10 Common Mistakes To Avoid On Your Job CV

Polish and fix up your job resume

Mistakes can happen in life, and they can creep into CVs or job resumes too. It can be a simple thing to make mistakes. But it can be embarrassing to be told that a mistake has cropped up in your CV or Resume - by a prospective Employer, as you must then explain to them, and after, repair the damage. Most issues come up either during or after the interview has happened. It is when a business is interested in hiring you for the job, but they need to verify your work history and qualifications. That is when mistakes appear in the apparently shining resume that you spent ages perfecting. Below are listed the best power words to include in your resume... but first, what are the most common mistakes in a CV?

10 common mistakes to avoid on your work CV
10 common mistakes to avoid on your work CV | Source

10 Mistakes to Avoid on Your Resume

1. Poor spelling and grammar – don’t always trust the spellchecker in the pc. We get wrapped up so much in writing up a CV, we sometimes miss the errors, because we are so close to the problem, and that can trip us up. Get someone to read right through the CV to make sure spelling is okay. They will spot if anything is amiss. Ask a college friend. Get the spelling and the grammar right. And check your cover letter too.

2. You wrote a lot, but a lot of drivel – did you waffle on about trivia or minor things? Writing lots, but saying little? A future boss is constantly looking for the relevance to your skills and abilities. He is always asking himself "how can this candidate fit into my company, and what can he or she do?"

Your future employer does not want you to explain every single thing you ever did in your life. Simply focus on the most important details, the key elements that can show your talents, and make you the most relevant candidate. Give just the facts, and make those facts aim like arrows towards that target - your future job. Don’t waffle.

3. You didn’t tailor your CV – every employer is searching for a CV (and cover letter) that applies to their respective position, and all positions are different. You should make small adaptations so that your CV will match their specific requirements. Resist that temptation to lie in your CV. There is nothing wrong with re-purposing your CV or resume to fit the specific work you are applying for. Simply make those most relevant skills to that position the most important skill set on your CV so they appear first.

4. You highlighted duties instead of achievements – okay, you are allowed to mention duties if you want – but not at the expense of your achievements. Too many candidates just copy and paste their responsibilities from what are probably those old job descriptions. Instead, try to find ways to show what you actually achieved while you were in those posts.

5. You broke the 2-page rule – in fact 2 pages of A4 for your CV is enough room to sell yourself and persuade your potential employer that you are worth bringing in for an interview. No more than 2 pages. Sometimes less can be more. Admittedly, some employers now see it as being not that big a deal if your CV is three pages. But some companies are old fashioned. And some companies have many resumes to read through. Make it your mission to shorten and abbreviate your curriculum vitae to 2 pages.

6. You left out information – not a good thing. There should not be any unexplainable career gaps or omissions in your work history. No work history should have holes in it. That’s like a Big Red Flag to a bull. Every interviewer or HR Boss is trained to look for gaps in your employment anyway. Every interviewer will ask that embarrassing question, and don't lend hostage to fortune by risking this. You are applying for a real job position. Don’t leave it to a prospective boss to guess at what you have been up to, as they will always assume the worst.

This is a common issue in CVs. Be truthful. If your history has holes, be able to explain them, and the "Why" question. Medical reasons, accidents, personal or unusual circumstances.

A good friend of mine applied for a job in the spring of 2014, with a gaping gap in her history. It turned out she had a breakdown and didn't know how to tell this in an interview. In the end she just risked it all, and told them, and prepared for the worst. They hired her. She had the qualifications, and the boss said he liked admired her honesty and integrity. It was not easy for her, and she really did not want to ruin her chance of getting the job.

7. You used a (cheesy) cliché – yes, it can happen to the best of us. So avoid using terms and phrases like “Good Communicator” or “I worked in a team”. Hands up, how many of you people have that written in your CV? How many stale and over-used words are lurking on that resume? Quite a few perhaps. Avoid cheesy words and instead have a look at my chart for 100 excellent resume words below. Go and fix that little issue right now. Take action.

