Common CV mistakes to avoid

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A CV, which can also be known as a Curriculum Vitae, or résumé, is a written overview of your skills, education, and work experience. It is an opportunity to show off your personal brand, and a company/employer will almost definitely ask for your CV when applying for a new job or opportunity. So, we have listed some common mistakes to avoid, to help you have the best CV possible.

Spelling mistakes and bad grammar – A lack of attention to detail could outweigh your otherwise perfect CV compared to the rest. So do NOT rely on spell-check, it sometimes does not always detect spelling errors, so it is useful to have a fresh pair of eyes to check over your CV before you submit it. Get a friend or family member to check it through, and then check it again!

CV layout – Unless you are applying for a design-based role, your CV should be as simple as possible. Try not to overcomplicate how much you put on there. Use a sophisticated font such as Arial, Times New Roman or Helvetica, and ensure the font size is a minimum of 12pt on a clean design. Remember, employers may have hundreds of CVs to read, so you do not want them having to search for the information, make sure it is presented right in front of them, with clear headings to divide up the sections. A good clear layout, consists of the following:

  • Name and contact details at the top of your CV
  • Personal summary,
  • Education history
  • Work experience (make sure you put the most recent work experience first!)
  • Skills and achievements
  • Hobbies and interests

You do not need to include references on your CV, however if you want to, you can mention that these are available on request at the bottom of your CV.

Make it uncomplicated - Ensure that is it unchallenging to read on a computer screen and is saved as a recognised file which can be opened as an email attachment. For example, as a PDF or a Word doc. You do not want to risk an employer not being able to view your CV! Often employers will use systems for CV’s, therefore if they are in the wrong format, it can skew the contents and make the CV unreadable.

Keep it concise - Your CV is not supposed to be a novel – if the employer is not convinced after one page; it’s likely they’ll not be persuaded in the next few. As a rule of thumb, keep your CV to a maximum of two pages. Often graduates assume they need to add every single achievement they have gained since leaving school but keep the information relevant to the job you are applying too. Remember, less is often more.

Leaving gaps – It is understandable that you may have unemployment gaps. These may be periods where you’ve learned or developed key transferable skills, travelled, or were unable to work for personal reasons. It’s beneficial to make a note of these on your CV and it’s more common than you may believe! If you leave it up to the employer to guess the situation, it could result in negative conclusions, as they could determine the worst possible scenario for the gaps in your CV.

Not including hobbies and interests – While it is important not to make your CV too wordy and overcomplicated, you don’t want to come across as uninteresting! Including a few of your hobbies and interests can highlight your personal side but also demonstrate some valuable transferrable skills. It can also give the employer an image of the type of person you are and what you are interested in outside of work, which is also something they can bring up in conversation in a potential interview.

Using an inappropriate email address – One thing that can massively put employers off is using a childish or inappropriate email address on your CV. Putting an unsuitable email as a point of contact can instantly extinguish your application, as it can portray an unprofessional image. Your contact information is usually at the top of your CV, so ensure you create or use an appropriate email address to avoid putting off employers. An example of an appropriate email address should include your name such as ‘’.

Don’t lie or exaggerate the truth – It will come across obviously in the interview stages! Whilst it may make your CV stand out slightly more, if you cannot back up the skills you put when questioned about them, it could be detrimental to your application. It is always beneficial to back up any skills you do put down with evidence in your CV to combat this. Remember, employers are humans and they don’t expect you to have it all, they want to see how you are developing your skillset and your willingness to learn.

Now does your CV look perfect? Head over to your graduate jobs profile and upload it there to start applying for your dream role!