Perfecting your job application is crucial in this extremely competitive job market. Pivotal in this job application is your CV.

You have probably heard of many who merely write their CVs according to examples they find on the internet. In addition, some just update their CVs based on recent changes in their professional backgrounds.

40+ CV Errors that Harm Your Job Application Significantly

© Shutterstock | Matej Kotula

In reality, creating and updating your CV is more complicated than you think. To guarantee that you make a good first impression with your CV and avoid embarrassment, we have compiled the usual CV errors that could harm your job application significantly. These are grouped by content, format, and file properties.


#1 Casual Tone

Adapting a casual tone is a negative on any CV. You must have the balance of being interesting enough to be unique but at the same time also being professional (and not over-share). Having a positive and objective tone is key for your CV.

#2 Claims with No Basis

Making claims that you are “the best salesperson in the country” or the “the most prolific program manager in the industry” will not show that you are extremely experienced and talented. It is actually quite embarrassing since these claims are impossible to prove and will make you seem as if you are not credible. Use facts to prove your success and value humbly to your potential employers.

#3 Clichés and Jargons

Eliminate clichés and jargons from your CVs. Choose to be precise and use action verbs that denote positive action. So instead of saying you are a “can-do person,” change it to “initiated a…”.

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#4 Concealment of Significant Data

You may be tempted to conceal certain jobs wherein you did not perform so well. Make sure to include them if you still gained some experience and work ethics. If they are not included in your CV, your employer will question the employment gap.

#5 Concentrating on Responsibilities, not Accomplishments

It may be easy for you to go into a straightforward mode wherein you just list your job duties in your CV. However, employers do not care about your duties so much as what you have accomplished.

Hence, instead of writing that you “recorded the weekly minutes of the meeting,” highlight that you “used a recording system for weekly minutes of the meeting and compiled them logically for future reference.” It is important that you prove your impact to the organization.

#6 Exam Grades

Your CV has to be precise and sharp. Do not muddy your message by including the grades you got more than a decade ago. You can include if you gained a good degree, of course. Be relevant by simply referencing your most recent educational achievements. Nevertheless, keep in mind that important job history is more significant the educational history, so begin with your professional experience.

#7 Generic Interests

Generic interests listed on your CV such as cooking and gardening do nothing to improve your professional desirability. Pick ones that are related to your job application.

#8 Incorrect or Lacking Contact Information

Many people take their contact information for granted. Remember, if you do not have your contact information on your resume or even have an outdated one, how can interested employers contact you? Thus, make sure that you double-check what is in your contact details, namely your accurate address, phone number, and email address.

#9 Inferior Grammar and Spelling

It is expected that if you are a strong candidate you should also have strong communication skills. Therefore, if you have grammatical and spelling errors, this can negatively affect your job candidacy. Proofread and edit your CV for grammar and spelling errors. Besides using the typical grammar and spelling checkers in your word processing program, you can request your family and friends to peruse your CV for any writing mistakes you have missed.

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#10 Irrelevant Information

You might be the “king of the barbeque grill,” in the first restaurant you worked in during high school. However, this is considered as CV clutter. If you have previous professional experience that is irrelevant to the current job, choose to remove the irrelevant information.

Remember, recruitment managers spend only a few seconds browsing through CVs, so do not to clog your CV with insignificant data, making them miss the important parts.

#11 Keyword Stuffing

There are newer company innovations wherein CVs go through an automated computer that scans your CV before it is received by an actual person. These system innovations look for keywords in your CVs that are connected to the vacancy. Moreover, it removes CVs that do not have those relevant keywords.

Nonetheless, knowing this process has made some candidates stuff their CVs with too many keywords. This is not a good strategy.

First, your CV will look odd once read by a real person and distracts from your writing flow. Next, not all companies rely on these systems. So simply compose your CV to impress to the recruiters that you are the best person for the job and maybe add a few keywords strategically, but remember not to overstuff it. 

#12 Lack of Action Verbs

Do not fill your CV with less than proactive words such as “filed,” or “wrote,” or “followed.” Alternatively, use action verbs such as “created,” “initiated,” or “led.” The action verbs denote that you are proactive and can head a team.

#13 Large Blocks of Text

A recruiter will not proceed with reading your CV if you have large blocks of paragraphs without any breaks. This is especially true if the recruiter has been scanning CVs in the hundreds each week. Instead of asking the recruiter to go through large blocks of texts, break up your information into bullet points or short paragraphs. Recruiters can skim through your CV and find the information that they are looking for quite easily with this strategy.

