15 Critical Mistakes You SHOULDN'T Make On Your CV

Written by: Laura Chetcuti
Published on: 1 Dec 2015

Sock Man CV

Everyone at some point has been in a position where they are looking for a job. It isn’t the most pleasurable of life’s activities, and it can be insanely taxing. It is simple to gauge why adverts get pelted with irrelevant applications on a daily basis. People grow desperate and wind up treating their job search like a numbers game. This is potentially the worst mistake you can make. It should be far more strategic than that. We’ve compiled a list of 15 critical mistakes you should avoid when writing your CV. CV writing shouldn’t be too difficult, but at least these tips will help steer you on the right path.  


  1. Don’t Apply For  A Position You’re Underqualified For

This one is a no-brainer. It makes no sense to apply for a role which is entirely irrelevant to your skillset. It is a waste of your time and it will only escalate the number of rejection emails you receive in your inbox each week.

If you’re a chef with 10 years’ experience of cooking Nepalese starters, you aren’t going to have a chance in hell of landing a Head of UX role at a leading software organisation in the city. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out and NO you can’t be one of those either!  


  1. Don’t Apply For A Position You’re Overqualified For

If you are at Marketing Director level and you’re applying for a Marketing Assistant role which pays £15,000 in annual salary, this is going to raise a few eyebrows among prospective employers. Not only will it damage your credibility and undermine your entire career history, but employers will think you are totally incompetent. Of course, you hear stories of professionals reaching the end of their careers, with so much money that they are happy to take a cut and work for the pleasure. Leave the entry level roles for the people that need it!  


  1. Don’t Ignore The Important Information

You could argue that there is no right or wrong way to write a CV… but really there is. Your CV is a chance to sell yourself and land an interview. You might have the most extraordinary personality that every employer would love to employ, but if they see no value in your CV you won’t even get to the meeting stage. We recommend using the STAR technique:

  • Situation – what was the challenge?
  • Task – what did you look to achieve?
  • Action – how did you do it?
  • Results – what was the outcome?

Employers want to see where you have excelled and detailing key achievements within your job roles is what’s going to set you apart from your peers. Even if the results of your STAR weren’t amazing, the fact that you are able to demonstrate the logic and ability pick a problem apart is golden.


  1. Don’t Include Fluffy Achievements

No one cares that you campaigned for gluten free bread in the café or that you took it upon yourself to enforce National Chocolate day upon the entire office, pressing every one of your colleagues to contribute at least one family sized bar of their favourite chocolate snack to the offering. NO ONE CARES.


  1. Don’t Leave Unexplained Employment Gaps In Your CV

Employers want to appoint staff that they know will commit to the business and not resign after 2 hours of service. Circumstance can certainly dictate that you take some time out of work, but don’t just leave those gaps unexplained on your CV. All you need to do is include a concise, simple and honest explanation. If it’s incredibly personal, just simply type ‘personal circumstances’.  


  1. Don’t Start Your CV With A Physical Description

This is not your Tinder profile. It’s your CV. Listing an overly flattering physical description of yourself is just weird. Similarly, in the UK job-seeker market it is best not to attach a photo of yourself to your CV. A popular and more widely accepted job-seeking option in other parts of the world, it is not so widely accepted in the UK. Play safe. Leave it off.


  1.  Don’t Go Crazy On The Hobby Section

We all have our hobbies, quirks and passions but if you have a penchant for sock-sucking it is probably best that you don’t mention that. Yes, you may have turned soaking socks in saliva into some kind of sick sport, but your potential employer will think you have serious issues. By all means include things that are unique and distinctive, but be mindful of the socially unacceptable and keep the list concise.


  1. Don’t Include Irrelevant Private Information

Diversity in the workplace and equal opportunities is a huge topic on the UK employment scene. In all seriousness, you don’t need to justify your sexuality on your CV. It is irrelevant to your application. You don’t need to validate your gender either. Similarly, if you’re strongly religious that is fantastic but an employer isn’t looking for this kind of private information on your CV.


  1. Don’t Include Bad Grammar

This is exceedingly cringe-worthy and disconcerting for any professional. Bad spelling has been a turn off for employers since CV’s were invented. There are so many spell checkers you can use to ensure you don’t fall victim to needless mistakes. Everyone makes typos and we all have days where we compose wonderfully careless grammatical errors in our written work. Fine. Have those days. Your CV is different. Proofread your CV until your eyeballs start burning your lids if you have to!


  1.  Don’t Use Colourful Text And Wacky Fonts

You are an alleged expert. A CV is a professional document that could be standing between you and a £10,000 rise! A CV with questionable font usage is unacceptable. It looks like something that 11-year old’s were creating in Microsoft Word on the 2001 IT curriculum. There are slight exceptions to this rule. Graphic Designers and creatives can afford to push the boundaries with their CVs. They have to sell an entirely different concept. Leave the colours and the bubble fonts to them. Times New Roman may feel stale and humdrum, but at least it’s harmless for your CV.


  1. Insane Objectives

What would you think if you picked up a candidate’s CV and the first line was ‘it has been my goal, my vocation, my dream, to drive the global supremacy of the sanitation industry since I was 7 years old’?

 You would think that person had a multitude of unresolved social disputes and potentially lived in a cupboard under the sink. Not good. If you insist on detailing your career objectives, they must be realistic. Unfortunately, we are not living in a fantasy world (as much as we’d all love to attend a Quidditch World Cup) and your goals should be sincere.


  1. Don’t Include Pointless Job Roles

The paper round you undertook when you were 12 doesn’t count. Need I elaborate?


  1. Don’t Include Inappropriate Extracurricular Activities

It isn’t going to look ideal to a future employer if you incorporate the fact that you were President & Events Director of the Jägerbomb Society during your university years. Leave that stuff behind. You’re an adult now and your name isn’t Van Wilder. It’s great for growing your campus popularity, but it isn’t so great at landing you a job (unless you’re looking for a role with Jägermeister…).


  1. Don’t Cite Your Mother As A Reference

Your mother is obviously going to give you a glowing reference; she probably worshipped every last nappy you destroyed since the day you were born and beyond! A reference should always be a professional contact, preferably a previous employer. If you aren’t listing any employer references, the person viewing your CV is going to wonder why. It doesn’t look good. It looks dodgy.


  1. Don’t Write Your CV Like A Story

Your CV isn’t the story of your life. It is a methodical summary of your career history, achievements and skills. You should never use creative prose when writing your CV. If you’re going for a creative writing job, do whatever you want if you think it will land you the job. But generally your CV should have a logical layout, it should be clear and it shouldn’t include adjectives.


Now that you've brushed up on your CV nightmares, we suppose you'd be interested in searching for some jobs to apply for? Well you're in the right place if you're looking for a Marketing job. Get searching!