8. You were somehow “vague” – you may not have explained or elaborated on something clearly enough, or you did not give enough specific information. Give enough details and information that focuses on their company’s needs as well as your own. Put yourself in their shoes. You did something during some period and it could make all the difference - but you just didn't think it was important enough to elaborate on! DON'T UNDERSELL YOURSELF. It could be the difference between getting the position or not getting it. They simply need to know the facts. Don't be vague!

9. Your CV was poorly designed or thought out – your content did not get priority because it was not done correctly? Are your talents being shown and appropriately portrayed? The rule of designing and laying out your CV is this – “layout is important, but of secondary importance when compared to content in a CV”. So unless it’s an artistic vacancy, or design job specifically, keep it simple and worry about content. You don't want to end up with a resume that looks amazing but with almost no meaningful content. A resume is an opportunity to sell yourself! So make that content mean something.

Note that some HR bosses are looking at CVs and resumes on their Mobile devices now, and so it should read well even on an iPhone or tablet PC. That's the way the world has gone!

Incredible example - a friend of mine applied for a job in a broadcasting radio station as a presenter, and on my advice, she included a link on her resume to a Soundcloud account where she had a recording of her voice doing a reading. It sounded awesome (especially on a PC and iPad) and her interviewers offered her the job on the spot, but no one else had thought of that. Her content stood out from the crowd.

10. Your personal details were incorrect – oh dear. Not getting any emails, or phone calls, or letters? Or ANYTHING? Maybe the reply to the job went to someone else! Keep your address details in a permanent place. Update your address if you are moving location, which CAN happen. Mobile phones are a particular detail that can change. So can email addresses. Was your email address an old “work” address? Fix it.

Oh and one more thing. Don't mention you have a Facebook page unless you want them to trawl through it. Technically your Facebook account is not job related and should be out of bounds, in other words private. LinkedIn however is perfect for putting your resume online, or put it on a blog, like WordPress or Weebly.

Resume Sample

100 Excellent Resume Words

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Note on Electronic Job Submissions - PDF

Employers now use word search software on resumes when submitted electronically. This was becoming common back when I worked in Recruitment, a few years ago. The tools for this today are 100 times more powerful. That software won't just search for words like “assisted” or "managed" or "supervised". They want actual real skills, certifications, degrees, job titles, names of processes, names of software and hardware or related applications, company names, names of professional or trade organizations, names of services, even products or names of schools. So do add and include them.

Learn how to create a PDF version of your resume, which will not have incorrect page breaks, font size issues, missing fonts or substitutions or messy margins. The software suite OpenOffice which is a free downloadable software package enables you to create a full PDF document and make a resume into portable Document Format, which can be read on just about any PC or computer. The more you have going for you, the better, and so the better your chances at winning the job. Take the time to learn how electronic job submissions work and give yourself the upper hand. (There are several other applications, some cost nothing - that can allow you to make a PDF document. Check out CutePDF Editor.)

Everything is "Search"-able

Most company databases and applicant tracking systems now accept and allow the eponymous .pdf files. However, if your resume format is rejected, try sending it as a “.doc” text file with very basic formatting. Avoid the tendency to over-format the document and do not imbed graphics or pictures in a resume that you upload into an employer’s electronic system. (Anti virus software does not like it and your resume will never be delivered.) Do make a point of including the keywords I referred to earlier (including that title to the position you are applying for) in your resume, and that way the system’s search can “find” you.

Act serious - be taken seriously

In the big busy world of bosses and employers who are looking out for talented workers to join their numbers, they engage in a thing called “joined up thinking”. It’s the art of seeing how all things flow together. Your CV should have a flow to it, and make sense to them. It should move in an orderly fashion in a general direction, to hopefully a place you all want.

The person in your job resume should be the same person that is sitting in front of the job interviewer. Avoid the most likely mistakes in your CV such as the ones mentioned here - and get closer to signing that contract and finally getting that paycheck that you have been after. If you read this hub and took pointers, then you are now thinking like a winner. That's what companies want. Good luck.

Copyright (c) 2010 to 2014 Cassy Mantis. All rights reserved. Updated August 2014.

Also check out my other hub on a 7 point plan of action for a career.

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Comments 30 comments

Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

You are so right about all of this, I am so happy I'm retired now, this world of business is now getting to complicated. I always used the same resume and just address the cover letter to the client. I am really known for my typo's, I just can see my mistakes dah....thanks for a awesome hub I enjoyed reading it.


