CV Mistakes You're Probably Making

Mastering a CV can be quite an enigma. A lot of employers have different ideas about what takes a ‘perfect cv’, but I think we can all agree there are a few blunders which are all too common, no matter what sector you’re recruiting in.

It’s really important that candidates understand what employers are typically looking for from a CV, so they can ensure theirs fits the bill.

So, here are a few of my favourite faux pas that definitely need addressing.


Like I said, different employers have different ideas about what’s important, and dependent on the role, employers will pay more attention to varying sections of a CV.

Firstly – and I know you probably hear this all the time – don’t make it too long. Stereotypically, people think employers are lazy, and become disinterested after the first paragraph. The truth is, we’re just human. If you don’t grab our attention in the first couple of paragraphs, we’re more inclined not to continue reading because, yes we get bored.

You need to put the important bits first. For example, if you’re 26 and you’ve been working for five years, your experience to date will be the most relevant piece of information. However, so many people within this demographic start with their education; this is great if you’ve achieved outstanding results, but in my opinion experience outweighs exam results, and knowing you had a B in Psychology at A Level isn’t relevant, or particularly impressive to me…

Your selling point is the success you’ve had in work, and how you’ve added value to each role. Personally, I prefer CV’s structured like;

Personal profile

This is where you add a little personality and sell yourself as an individual

Key achievements

This can include achievements at work. For example, say you work as a Marketing Executive – how much commercial growth have you personally achieved for the business through your marketing efforts? Did you accomplish a 30% growth in revenue in your second quarter? I want to hear about this stuff!

Workplace Experience

List the experience that is relevant to the role you’re applying for. Don’t list every job you’ve ever had, if it doesn’t legitimise your suitability.

It’s also important you don’t waffle here. I’m not really interested in how you got the job, I want to know the facts and figures. How have you added value? What tangible examples can you give me to illustrate this? How has the business changed for the better since you joined?


People always ask if degrees are important. I left school without any qualifications, but what I always say is completing a degree isn’t just about being intelligent, it illustrates dedication and determination, because you spent 3-5 years studying and working towards an end goal. That’s what’s impressive.

Having educational experience in a similar field you’re applying to also demonstrates your ability to understand and analyse the field.


This section is quite controversial. Some employers say it’s a waste of time, some think it’s significant. I think the latter. Similarly to your personal profile, you can show a little personality here. It’s also your chance to fit in things you didn’t manage to mention previously. Such as charity work or freelance projects.


Your employer will always ask for your employers reference details, so as a rule of thumb I’d never include them on your CV. These are only needed if you’ve passed the initial interview stages.


Candidates: here’s a tip for you. Employers want to feel special, they want to feel as though you REALLY want to work at his or her business. This is pretty common knowledge, which is why I’m consistently baffled by how many of you continue to send one size fits all CV’s.

The best CV’s are the ones that address the job description, and read like a checklist of congruence.

Writing a CV is one of the most difficult tasks to ace as a candidate, because you need to be really concise and persuasive at the same time. I’ve always been one to babble, so I understand how challenging it can be.

Every sentence you write should be answering, or leading to answering, a point in the job description you’ve been given.

Get a copy of the job description and highlight every key point it mentions. Once you have these, you can begin tailoring your CV to show you understand their significance, have relevant experience to execute each aspect and can give an example to prove that.

It will take a long time, but it’s worth it. I promise you that every employer can tell if you’ve just sent out a bunch of CV’s, and it’s very unlikely you’ll get an interview. On the other hand, if you take the time to do the above, unless your experience is completely irrelevant, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t get through to the next stage.

A lot of people come to me worried about the lack of humility in their CV, and I completely understand that. However, your CV is about getting a foot through the door. You’re selling your skills. It’s about saying ‘look I have all of this relevant knowledge and experience, you really need to meet me’. The job interview is where you bring your personality, and really start selling yourself.