Jobseekers: bag that job by avoiding these 5 CV mistakes

Recruiters will spend an average of just 7 seconds looking at your CV. To help you bag that dream job, here are 5 classic CV mistakes to avoid.

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The latest figures are in, and it’s official: the UK jobs market is thriving with an unprecedented number of vacancies. In fact, according to the Office for National Statistics, it’s the first time that vacancies have exceeded one million since records began.

But as many of us know, competition for the best gigs can be tough. It’s even tougher when you realise that recruiters spend an average of just seven seconds looking at your CV, according to job search site The Retail Appointment.

So, to help you bag that dream job, here are five classic CV mistakes you should avoid.

1. Including a photo on your CV

I’ll caveat this one as it can be culturally specific – as I found out from one of my previous side hustles as a professional CV writer. In some countries, adding a photo is expected. But in the UK specifically, including a photo on your CV should be avoided at all costs.

While it might feel more personable to include a photo, it can be problematic from an HR perspective. Potentially, it opens up a whole can of worms from a discrimination point of view.

Your CV isn’t a friend request, it’s there to objectively showcase your work experience and skills.  

2. Using an unprofessional email address

Staggeringly, The Retail Appointment points out that 76% of CVs are rejected because of an unprofessional email address.

So, if you haven’t changed yours from ‘[email protected]’, it’s a good idea to get yourself a sensible ‘firstname.lastname@’ address that could even become your dedicated job search account.


3. Typos and grammatical mistakes

You might not be applying to be an English teacher, but typos and obvious grammatical mistakes can leave your CV at the bottom of the pile.

Not only does it look unprofessional it’s also a red flag that suggests you simply don’t care enough. The golden rule is to check it, check it again, and then get a friend to give it a final once over.

My top tip: if you’re using Word, you can have your computer read back what you’ve written. This is a really easy and quick way of highlighting any real clangers. To do this, go to Review and then click on Read aloud. (You’re welcome.)

4. Bad formatting and an illegible font

Remember, recruiters will only give your CV seven seconds of their time. And while there are plenty of different formats to choose from, they should break up key information into clear sections:

  • Current job and responsibilities
  • Previous jobs and responsibilities
  • Skills and experience
  • Education

Employment dates should be next to each job role and anything over ten years can be collated under a generic ‘previous professional experience’ header.

As well as haphazard formatting, ‘quirky’ fonts should also be avoided. Yes, Comic Sans and French Script might look pretty, but for clarity, stick to office favourites such as Arial, Calibri and Verdana, or my personal favourite, Century Gothic.

5. Lying

As I often say to my children, lying never ends well. Recruiters will do their due diligence and check out your references. 

And while you might decide to embellish the truth a teeny tiny bit, inflating job titles and exaggerating your experience, is a step too far. Don’t forget that in a professional setting, inconsistencies are highly likely to get you caught out pretty quickly. 

It’s also worth knowing that if you apply for roles within the public sector, you may need to supply proof of qualifications. 


Stand out from the crowd

Alongside what to avoid, check out our top tips for finding your next job that will help you grab that opportunity. 

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

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