Common CV errors

You may have spent hours crafting your CV but it only has around 30 seconds to make an impact. In that time it has to persuade recruiters that they should interview you for the role.

But too often job seekers undersell themselves on their CV or fail to highlight clearly enough what they’ve done. If you’re thinking of updating your CV or you’re about to apply for a role, read our guide to six common CV errors and how you can avoid them.

Attempting a ‘One Size Fits All’ CV

Employers who receive generic CVs generally discard them. Most recruiting managers look for tailored CVs explaining exactly why – in terms of achievements and accomplishments in previous roles – the person is appropriate for the role.

Action Point: As you’re writing your CV, have the job description to hand and look at what you’re writing with a critical eye. Every word should be designed to persuade someone recruiting for this particular role that they should interview you.

Typos, Spelling Mistakes and Grammatical Errors

Errors like this are avoidable and imply carelessness – and that’s not an impression you want to give a potential employer.

Action Point: Check your CV carefully before you send it. Make sure there aren’t any stray apostrophes (in plural words, such as ‘key performance indicator’s’, for example) and that words which can be spelled differently (such as draught and draft) are in the correct form. Spell check software can pick up some mistakes but it’s not foolproof. Ask a friend to check your spelling if it’s not one of your strengths.

Photographs, Colour Paper and Unusual Fonts

From time to time we see CVs that have photographs of the job seeker on them, are written in using coloured or unusual fonts or on coloured paper, or that have a quirky design. In our opinion, these will only make your CV stand out for the wrong reasons.

Action Point: Make sure that the words speak for themselves. Keep to a font that looks clean and to a design that isn’t cluttered.

Lack of Specifics 

When an employer looks at your CV, they need to know exactly what you have achieved in your previous roles and how this is relevant to the job you’re applying for. If, for example, you were responsible for implementing a new way of working, say exactly how you did it and spell out the results you achieved.

Action Point: Look at the career information you want to include in your CV. It should tell a prospective employer 1) what your role was, 2) what your responsibilities were, 3) what you achieved and 4) the benefit it delivered to your employer? If these points aren’t clear the first time you skim over your CV, rewrite them until they are.

Long Sentences and Elaborate Sentences

It’s much better to use bullet points to highlight your key achievements and skills. If you use excessively long words and elaborate sentences on your CV, you risk clouding the meaning and making it harder for the recruiting manager to work out what you’ve actually achieved.

Action Point: Check what you’ve written and see if you can rewrite the information so it’s shorter and snappier.

Incorrect Contact Information

There are few things more frustrating for a recruiter than to have a great CV in front of them and not be able to contact the person whose name is at the top of it.

Action Point: Make sure your email, phone number and address details are correct.

Know your worth, download the Robert Walters Salary Survey

For more career advice please contact:

Samantha Gravett, Manager
+27 (0) 11 881 2471

Career advice


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