exaggerating skills, accomplishments & responsibilities.
      • Employment dates & history.
      • Academic degree.
      • Job titles.

Trust is an essential element in professional relationships and this gets breached the moment you tell a fib on your application. Once it is uncovered, there is no going back.

Not Tailoring Your Application

Remember, hiring managers are trained to spot ‘stock’ CVs so it will take them a matter of moments to determine whether you have put the effort into creating an application tailored for the position or not. It will take them even less time to dismiss you as a candidate! One of the most common CV mistakes is to include a job title that doesn’t match the posting.

In order to stand out, only apply for positions that are relevant to your experience and your passions. Through this filtering process, you may be invigorated and feel compelled to create CVs tailored to each position. Believe us when we say that hiring managers can spot the difference between a candidate applying for a job to pay the bills and one that appears genuinely excited about the opening. Recruiters from each company will be seeking a different experience or skill so read the job description carefully and figure out how your unique abilities can be displayed on the page to set you apart from the rest.

Lack of Focus in Your Employment History

This is pertinent mainly if you have experience in more than one role. If you have been employed in various sectors and enjoyed different responsibilities, it can be easy to try and cram everything onto the page. As a result, you end up with a jumbled mess featuring a host of information irrelevant to the posting.

As we’ve already pointed out, each role you apply for will require a different set of skills and responsibilities. It may be a good idea to begin by writing generic CVs for each industry you have worked in such as Marketing, Sales & Customer Service. This should make it easier to find and highlight the relevant experience for each job opening.

Including Everything

Further to the point above, it is a mistake to include all the jobs you have held because it may give off the impression that you’re a ‘job hopper’. Prospective employers will not want to hire someone who has held 12 jobs in the last 10 years. Recruitment and training are expensive processes so hiring managers want candidates who look as if they will stay for the long haul.

If you have worked in a number of short-term positions, place the spotlight on your accomplishments and skills instead of your work history.

No Cover Letter Attached

While your CV can provide hiring managers with an overview of your experience and skills, it does a poor job of offering insight into your personality. Since a Cover letter is a fantastic opportunity to market yourself, failure to provide one really pushes you down the pecking order. Many hiring managers also believe that not attaching a cover letter is a sign of a generic CV.

If you have worked in a number of short-term positions, place the spotlight on your accomplishments and skills instead of your work history.

Poor Formatting

Hiring managers will initially ‘scan’ your CV so if it features long blocks of text with little in the way of highlighting or bullet points, they won’t bother reading on. A well formatted CV will use the right font and be easy to read because of the pleasant layout.

For the record, hiring managers tend to prefer Times New Roman font size 12 although fonts such as Bell MT, Georgie and Arial are also acceptable. Always ensure the headlines on your CV are in bold and don’t be afraid to Italicize and underline salient points.

Too Long

Since you know how busy recruiters are, why would you send in a 3-4-page CV littered with completely irrelevant information? Your CV should never be more than two pages long and frankly, this is more than enough as long as you include the most valuable information.

Allowing Important Information To Get Buried

Time is of the essence so your goal must be to get the hiring manager to read the most crucial information first. As always, this requires you to go through the job opening with a fine-tooth comb and ensure the most relevant details of your career to date are the first things a recruiter sees.

In your professional profile section, simply highlight the most pertinent career achievements & skills in no more than five sentences. Resist the urge to ‘jazz’ things up here and provide details and facts instead.

Employment Gaps

A lot of people take time off from work for a variety of reasons including travel, raising a child or studying. Unfortunately, failure to explain these employment gaps can leave a less than flattering impression and cause your CV to be overlooked without a second thought.

In the event of a long employment gap, you can use your cover letter to explain.

Attaching Pictures

This mainly relates to CVs sent online but some people do believe sending a photo with a postal CV is a good idea! When you attach a picture to an online application, it is possible that the image file will actually ‘choke’ the software designed to scan CVs.

Additionally, attaching a photograph provides recruiters with the opportunity to prejudge you based on your picture.

Lack of Detail

It is a huge mistake to be vague when it comes to the details on your CV. Successful applications not only mention your skills/experience, they provide measurable details whenever possible. When it comes to outlining previous experience, you must not only discuss the responsibilities, you must also provide outcomes.

Not Proofreading

Instead of being lazy and relying on spell-check, take the time to read through your CV for errors. The best option here is to get a friend to take a look at the document for you. They will probably spot mistakes you missed. Also, take extra care when listing previous employment dates to make sure they don’t overlap.

Including References

Do not add any references unless this is specified in the job description. A quick note to say ‘references available upon request’ is sufficient. You have a limited amount of space to work with on your CV so don’t waste it! Even if an employer does ask for references, you can include an extra sheet.

No Personal Profile

This is a great way to begin your CV; a personal profile is a 3-4 sentence summary which outlines the role you’re seeking and explains your interest in that particular job. When this is tailored to the job description, you immediately capture the attention of the recruiter.