6 February 2020
Top 10 CV fails to avoid at all costs

We’ve all been there – rushing to send out 15 CVs in one day, desperate to get out of our current situation whether that is our job that we hate or the endless unemployment drag. It is so easy to send out a generic CV to one and all, but you are decreasing your chances by doing so. Sending out a stock CV without proper attention to layout, spelling or a level of detail that’s tailored to the job in question can cost you that precious first interview in one swift click of a delete key. Unfortunately though any recruiter like us will tell you how many potentially good candidates fall at the first job hunting hurdle by making silly but fatal mistakes on their CV.

Here we have the top 10 CV fails that we see time and time again. By being aware of them will hopefully help you to avoid them!


1. Poor spelling and grammar

This is so obvious yet it happens so frequently. We beg you – please check through your CV. It’s always a good idea to write something and leave it for a while as you complete another task. When you come back to it, you will be able to spot the silly typos that you have made. We all have spell check, but grammar can be more difficult. If you use Google Chrome, you can download their app called ‘Grammarly’. This will identify all spelling and grammar mistakes when writing, even when posting onto Facebook! Another great tip is getting your friends and family to read it. Another pair of eyes will benefit the finished product.

2. Use of jargon, clichés and cringeworthy quotes

Just be cool. Avoid the standard ‘Team Player’ and ‘Enthusiastic and ambitious person you will ever meet’ jargon. Stop it. You definitely can’t include ‘Excellent communication skills’ if you don’t follow our previous point on spelling and grammar. Make it relevant to the position your applying for; leave out details like your religion, political preferences, height, weight and the story about the time you met David Beckham.

3. A CV more than two pages in length

Show off your communication skills by slimming down your CV. A two-page CV is standard for experienced professionals. If yours goes over this, it looks as if you can’t distinguish important information, or that you’re desperate to include everything in an attempt to look more experienced as well as losing the interest of the reader. Keep in mind the number of CVs a recruiter or employer sees during the job application process. Be short and snappy and focus on your accomplishments in each role.

4. Mysterious gaps in employment

Employers need to understand what you’ve done and accomplished. By leaving gaps in your CV to avoid mentioning the part-time job you took at Pizza Hut will leave the recruiter / employer with questions as to why you had a gap. Explain your career journey and the jobs you have had or if you have spent time out travelling. Never assume an employer will know your life history and gaps in information might be viewed with suspicion.

5. Inclusion of clip art or emojis

We all love to include emoji’s. They have become an integral part of our communication process especially the cheeky monkey and the pile of poo, but there is a time and a place and it’s definitely not your CV!

6. Unprofessional email address

As discussed in our previous blog ‘The most common recruitment blog post ever’, you need to have a professional email address and not the one you set up at school, for example, It is so quick and easy to set a new email address on Google so if you don’t have one already, then do it now.

7. Snazzy font and borders

Who remembers the font Comic Sans? Oh it brings back memories of our youth. This is a perfect example of the type of font to NOT use. We are not saying to use Times New Roman, but be sure that your font and layout suits the job you are applying for. A CV which uses inconsistent fonts, a mix of headings and sizes or paragraphs and bullet points that do not align will look confusing and messy. Decide on the font and format you want to use and stick to it throughout the document.Use of casual tone –

8. Use of casual tone

“Responsible for” and “duties included” are passion-killers in a CV. In your cover letter, phrases like “I wish to apply for…” are just as dull. Use interesting, accurate and powerful verbs to whet an employer’s appetite. Spice up your CV with verbs at the beginning of sentences. “Transformed club meetings to double attendance.” Write as if you are excited about the prospect of the new role – an excited professional non the less.Lying and over exaggerating the truth –

9. Lying and over exaggerating the truth

It is so obvious when people are lying and the truth will be found out as soon as references are taken. If you manage to blag your way to an interview, just think how silly you will look when you sit there saying ‘ummm’. Be confident and state the facts of your achievements, but do not lie and say you are an expert in something that you are not. It will only come round and hit you in the face if you do.And finally, one size does not fit all –

10. And finally, one size does not fit all

It’s easy to think that you should produce a definitive version of your CV and that it will be suitable for every job you’re chasing. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that. Every job description will be unique and you need to tailor your CV accordingly – employers want to understand how you might fit into their organisation and your CV should take away any element of guesswork.

Just to bring us to an end, if one of the following phrases are visible on your CV right this minute, remove it and reinvent it now:

  1. Can work independently
  2. Hard worker
  3. Works well under pressure
  4. Good communicator
  5. Enthusiastic
  6. Team player
  7. Good listener
  8. Excellent written communication skills
  9. Proactive
  10. Problem solver

We don’t know about you, but how cringy are they? And we bet they can be found somewhere on your CV.

RedBox Recruitment specialises in permanent recruitment for engineering, manufacturing, office support, accounting & finance, sales, marketing and we hope that the last couple of blogs has inspired you to write an awesome mind-blowing CV and to avoid all the naughty blunders along the way. Now you have sent your dazzling CV off- what next? Check out our next blog in the series to find out more.

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