CV Mistakes

5 Common CV Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

CV mistakes are easy to avoid if you take a little care. Did you know that 76% of CVs are ignored if your email address is considered unprofessional? Would it also surprise you to learn that recruiters spend on average only 7 seconds scanning your CV before deciding to shortlist or reject your application? A good CV needs to be both professionally written and visually impressive. Here are 5 common CV mistakes and how to avoid them.

CV Mistakes #1: Poor Presentation

Poor CV design and layout can indicate to the potential employer that you are someone who rushes their work. It also indicates that you don’t have an eye for design and presentation. Design pitfalls include the use of excessive, flamboyant or uncoordinated colours. Mismatched fonts, overuse of bold and extravagant backgrounds are also CV design mistakes that can leave the recruiter with the wrong impression.

Therefore, you should keep your CV design simple.

  • Use professional pre-designed CV templates available from free graphic-design websites such as Canva or Design Bold.
  • The font style should be kept standard  (Times New Roman, Helvetica and Arial are common to all computers) and the font size readable (Size 12).
  • Use a header on the CV to highlight your name in bold.
  • Highlight your contact information and any important links.
  • Use typography to break up sections and direct the eye.
  • Do not include a photograph of yourself. Studies have shown that this can distract recruiters from the information contained in the document.

CV Mistakes #1: Spelling and Grammar Errors

Another common mistake, even in the age of spellcheck and autocorrect, are misspelt words and grammatical errors. It is always a good idea to proofread your finished CV multiple times. It’s also advisable to ask someone else to proofread it too.

Grammar mistakes are one of the top reasons a recruiter will stop reading your CV. If they cannot decipher what you are trying to communicate they will simply stop trying.  Avoid complicated language and don’t use essay style writing.

One tip for proofing your CV is to read it backwards. By doing so, the eye concentrates on the individual word and structure of the sentence, instead of the flow.

CV Mistakes #3: Too Generic

Many applicants submit a CV that is too broad and not customised to the role. Applicants may want to submit a CV that shows a range of experience, skills and qualifications to a prospective employer.  However, the recruiter is looking for a very defined set of qualities in a candidate and will quickly dismiss a candidate whom they cannot envisage being a good fit.

Although it can be a time-consuming task to tailor each CV, it is one that will result in a higher return on investment.

To help cut down on the time you spend tailoring your CV, create a master CV template and duplicate it each time you need to edit it.  Have the skeleton of the document prepared, up-to-date and easily accessible when needed to edit.

 CV Mistakes #4: Insufficient Information 

A CV that is lacking in relevant information will generally lead to a rejection by the recruiter. Don’t focus on your responsibilities, instead you should describe your achievements. Include facts and figures to provide weight to your claims. For instance, “I increased the marketing department’s quarterly growth by 56% through strategic communications planning.”

CV Mistakes #5: Too Much Personal Information 

Another big mistake that job seekers make is including too much personal information.  Leave out your age, date of birth, where you live and any social media links that are not relevant to the position. It is advisable to include a user-friendly link to your LinkedIn page (not a long link).

Another mistake is discussing your hobbies and interests. A recruiter has no interest in what you do in your spare time unless it is relevant to the role you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a job in a company who has recently invested in sustainability you should mention your interest in green issues and your passion for the environment.