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. Took me time to read the whole article, the article is great and the comments bring on more brainstorming ideas, thanks.

    – Johnson

  2. I’m always inspired by you, your views and attitude. I appreciate this nice post.

    – Thomas

  3. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the great advice, sounds very professional and impressive!

    How do you mention in your CV that you had to leave your previous job due to problems with the chef?


  4. Hi Sophie,

    You no longer need to mention the reason for leaving each job on your CV, so you don’t need to mention your problems with the chef.

    Kindest regards,

    Paul Bradley.
    Bradley CVs Ltd.

  5. Hi, I am trying to find things to improve my blog! Is it OK if I use some of the things I saw here?

  6. Hi Yuette,

    No, you can’t copy our blog – everything in our blog is the copyright of Bradley CVs Ltd.

    You are welcome to put in a link from your blog to the articles that you like on our blog.


    Paul Bradley.

    Bradley CVs Ltd.

  7. Hi,

    I am helping a number of employees write their CVs. Someone had a gap in their career, because their immigration status changed (from a student visa to becoming a UK national) and there was a gap between it. What’s the best way of putting that down on a CV.

  8. Hi Terence,

    It’s impossible to provide specific advice, as I don’t know all the circumstances surrounding this employee.

    We always take a full brief before writing a client’s CV and then decide how to handle any specific problems / obstacles they face.

    I’ve therefore restricted my comments to general advice that is relevant to any type of career gap (such as a change in immigration status).

    When handling a career gap, you first need to decide whether you actually need to explain the gap or not. If it’s just a short gap, you may not even need to mention it.

    You should weigh up a number of factors, such as: Was it a long or short gap? Was it a long time ago? Will leaving a gap make an employer suspicious?

    If you do decide to explain a gap, you need to explain it in as positive manner as possible.

    Kindest regards,

    Paul Bradley.
    Bradley CVs Ltd.