Home » Blog » Build Your Best CV By Avoiding These Common Mistakes

Updated : 02/20/2023

In today’s competitive job market, you need to present yourself in the most professional and competent manner possible in order to increase your chances of being hired. Employers are looking for the best of the best. They can afford to be picky when the competition is fierce. One of the most important ways to give yourself an edge is to write a compelling CV that gets noticed.

What you put on paper is your first impression to potential employers, so it’s important to make sure your CV doesn’t include any of the common errors that hiring agents see all too often. Whether you’re building a CV with little experience or with a wealth of prior job knowledge, avoiding these common mistakes is your first step to building the best CV possible and obtaining the career you desire.

Table of contents

1. Poor spelling and grammar

Typos, lack of punctuation, and poor grammar are the most obvious mistakes that will get you flagged as a job candidate who doesn’t pay attention to detail. These mistakes are also the things that will get your CV discarded immediately, thereby eliminating any chance of you scoring a job interview. However, so many people continue to send out CV with glaring errors. To avoid this mistake, have a friend or family member read over it. A fresh pair of eyes will be more likely to catch errors. You may also want to consider reading your CV out loud to be sure it flows smoothly and makes sense. Having a grammatically perfect CV is achievable.

2. Missing keywords

The best CV examples will always include a place to put key terms related to the job you’re applying for. Each CV you write should be tailored to the position for which you’re applying. One key aspect of this is to include keywords directly from the job posting into your CV. Recruiters will scan incoming CV quickly and are on the lookout for these words. Some companies even use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). If the keywords are missing, your CV will not move to the front of the line.

3. Unrelated objective statement

Along the lines of customising each CV for the desired job comes the idea of making sure your CV objective statement matches the job description for which you’re applying. When the first statement on your CV is unrelated to the advertised position, it raises red flags for hiring personnel. It is advised that the career objective relates to the industry and how accomplishing your career goals will be applicable to this job role.

4. Vague and general details

Recruiters may see thousands of CV in a year’s time. They likely see the same tired, generic phrases used over and over. Avoid overused terms and phrases, and instead, be specific in your wording. Choose an active language, rather than passive. Show the hiring manager what you’ve accomplished in past positions, utilising specific numbers or achievements to demonstrate your competence. Avoid being modest. Modesty and tired old phrases are sure to get you overlooked. Follow these tips in order to build your best CV possible. A strongly written CV is one of the best tools in your arsenal for getting the job you desire.

5. Including unrelated work experience and skills

Before you begin writing your CV, take a good look at the job description that you are applying to. As you are listing your work experience and skills, be sure they are specifically relevant to that job position. You want to not only highlight your career experience but you also want to be sure that your list of skills and achievements allow the hiring manager to see that you could be an asset to their organisation. Avoid listing past job positions that are not relevant and could take up too much space on your CV. You don’t want a hiring manager to glance at your CV and zoom in on any irrelevant information. You could be passed up from moving to the next phase of the hiring process.

6. An unprofessional email address

This should be obvious but hiring managers still come across a questionable email address every now and then. You see, the email address you thought was cute and clever may not come across as a candidate who takes the job search seriously. Instead, create a professional-looking email address that simply includes some variation of your full name. It’s even suggested that job applicants consider creating a separate email account to keep track of job applications and job search communications. A professional email address featured on your CV and application will ensure you are represented as a serious job candidate and not misunderstood by an immature email address.

7. CV should not be a too long or too short CV

While a one page CV has advantages, do not simply cram your work experience, skills and education onto one page. If you have a lot of impressive skills and work achievements, you may leave off something that could be what makes you stand out from other job candidates. However, you also don’t want to write a CV that is super long because you think you need to include every bit of career history, including information not relevant to the job you are applying to. If you are exceeding one page, feel free to continue onto a second page. Remember, it is advised that you only list experience from the past 10 to 15 years.

8. Using same CV for all job applications

Even though job descriptions in your industry may say similar things, an applicant should not submit the same CV. A generic CV will not make you stand out from the competition nor highlight your passion for the job. Instead, tailor your CV based on the specific job description. Feature your job skills to match those skills listed. This will also help you get noticed by the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and help further you to the next step in the application process. The extra effort you put into tailoring your CV will show hiring managers what you can offer their company.

9. Visually distracting

With so much competition for the role you are applying for, the hiring manager has limited time to read each CV from top to bottom. With one chance to make an impression, be sure that your CV is easy to read and as professional looking as possible.

Choose an easy to read, 10 or 12 point font like Calibri, Cambria, Times New Roman or Arial with 1.15 line spacing. Be sure the margins are even on all sides. Divide your CV into clear heading sections and bold each section heading. Your main goal of creating a CV format should be on readability for the hiring manager.

10. Featuring a photo of yourself

Unless you are applying to a job role where a photo is a necessity, it is frowned upon to include a photo on your CV. In fact, some hiring managers may even consider a photo unprofessional. Rather than a photo, use the extra space on your CV to include pertinent career experience or skills that can help get your CV noticed for the right reasons.

11. Outdated contact information

Can you imagine that your dream company wants to interview you for the role you applied for but your contact information is outdated or has a typo? Not only is that an unfortunate missed opportunity but it also makes you look not detail oriented. You can avoid that from happening by carefully proofreading your contact information – data that is often taken for granted as being correct. Make sure you’re listing your most recent phone number, email address and current place of residence.

12. Including salary requirements

There is never a reason for a job candidate to disclose a salary requirement on a CV. There will be opportunities to discuss salary as you make your way through the application process. The mere mention of a salary expectation on a CV could escalate your CV to the discard pile. The ideal time to discuss salary is during an interview only when the hiring manager directly asks you the question about compensation.

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