Sa Toya profile image

Sa Toya 6 years ago from England

This is soo good. I have been guilty of a few of these before. More than 2 pages and the vagueness and cheese. It's hard when first making a CV like in my late teens.

I chucked in every cheesy phrase I knew..for comfort and I thought that's what was needed. I hope more people read this :D


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 6 years ago from UK and Nerujenia Author

Hy Darlene Sabella: Yes you are so right, back in the day (before my time alas) things were better and simpler. The world was more innocent and Ronald Reagan ruled the.. oh never mind that crap. But it used to be fun to apply for a job, everybody knew everybody...almost...and ya threw in your cv, warts and all, and ya got the damn job. And look at the world now. Like the little guy in the movie The Shawshank Redemption said " Everyone went and got in a big damn hurry..." : )

Seriously, Darlene - the game has changed now and it's more competitive than before. Jobwise - it's what makes you stand out and what gives you the edge now that the bosses look for. It's way harder. So that's why I wrote these Hubs, to help people improve their chances. Glad to have your opinions here. Being retired, you are to be envied, its all behind you! Thanks for calling by, Darlene. Cheers!


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 6 years ago from UK and Nerujenia Author

Hy Sa Toya: Oh we have all been guilty of those niggling or annoying little things. But we can fix them, doctor them up, and go easy on the uh...cheesey! : ) We can figure it out, all people need is a helping hand and a bit of free advice here and there. There's bonus points for being honest, and you are certainly that, my friend. We all want to things in our CV or Resume that we think is needed. (In the old days, ya stuck in a $20 bill! Heh!) I'm kidding. As for late teens, you don't look a day over 21! You're welcome to check out my hubs and leave a note, comment or whatever. And I will visit you often. Promise! Thanks Sa Toya.


yenajeon profile image

yenajeon 6 years ago from California

Cheeky Girl: This was a great hub. My goal for this next week was to fix up my resume! Thanks for all the super important suggestions I really need to pay attention to the 'dont just list the tasks i did' one!


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 6 years ago from UK and Nerujenia Author

Hy yenajeon: nice to get your comments! Thankyou! Yes, do list your achievements as well! They are important. They say so much more about you than the tasks you did. You want that interviewer or reviewer to say "You're hired!" (Again even!) Best of luck with your Resume! Cheers!


Yes but... 6 years ago

While this all may be true (thanks to the people who aren't smart enough to major in economics or finance and instead chose a lame get-out-of-jail free card like HR)...poor grammar does not equal bad business decisions, nor does not-so-well-written marketing spiel (read: resume ) mean not a good investment for an employer. Unfortunately when hiring is simplified and effectively out-sourced to people who are not truly involved in the business (the HR guys), businesses miss out on some stunning candidates who would make big profits for them (of course we don't want THEIR profits -- they had typos!!!!).


blaise25 profile image

blaise25 6 years ago from close to you...

brilliant advice Cheeky Girl ;)


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 6 years ago from UK and Nerujenia Author

Hello, Yes but... says: I guess there will always be people who need an honest to goodness help with finding jobs, coupled with what they need to do to achieve that, and so every bit of advice the world offers is to be welcomed. I try to do this is my own way through HubPages. Nothing in life is simple any more, so some of us always try to think of ways to get around the problems or obstacles. And we try our best. And I focus on that. Thanks for commenting and visit often, ok.

Hy blaise25: Wow, I got your message on my Blog a few days back, many thanks for that. Hope you don't mind if I added a link there to your Blog "Wrong sent" as it looks great.

As for this, thanks for the comment. They sure are getting popular. Always glad to be of service! I hope you are keeping well and doing ok. Cheers, moi friend! : )


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

I agree to all your advices here Cheeky, number one is a BIG NO NO, Thank you and Happy V Day, Maita


blaise25 profile image

blaise25 6 years ago from close to you...

I dont mind! Im thankful for the link :) cheers!


