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5 things you should avoid on your CV

author: Sarah Neate

By Sarah Neate

There's a lot of conflicting advice out there about the best way to write a CV. However, all employers will agree it's best to dodge these things. 

1. Clichés or overused language 

By using recycled phrases, not only will you fail to stand out from the crowd, but it could seem as though you haven’t put much effort into writing it either.

These phrases are some of the most overused when it comes to a CV:

  • a great team player
  • strong communication skills
  • hard-worker
  • a fast learner.

Instead of using these phrases, give examples of when you’ve shown these traits. For example:

  • If you’re a great team player, give an example of a time when you successfully managed or worked in a team.
  • If you have strong communication skills, you could talk about a time when you had to resolve a difficult situation with an unhappy customer.
  • Labelling yourself as a hard worker isn’t always impressive to an employer- try using conscientious or industrious as an alternative.
  • Instead of saying you’re a fast learner, talk about a time when your quick learning skills were needed. This could be if you started a new role and had to take on a big responsibility early on.

2. Too much writing 

Employers often have to get through a lot of CVs for one position. So if there are big blocks of writing, it could put them off from reading it.

Keep it brief and to the point - one page is ideal.

Break down your experience and education into key parts using bullet points. The employer or hiring manager will be able to take in your info much more quickly.  

3. Irrelevant information 

Avoid packing your CV with anything that isn’t relevant to the job role.  

Personal characteristics

In the UK, an employer wouldn’t expect to see a CV with a photograph on it. You also don’t need to include your date of birth, nationality or any irrelevant hobbies.

Work experience

When you apply for a job, read the description of the role carefully. You should only include relevant work experience. If you include every job you've ever done then your CV won’t seem tailored for the role.  

Social media

Some people choose to include their social media handles, but this isn’t always necessary. If you’re applying for a job as a graphic designer, then it could help if you give your accounts that showcase your work. But, if you’re applying for a role in customer service, then they don't need to see what you put on social media.

4. A description of what you look like

A potential employer doesn’t need to know what you look like, so you should never include a description of your appearance in your CV.

Instead of focusing on your appearance, draw attention to your attributes, skills and abilities. Be sure to always use positive terminology when doing this, such as:

  • organised
  • innovative
  • versatile
  • determined
  • collaborative
  • disciplined  
  • focused.

When you give examples, use words that describe how you worked and carried out tasks, such as:

  • influenced
  • designed
  • facilitated
  • initiated
  • deployed
  • shaped.

Make sure all your word choices are appropriate for what you're talking about. Get someone else to check it if you need to.

5. Grammatical errors or spelling mistakes

Always take time and care over your spelling and grammar. Bad spelling and grammar can be extremely off-putting to a potential employer, and it could come across as careless.

Proof-read your CV before sending it out, and if you know someone who would be happy to take a look over it for you, ask them to check it.

For information on schemes that are getting people to get back to work, read on here.

Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.

author: Sarah Neate

By Sarah Neate

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