7 Fatal CV Writing Mistakes

Few people are highly experienced in CV writing and most people will make mistakes at some point. Fatal errors can demolish what seems to be the most perfect match, between you and a job that you are applying for.

This next statement may surprise you a bit, but …

“Employers are really looking for ways to eliminate job applicants”

They don’t have the time or the inclination to interview everyone that applies – so they are looking for reasons to eliminate as many CVs as they can, as quickly as possible.

The more mistakes / errors you make on your CV the more likely you are to eliminated during the first CV sift.

In this article, we look at some of the most dangerous fatal mistakes / errors and show you how to avoid them.

1. Lack of Focus

Your CV usually has to impress an employer within 30 seconds of being picked up. If you are unable to demonstrate a clarity of intent and purpose within that time, it’s unlikely that an employer will bother trying to figure out your CV for themselves.

Every word must work to highlight your suitability for the role in question, from your career goals to your relevant experience. Your CV must stand out from all the other CVs by defining you as a highly suitable candidate.

Make sure your CV contains a ‘hit list’ of your most relevant experience areas, skills and attributes, plus the results you have achieved in each job role.

2. Gaps in Your Career History

Never leave unexplained gaps in your Career History. Many people take time out for a variety of reasons, including travel, education, family matters, unemployment or illness.

If there is a gap in your Career History, an employer is likely to wonder if you are trying to hide something. This may make them question your suitability or they may even just reject your CV outright.

You must therefore clearly account for any gaps in your career history.

3. Tasks Instead of Experience

If you include details of every task you’ve ever performed, or that’s listed on your job description, your CV’s Career History section will be very long and very dull indeed.

It’s also likely that any important information will be lost in the mass of irrelevant detail.

Instead, include just your most relevant experience, demonstrating the skills and talents relating to the jobs you want to apply for. An employer can then clearly see how you can benefit their organisation.

4. Writing a Life Story

Your CV is a marketing document, not a personal history. Nobody has time to read a 10-page CV, which lists everything you’ve ever done in your life.

Keep your CV short and sweet, preferably just a few pages. You must focus on relevant work experience – don’t include a lot of personal information; it’s rarely relevant and can often work against you.

5. Outdated Information

Your CV should only include the most relevant information that relates to the jobs you are applying for. Including outdated information that isn’t relevant will only make it harder for an employer.

So, being captain of the school football team would be relevant when you’d just left school. But, would be completely irrelevant 20 years later, when you are now managing a department.

Make sure you examine everything on your CV and delete anything that is no longer relevant.

6. Exaggerating or Boasting

It’s understandable that you want to sound confident and accomplished. However, there is a fine line between exaggerating and lying, so it’s important not to overstate your qualifications or experience.

Avoid increasing the figures or expanding your responsibilities as it could work against you. Even a slight transgression can destroy your credibility if noticed.

Always avoid confusing a confident tone with bragging. While you need to blow your own trumpet, you must aim to sound professional and emphatic rather than boastful. There is nothing more likely to make a prospective employer switch off – nobody likes arrogance.

7. Spelling and Grammar

It can’t be repeated often enough: make sure your CV doesn’t contain any spelling and grammar errors.

Leaving errors in your CV will make an employer think you are unprofessional and slipshod in your approach.

If you have any comments or questions about this article, or you’d like to share your views with other readers, please leave a comment below.

Kindest regards,

Paul Bradley.

Bradley CVs Ltd.

42 responses to “7 Fatal CV Writing Mistakes”

  1. I did my matriculation in 2003 and from 2004-2006 I did nothing no school, no work, no volunteering. The reason is that I wanted to do a B.Com. in accounting, but I never did maths at school. I wanted it so badly that I even had no chance to think about second choice. But from 2007/8 I join the South African Army for two years and after that I enrolled with the Central University of Technology for a National Diploma in Internal Auditing up until today

    Now my questions are: The 3 years that I stayed at home doing nothing, what impact will they have on me when applying for a job in the corporate world?

    Is there anything that I can do to make up for those 3 years now? Because I don’t want the employers to think I was in jail or something.

  2. Hi Jack,

    As you’ve been in the army and then completed a National Diploma since your 3 years off, there shouldn’t be too much impact on your chances of securing a job in the corporate world – you’ve certainly made up for the lost time (in my opinion).

    Good luck with your job hunting.

    Kind regards,

    Paul Bradley.

    Bradley CVs Ltd.