5 CV mistakes that make me sigh loudly & place my head firmly in my hands

cv mistakes


I’m sure a lot of you read the title of this blog, sighed out loud, placed your head firmly in your hands and said “Not another blog about CV tips”. But I’m sorry, I’m a recruiter, and this is something that I had to get out of the way now so I can focus on saving the world with my future masterpieces.

I worked out the other day I’ve been in recruitment for just over 8 years, so if we work on a basis of 48 weeks being worked each year at 5 days a week, that’s 1920 working days. The average Consultant probably looks at 150 CVs a day, if you do the maths you can estimate I’ve looked at approximately 300,000 CVs (albeit many of them being the same multiple times). So bearing this in mind I would like to think I have an insight into what I’m talking about, and if you need a job or want a new one maybe you should take note and stop being so cynical, but yes I know, I must have too much time on my hands.

I’m writing this article as it pains me deeply day in day out to see CVs for which such little care has been taken. And rather than the badly written terrible CVs, it’s the CVs with real potential but with the stupid mistakes that wind me up most.

So rather than writing a how-to guide on my preference of what you should do with your CV (and I have lots), I wanted to write a simple 5 step guide of common stupid mistakes to avoid in general, in the hope that these hold some relevance across the spectrum of people within my network, and may save me some future pain.

This is not the definitive guide of how to set your CV up, but I guarantee a lot of people could improve their CV by following each of these simple pointers. And if you can, you should be very ashamed!


It’s obvious but spellcheck your CV thoroughly. I’m amazed and frankly disgusted at the poor level of writing demonstrated by people for whom English is their first language, and regularly see better from people for whom it is not their first language.

The CV is the tool that is supposed to help you find a career, so surely you can spend time to have it thoroughly proof read to stop a single error sneaking through? (Quick tip: If a part has a red wiggly line under it in Word, that means that it could have an error in it or it’s bad grammar)

And talking of bad grammar, that’s a nono too. As is misuse of commas, and poor paragraph structure…none of these are excusable. If you can’t write, find somebody who can to help!

Most common misspelt word: LIAISE or LIAISING! It has two I’s!


Please don’t copy and paste out of the “CV Writers Handbook”. There is nothing worse than a generic profile that includes “I work well within a team and outside of a team” – bore off!

Write something creative, think outside the box, put some personality in your CV, yet keep it professional and relevant at the same time. Don’t be scared to do something a bit different, as long as it’s reflecting you.

That said if you are a generic, boring individual that likes to follow the herd, perhaps follow the “CV Writers Handbook” after all.


Please, please, please keep solid continuation for formatting such as fonts sizes, style, bullets and spacing throughout your CV. There is nothing worse than it looking like a jigsaw that’s been put together incorrectly. We all know Word can be a nightmare but persevere, as a scruffy layout and format can make people view you as a lazy and badly organised person.


I know I’ve already touched on it, but fonts in general are important. I know we all used it in the 80’s but Times New Roman is out of fashion; Calibri and Arial are good solid fonts. Easy to read, clean and help you fit a lot on each page.

If you’re on job seekers allowance and don’t actually want an interview, feel free to use Wingdings, Cooper Black or Goudy Stout.


Last but not least, when you write your CV, imagine you are the hiring manager for the type of job you’re applying for. Think logically about what they would want to read, if you were them what would make you want to employ somebody, and then write your CV from that perspective.

If you’re in sales talk about your successful sales record, if you do marketing talk through your creative campaigns relevant to the role, if you’re a Butcher talk about how you can carve a pig in 15 minutes flat. It’s not rocket science.

Well I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and please if you have anything to add or disagree with, I would love to hear your own tips in the comments section.

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Good Article Joby. Very helpful.
I am a job seeker seeking a career in Digital Marketing. What is your experience of required CV formats? Text file, word doc, word doc with text boxes, PDFs? I currently have a PDF CV. Is this format readible to keyword scanning software? Some articles say ‘yes’, some say ‘no’. I would love your input here incase my CV is not being picked up.

Joby Read

Hi James,

Thanks for your comment.

I would always recommend a nicely written CV, with no text boxes in an easily formattable word document.

The reasons for this are as follows:

• Not all recruiters have software that can read PDF’s
• All recruiters will need to reformat your CV a touch to get branding on and remove your contacts details before they submit your CV, so word without text boxes makes this easiest. Text boxes can make this very difficult!

If you really want to put a PDF CV together as you want to include a photo and graphics, make sure you produce a readable PDF without your contact details on, and perhaps get the recruiter you are using to send you their brand footer so they can add it on. This way we/they can use your CV to send to clients.

But the easiest way is as detailed at the top.

If you need anything else, feel free to give us a call on 01223 242423.


Joby Read
Principal Consultant

Robin Anderson

Thanks Joby for this good article, thanks for the sharing. Now I know how to write a good resume which will attract employers. I am sure that with your help I’ll found the job rather quickly.


Wonderful article!
I have been looking for some resume writing tips and found your article which providing a great insights into the common mistakes to avoid that we make while crafting resume. It will be very useful for all job candidates to go through. Thanks a lot for sharing!


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