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 6 years ago from UK and Nerujenia Author

Hy Maita: Thanks for the comment, mon ami. Yes, number one is kind of "Ooops!" territory. I know it happens. Good word processors can help eliminate that. Lotus Word Pro, MS Word, OpenOffice 3+, and more besides. Thanks, Maita. I had a lovely V Day! I hope you did too, moi friend! Lotsa hugs to you! : )

Hy Blaise: Thankyou so much! You're a star! It's people like you that make Hub Pages so great. You make a difference! ; )


pinkhawk profile image

pinkhawk 6 years ago from Pearl of the Orient

...now I figure out my mistakes,^.^...need to revise my CV...very helpful, thank you very much! :)


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 6 years ago from UK and Nerujenia Author

Hello pinkhawk: I am glad to be of service. I am glad I wrote these Job-finding hubs! Feel free to check out the others if you have the need! Best of luck if you are in the market for a new or better job! Cheers!


Manna in the wild profile image

Manna in the wild 6 years ago from Australia

Well done. You have some good points there. Mind it's hard to stay on two pages for an executive CV with 25 years experience and not leave any gaps!


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 6 years ago from UK and Nerujenia Author

Hy Manna in the wild: Thanks for the comments. I agree that 2 pages is tough, but the people who look at CVs and resumes prefer it that way. It forces people to out their best traits and information and achievements on it, and choose the highlights. Its just the way it works! Cheers!


ultimatepotential profile image

ultimatepotential 6 years ago from India

I am glad you mentioned a lot of points I was unaware of. I envy your experience in this.


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 6 years ago from UK and Nerujenia Author

Aah - hello ultimatepotential: you are discovering my Job hunting, CV improving hubs here! Heh! I truly hope they help you in some way. They are tried and trusted ways of avoiding common mistakes on a CV. Always glad to help a fellow Hubber. Cheers!


andygrant profile image

andygrant 6 years ago

Really useful information for job seekers. Thanks for pointing out these tips.


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 6 years ago from UK and Nerujenia Author

Hello Andy: Thanks for reading, and your comments are always welcome. I will check out your hubs too. Cheers!


acaetnna profile image

acaetnna 6 years ago from Guildford

This is awesome Cheeky Girl and so useful. Gosh spelling and grammar are still so very important even in this modern era! Thanks for a great hub.


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 6 years ago from UK and Nerujenia Author

Hello, acaetnna: glad you find it useful. I agree about grammar & spelling. On a CV / resume, it could not be more important. Cheers! :)


cookibuq profile image

cookibuq 6 years ago from Ireland / Hong Kong

Voted up, awesome and useful ! In times of recession on this side of the planet, we all need a good looking CV. Thanks for all the pointers :)


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 6 years ago from UK and Nerujenia Author

Hello cookibuq: cool name and logo you got there. Thanks for the vote up. In these times people need every help they can get, and I am glad to share knowledge in any way possible. The CV that impresses bosses can boost the candidate's prospects a lot. Glad to share the pointers here. Cheers.


Andres 6 years ago

Great article! Another point that I would add is to make sure that as much content as possible in your resume is relevant to the skills requested in the advertised job.


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 6 years ago from UK and Nerujenia Author

Hy Adres - thanks for the comments. Yes, the relevance of the skills to the position being advertised is paramount, and usually the first thing the person would ensure before doing an interview. Thanks!


thesingernurse profile image

thesingernurse 4 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

Very well said Cheeky Girl! Your hub made me rush on my application documents right at this very moment... Be right back after I apply your valuable tips! :D

Thank you for sharing! Voted up!


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 4 years ago from UK and Nerujenia Author

Hey thesingernurse! Thanks for the great comments and yes the follow too! I am planning to make a free ebook out of my hubs on Job applications and job finding and interview tip for jobs. You are a star! I blushed reading the fan mail! LOL! Cheers! :)


JanikaLeeReyes 17 months ago

fabulous, I am currently looking for a new job, I hope you an understand how delighted and grateful I am for this hub. Great tips, I felt I was stuck in a jam. Been applying no luck. Its terrible, but I have hope


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 5 months ago from UK and Nerujenia Author

Hey Janika, that's awesome! Changing jobs and careers is a great opportunity to move in new directions, develop and grow. Don't give up on your dreams. Thanks for the comments. Cheers!

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