#14 Manipulation or Falsification of Truths

We strictly do not advise lying on your CV with enhanced qualifications or invented professional experience. Although it is a given that people manipulate or falsify the truth on their CVs and get away with it, you should know it is not worth the risk.

First, if the recruiter is diligent enough, they will check all your facts and if they do not make sense, you can be removed immediately from the process and even blacklisted.

Second, if you are able to get a job using experience and skills you really do not have, you will be challenged to accomplish the tasks given to you on your first day and your lie will eventually be discovered.

#15 Many Details for Older Positions

Recruiters do not need to find out about your responsibilities from a position you held a decade or so ago. At the most, they will merely glance at them. When discussing your older roles, a short summary is enough. You should give more space to your more current responsibilities.

#16 Negative Tones/Words

To have a more professional and optimistic feel to your CV, avoid negative tones or words such as “broke up,” “stopped,” etc.

#17 No Specifics

Make sure to detail your initiatives and projects in your CV that are of relevance to the job. Guarantee that your CV has your roles, responsibilities, achievements, and benefits to your past employers. If these points are not clear on your CV, rewrite it to convey it more lucidly.

#18 Quotes That Are Cringe-Worthy

Even if you love quotes, completely remove them from your CV. Your favorite quote can be “Dance like no one’s watching. Sing like no one’s listening. Love like you’ve never been hurt.” That is well and good, but this has no place in a professional CV.

#19 Reasons for Leaving Previous Job(s)

Recruitment managers do not need to read the reasons why you left your previous job(s). Focus your CV in attracting the recruiters based on your experience and talent. Although you may want to communicate your reasons for leaving your current job and applying to a new employer, you can briefly explain this in your cover letter or the interview.

#20 References Not Needed To Be Listed

Remember that the employer will not ask for your references until you are already at the offer stage. In addition, if recruiters want to talk to your references, they will request it from you. So do not waste the space on your CV by listing your references. Some more mistakes you should avoid.

#21 Salary Requirements

Your CV’s objective is to receive a request for a job interview by showing your suitability for the role. Keep in mind that at this stage, money is not be a factor. There is also the variable of keeping your cards close to you when it comes to salary requirements—you would like to receive the biggest possible rate.

Case in point, if an organization is willing to pay $40,000 for a position and you told them you would only need $30,000, then it would be difficult to negotiate anything higher. Moreover, if you make salary demands at the early stages, it would seem too forward.

#22 Sending the Same CV to All

Do not send a generic CV to all the companies you are applying to. Remember to tailor fit it to the organization. Not only will this give your CV a chance to be perused by a recruiter, it also gives you the opportunity to demonstrate that you are taking their job recruitment process seriously. A recruiter can be turned off by persons who do not take the time to learn more about their organization before applying.

#23 Skills Graphs

Some job applicants include skills graphs on their CVs to provide recruiters with the visual information of the abilities of a candidate. Nevertheless, the issue with skills graphs is that they do not provide a true, concrete scale, leaving employers with no real idea of your skills level. So do not use skills graphs and focus on writing in plain text.

#24 Too Lengthy

Note that recruiters spend an inordinate amount of time receiving and going through CVs. Nevertheless, they do not spend 30 minutes per CV. When your CV is too lengthy, this dissuades them from going through it and chances are, they will not read it until the end. You have to ensure that you communicate all the significant information about you in a precise manner. Use bullet points and short sentences.

For experienced professionals, 2-page CVs would suffice. If you were at the graduate level, a 1-page CV would be appropriate. If you have a CV that is 3 pages in length or more, they will most likely be skipped.

#25 Unexplainable Employment Gaps

It is expected that you may have gaps in employment, especially if you have gone on sabbatical or health leaves. However, if there is a huge gap in your work history and you leave it unexplained, this can worry recruiters as they might think you did not do anything during this time.

Hence, do not hesitate at writing about the time you took to travel or to volunteer. Otherwise, recruiters would jump to conclusions and think you may have been simply lazy or unemployable. It is better to reflect that you have been constructive rather than having done completely nothing at all.

#26 Unprofessional Email Address

You are trying to appear impressive, credible, and professional on your CV. Hence, it is an error to include in your CV an unprofessional email address such as It is completely unprofessional and recruiters would question your work ethic. So if you have an embarrassing email address, create a new (and free) email address that conveys professionalism.

#27 Vagueness

You can never get your expected results if you are vague on your CV. Another candidate who is more concise would remove you from the applicant roster. If you are simply too vague or wordy, a recruiter will have no idea what you have really accomplished.

