The 8 worst CV mistakes you can make

Worst CV mistakes

We look at countless CVs each week. Within these hundreds of applications, some massively stand out.

Unfortunately this is because of mistakes in the CV! So what are the worst CV mistakes we have seen and how can you avoid them?


Make sure you have actually submitted your CV

Perhaps most crucial of all, make sure the file you have submitted to the application is actually a CV!

Between us at Alex Young Recruitment, we probably receive one application a week where rather than a CV, we open the file to find something else.

So, don’t be that person who sends a blank Word document, a bus time table or a local restaurant menu, instead of your CV! And yes these genuinely are documents that have mistakenly been sent to us!

Poor spelling mistakes on your CV

In the age of autocorrections and spell-check, there really isn’t any excuse to make spelling mistakes on your CV. Incorrect spelling can seriously damage your chances of landing that dream job.

A recent study found, that two thirds of job applications included at least one spelling error. It makes you look unprofessional and may suggest that you’re not taking the process seriously.

Always review the document with a spell check on the computer and get a fresh pair of eyes on your CV. Even spell check won’t pick up if you’ve written “world” instead of “word”.

Not including the dates of employment on your CV

A small one, but it always helps to date each of your periods of employment. Include your start and finish dates, referencing each position in a clear chronological list. If you have worked on a temporary or contract basis, you could also add a note on the side, to make the employer aware of this.

Your CV is out of date

Make sure the CV you are sending is current, and not one from when you have previously been applying to roles a few years ago.

You might have changed company, gained new qualifications or been promoted, but if your CV isn’t up to date you might get ignored, with other applicants taking favour.

Unexplained gaps between jobs

If you were out of work for a sustained period, always be explicit and explain why this occurred.

If you you struggled to find a job, be honest. You’re not the only person who has had periods of unemployment due to an economic downturn.

And if you have been travelling for six months or taken a study period this is still valuable experience to include on your CV.

Poor layout and formatting

Worst CV mistakes It does not matter what document you are reading, if it is difficult to follow, you get instantly turned off and stop reading. It is no different with CVs.

Use a standard, easy to read format. Stick to a simple font in black and include clearly marked sub-headings, so that the different sections do not get jumbled.

Regarding colours, we advise to just stick to black. But do take time to look at different style guides, as some industries like graphic design and marketing can appreciate a more ‘jazzy’ style. Be clear on what your prospective industry are looking for.

Unclear job descriptions

Always include a description of what you did in a position. Try to use a bullet pointed list referencing each aspect of the role. A large block of text can be overwhelming, so an employer may skip a crucial detail concerning your experience.

Don’t make it too long, but make sure you have covered everything that an employer might be looking for from the job specification.

Lying on your CV

You may believe it pays off to exaggerate and embellish the truth on your CV, because who is really going to check everything. But don’t do this!

Research shows that large proportions of applicants lie on their CV, whether it be, making up a job, exaggerating a degree result or fabricating a qualification entirely!

Generally, an employer will not have asked for a certain level of qualification lightly. It will be required to do the job properly.

If you can’t do what you have said or cannot provide evidence of a qualification, it can create a sour tone. In the most extreme examples, it can result in jail.

So always tell the truth!

Now you’ve tidied up your CV you should have no issue getting noticed, which then means you can look forward to the interview process, which you can find out more about here.

If you would like any advice on any aspect of your job search then please get in touch.