The 4 most common mistakes people make with their CV

Written by Laura Harmsworth

Caversham CV Writing

Image by Nina Garman from Pixabay

Inside the BACVW LinkedIn group a couple of weeks ago we were discussing the most common mistakes people make with their CVs.  Between us, we must have seen and written thousands of CVs and as a job seeker, this blog will help you discover the most common mistakes and how to rectify them.

Your CV reads like a job description

Does your CV list only your duties/responsibilities?

To prove you have the skills and abilities a recruiter is looking for and that you can deliver results for the company, you should focus more on your achievements. Can you solve their problems, impact the bottom line, increase efficiency, decrease costs, improve customer service?

💡 If you struggle to think of achievements, think about

  • positive feedback received
  • awards
  • targets achieved
  • things you have implemented/actioned that have saved the company money/time/resources or that have increased profits/customers/sales/enquiries.
  • how you have overcome a challenge.

💡 Ensure you back your achievement up with evidence.  Quantify with numbers if you can e.g., percentages.  If your achievements aren’t measurable, consider things such as the number in your team, number recruited, how you developed a client relationship, contracts renewed, specific projects, how often you do a task, time saved, a discount negotiated, presentation to an audience of xx, fines avoided, keeping up to date records, meeting audit requirements.

You send the same CV for each application

It’s so easy (and common, you’re not alone!) to think that once you’ve written your CV you can fire it off to multiple places.  This is probably one of the biggest mistakes made by job seekers.

💡 It’s worth investing time in each application tailoring it to the job advert.  Everything on your CV should be targeted to the information in the advert, job description and person specification.  Highlighting keywords and skills are key.

If you have a skill or achievement that you’re proud of but isn’t relevant to the role applying to, leave it out. 

💡 Have a document with all your achievements and a document with all your skills, then pick and choose the ones relevant to each application.  This means you’ll have one master CV, then a different CV for each application.

Your CV is crammed with detail

Your CV won’t be read if it has too much detail on it – your job is to make it easy for a recruiter or hiring manager to see how you will fulfil the role – they don’t want to be searching through reams of text to find what they’re looking for, to see if you’re a suitable candidate.

If they can’t find the information quickly there’s an extremely high chance your CV will be cast aside to the reject pile.

Your CV is a snapshot of your career – you don’t need to include all the detail.

💡 Keep it relevant to the role you’re applying to, keep it succinct, save the detail for the interview.

💡 Certain details are not required on your CV e.g., date of birth, marital status.

💡 If you have a wealth of experience, you usually won’t need to include older qualifications e.g., O-levels, unless specifically asked for in the job advert.


Your CV should be easy for the recruiter to read as well as being ATS compliant (Applicant Tracking System is a computer programme that quickly scans through CVs to identify potential candidates). ATS isn’t perfect and certain things can make your CV unreadable.

💡 For ATS, don’t use tables, unusual fonts, graphics and submit your CV in .docx rather than PDF

💡 For the human eye, break up large blocks of hard-to-read text and use concise bullet points.  Ensure there is white space on your CV, but not too much.

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Laura Harmsworth

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