Thus, instead of saying you “increased profits,” include the actual amount of increase. This indicates to the recruiter that you are willing to have the facts verified since you are transparent.

#28 Very Short

While it is not advisable to have such a long CV, it is also not recommended to have a very short one. A CV that is only half a page indicates that you are not sufficiently experienced and/or educated enough for a position.

#29 Without Personal Development

To appear professional but also dynamic on a personal level, show that you have some sort of personal development. This can serve as an icebreaker between you and the recruiter. Examples that are interesting yet lends to your professional capabilities are voluntary work or foreign language skills.

#30 Worthless Introduction

If you decide to have an introduction in your CV, ensure that it is concise and to the point, which sums up precisely the main qualifications the recruiter is searching for. Try not to use phrases that are meaningless such as, “Driven and results-oriented team player.” Clearly indicate your main qualification for the position.

An example would be: “Sales manager with 20 years of professional experience in marketing.” If a recruiting manager looks at just one item on your CV, this could be your introduction, so tell them a lot in just this phrase.

#31 Writing in the Third Person

Since your CV is a communications method between your possible employer and yourself, always use the first person. If you write your CV using the third person, it slightly breaks the communication flow and would make you seem out-of-touch and a bit arrogant and pretentious.


#32 Unsuitable Colors

Although it has become more typical for CVs to have a little color, be aware of the kind and amount of colors that you use. If you want to add a pop of color, go with those that are safe and only use them in your headings. Do not go over the top by writing your entire CV in a neon color or have a background color. Moreover, when you apply to more traditional companies such as law firms, banks, or multinational corporations, it is best to stick with black and white.

#33 Emojis and Clip Art

Most recruiters hate emojis and clip art. So save those for text messages and Facebook and Twitter comments.

#34 Inappropriate Structure

It is an error if you simply copy your CV structure from the internet, a friend, or a book. While their structure might be good for them, it could be inappropriate for you. We do not recommend simply using a template from Microsoft Word either. Your resume, at best, would seem very similar to the others.

So carefully plan your CV’s structure and design as part of an overall strategy. The appropriate structure highlights your strengths and downplays your weaknesses like job hopping, employment gaps, and the like.

This is how you can create a good CV structure.

#35 Inconsistent Formatting

Connected to the CV error of inappropriate structure, your CV has to be easy to read and must be clear. Spend time to make sure everything is aligned and all paragraphs and bullet points are the same size and font. Having disorganized formatting in your CV shows your lack of organization and attention to detail.

#36 Organizations’ Logos

It is unnecessary to have the logos of the organizations you have worked for on your CV. Usually, logos are not formatted correctly and takes up a lot of space on the CV. The space could be better used to talk about your professional value in words. In addition, pictures on your CV could increase your file size and confuse the employer’s CV scanning software, resulting in failed or delayed delivery to some email addresses.

#37 Overly Ornate Design

It is crucial that you do not embellish your CV with too ornate fonts, graphs, and images that would distract the recruiter from your qualifications. Hence, eliminate borders and backgrounds. Allow your achievements and experiences to shine.

#38 Unconventional or Fun Font Style and Size

One of the most important aspects of an effective CV is that it should be easy for recruiters and employers to read. Thus, go with font styles that are friendly to the computer screen such as Arial, Tahoma, Times New Roman, or Verdana. Stick to font sizes of pt. 10 or pt. 12 for the body and larger or bold font sizes for the subheadings.

Although it can be tempting to make use of fancy curling fonts to lend some elegance to your CV, this makes your file tough to go through and will give your recruiting managers a headache.


#39 Bad File Names

When you send your CV through email, the file name is evident because it is an attachment. If you did not give an appropriate name to your CV file, it can seem unprofessional. Take a few seconds to alter your file name, showing a more professional and polished look. Just your name followed by CV would be alright (or the other way around). A recruiter that gets thousands of CVs that is just “CV.doc” will feel much better when he or she sees one named “Jane Smith – CV.doc.”

#40 Poor Paper Quality

If you would rather go the traditional route and send your CV in a classic format by submitting your CV by mail or in person, make sure that the paper that you use for your CV is of good quality. Ensure that it is thick enough and not flimsy, wrinkled, or folded. On the flipside, do not go overboard and print your CV on a scented stationary board, for example.

#41 Wrong File Format

If you are sending your CV through email, make sure if the job advertisement specifies what kind of file format to use. When the job advertisement does not indicate the file format, your best options are .pdf, .doc, or .rtf. You could also choose to send your CV in two different formats.

We hope that through this substantial article, you now know how to avoid these common CV errors. Good luck on your job hunt!

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