1 – Errors

This sounds obvious, but it really is important. When an employer has 100 CVs to sift through, not knowing a comma from a colon or ‘there’ from ‘their’ can result in your CV being tossed. Whether you look careless or poorly educated, neither will help your career advance. 


Swamped under a lot of CVs

Don’t bury an employer under your CV, photo: Flickr//


2 – Personal Information 

Giving as much detail about yourself as possible may seem like the right thing to do, but you should never include any of the following:

• National Insurance number

• Relationship status

• Date of Birth/Age

• Height, weight, hair colour, or other personal attributes

• Number of children

• A photo of yourself


Allow yourself to be judged only on your professional merits and not on your personal characteristics. It is illegal for employers to discriminate against potential employees on the basis of personal characteristics. That said, people naturally judge others, don’t let them judge you on anything but your quality.


3 – A Touch of Flair 

You might think that fancy paper helps you stand out, or that unusual, coloured font makes you stand apart from the rest of the applicants. Don’t do it. True, you want your CV to stand out, but what is more important is standing out for the right reasons: quality. There are some employers, in media/marketing/creative industries, who might take this in good humour, but it is not the norm.


4 – Buzz Words 

Once advised by everyone, buzz words have become more cliché, far too common and much less significant. On your CV you should not just throw words in to tick boxes, you should make more of a statement to back up such claims.

Don’t say you’re successful, success should be defined by your employer, not something you decree yourself. Do give evidence of your past successes, quantify what you have achieved.

Don’t say you’re resourceful, this is a skill that you are better showing through an example. If you truly are resourceful, it shouldn’t be any effort to show it on your CV.

Don’t call yourself goal oriented, because this may hint that you achieve your target and then stop working. Do say that you enjoy meeting and exceeding set targets.


5 – A long, rambling CV 

Keep your CV short, punchy and to the point; no more than 2 pages of A4. Hiring managers look at a CV for about 6 seconds before making a decision, so you can’t afford to ramble. When your CV is too long it may suggest that you’ve been job hopping, which is a turn off for employers, or you can’t write concisely, which is often just as unappealing. If you’re older than most recent graduates, how do you describe a job you had 20 or even 30 years ago? The answer is simple, don’t! The CV should focus on your recent experience and achievements (this is the same for qualifications). If you really think you need to mention more past experience, it would be wise to create an independent ‘Previous Employment’ page, making reference to it in your cover letter.


Crumpled up CVs

Don’t let you CV be overlooked and thrown away, photo: Flickr//


6 – Negativity 

A CV is your opportunity to shine, don’t tarnish yourself with needless negativity. You should never be found giving excuses or reasons why your career may not have progressed as you wished. Neither should you include ‘reasons for leaving’ or blame a previous employer, this can be viewed as disloyalty and won’t present you in a good light.


7 – Style 

Don’t be repetitive, even in your use of words. Everyone has words or phrases they prefer to use, it may even be second nature to you, but be sure that you haven’t repeatedly used them through the CV, it doesn’t look smart or imaginative.

Paradoxically, you shouldn’t use too many words either. Avoid making your sentences too complicated. Shorter sentences are easier to understand. Do not give lengthy explanations when all that is needed is the plain facts.

Don’t use long paragraphs of prose. It can be tempting to try to cram in every bit of information that could give you the edge, but remember that a full side of tightly packed information can be daunting to the reader. White space and bulleted lists can help the reader and still get across the points that are important.