CV Howlers: What NOT to write on your CV

Personal Career Management carried out a CV Survey and found that a staggering 98 per cent of job applicants are…

Article by:Corinne Mills


Join our LinkedIn community

Blank CV templateCV Howlers: What NOT to write on your CV

Personal Career Management carried out a CV Survey and found that a staggering 98 per cent of job applicants are reducing their chances of success significantly through CV mistakes including poor spelling, grammar or presentation!

These errors have led to a number of alarming disclosures, such as being “A director with a strong breath”, or perhaps fresh from watching Sweeney Todd, “Baker, working on ovens and customers.” Then there is the potentially eye catching applicant who writes that “I’m looking manly for an IT role” followed by the baffling “Everything I do must be done in Safeway.” The mind boggles! Another which completely confused was the candidate who “had designed and developed a stapler that was capable to staple up to 30 sheets of paper in 2002.” Who knows how many sheets it can staple in 2020.

More job candidate attempts to impress potential employers failed as a result of poor phrasing and inappropriate language such as the rebel who says he’s “Responsible for drug abuse, alcohol and antisocial behaviour.”  He’s clearly not an immediate asset for any employer. Perhaps more suitable is the applicant who proudly announces “I don’t consummate alcohol”

Out of 600 CV’s surveyed we discovered over 90% had errors in spelling or grammar, and 25% of those were badly presented. Other examples of CV mistakes uncovered in the study include the bombastic “Brought in by American company to take control of the UK”, the frightening “I am self discipline” and the most egocentric of all, “Promoted to Head of I”.

We should also celebrate the cutting edge thespian who boasted of being “President of Drama Society and acted in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Othello”.

When asked about key strengths, one applicant merely replied “Broad.” Another could have landed himself in court claiming that he was “A candidate with a sold academic record.”

The final two selected here are both examples of being both inaccurate and unnecessary. “My top 5 clients in the past year have been…” and then a list of eight clients. Secondly, “I speak fluent German language to a working level.”

Mistakes were not confined to applicants for junior roles either. Over 50% of the applications we looked at were drafted by CEOs, professionals and recent graduates.

Our advice? Follow these golden rules to avoid CV mistakes:

  • Check: Check, double-check and then get someone else to check your CV to ensure there are no mistakes
  • Never rely on spell check: Public and pubic are both spelt correctly and will both pass a spell check but may not both convey precisely the meaning you were hoping for on a CV.
  • Watch your language: Include content that is relevant to the job in question providing examples to back up your statements. Use language that is concise rather than jargon heavy.
  • Visuals: Ensure that your CV looks good, using a clear, consistent, style that is visually pleasing and makes the information easy to read. When a photograph is requested as part of the interview process, including a holiday snap from Ibiza is unlikely to impress, yet you would be astonished at the number of people who do this. Smiley faces or similar are equally inappropriate.

If you would like help with your job search, our expert career coaches can help.

You can contact us on 01753 888995, or send us an enquiry via our contact form to find out more about how we can help you create an effective job search campaign.


Join our LinkedIn community

Back to blog

Article by:

Corinne Mills

Article by:

Corinne Mills

Corinne Mills is the Joint Managing Director of Personal Career Management, she is a career coach with 15 years career management experience.

View Articles by Corinne Mills

How do I find out more?

Call us on 0345 686 0745 or fill in our contact form and one of our team will be happy to contact you.

We offer a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your situation and to find out more detail about how our programmes work.

Or Call Us on 0345 686 0745