Common CV Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Most CVs have a few common mistakes that affect their chances of recruitment. You might be the one to make a few of these mistakes, and might not even be aware of it. So, here’s a list of common CV mistakes made by applicants and how to avoid them.

#1: Bad Spelling and Grammar 

The biggest and most repetitive mistakes on any CV are bad grammar, incorrect spelling, and punctuation errors. Living in the modern era, with high-tech AI and other tools to help, submitting CVs with grammatical and spelling errors comes off as ignorant and lacking attention to detail. 

You should make sure that you pay enough attention to your CV to not submit a CV with mistakes. Most recruiters who have an eye for detecting errors are more likely to favor more polished and error-free CVs.

The following are a few ways to eliminate these errors:

  • Reading your CV out loud
  • Reading your CV backward or section by section
  • Uploading your CV to a free CV checker
  • Asking a friend or family member to double-check for mistakes

#2. Poor Formatting

Poor formatting is one of the biggest reasons why candidates that meet the criteria still do not get an interview call. Recruiters only spend a few seconds to scan your CV, to extract the information they require. Poorly formatted CVs are harder for the recruiter to read, making it very tough for them to navigate and extract the key information they are looking for in a potential candidate.

The majority of professional resume writing services focus on this one factor of a resume to get better results for their customers when it comes to interview calls. Making your CV easy to navigate is an essential part of formatting. It also negatively affects your ATS score by causing issues for the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to scan and recognize keywords and phrases.

The following are a few ways to avoid poor formatting:

  • Instead of using over-the-top fancy formats, instead, use a simple format eliminating the chances of confusion and jumbling-up of information.
  • Only using ATS-optimized CV formats.
  • Use pre-made templates instead of creating one from scratch.

#3. Making Your CV Too Long 

Recruiters spend an average of 8 seconds on each CV scanning to find anything that interests them or aligns with the job description to decide whether to invest more of their time reading it. This is due to receiving hundreds upon hundreds of applications for a specific job position.

If you submit a CV that is excruciatingly long and contains unnecessary details, it would make it tougher for the recruiter to extract the information they are looking for. This will the chances of your CV being fully read as a whole and or being overlooked.

The following are a few ways to make your CV too long:

  • Follow the 2 pages rule.
  • Only put relevant details
  • No need to explain everything.
  • Skip what can be skipped.

#4. Not Tailoring Your CV to the Position  

Your CV should never be a “one shoe fits all” type of document. If you are applying to multiple job positions, you should tailor your CV for each of them. The job advert is a well-thought-out set of information that outlines requirements in an orderly fashion.

Consider it as a questionnaire that you get provided with and your CV should be the answer sheet to those sets of questions. This can be done via cover letter as well. You can easily extract the correct information from the job advert, using it as a key and rearranging that information to organize your CV mirroring the job advert.

Following are the ways to tailor your CV:

  • Create a CV draft that contains all the information you want to provide any employer, and can be edited in accordance with the job position you are applying for.
  • Research online 
  • CV resources for the particular job position.
  • Use the same language and writing style as the job advert.
  • Use industry-specific technical terms and position-specific keywords.

#5. Not Focusing on Your Achievements 

Your achievements indicate the standard of work, define your work ethic as well as showcase your working style. Make sure to list any certifications, licenses, or awards you received in the specific industry you are applying in. The details communicate your expertise. This achievement also clearly indicates to the recruiter what you will bring to their company.

The following are the ways to showcase your achievements:

  • Dedicate a whole section to your achievements
  • Quantify your achievements.
  • Provide evidence or details of these achievements
  • Achievements can be anything that catered to a company’s success, growth, or even development.

#6. Ignoring Employment Gaps 

Having an employment gap is not something to be embarrassed or afraid of. But it should always have a proper explanation and should be justified. You should make sure; you always explain employment gaps in your CV if you have any or address it in your cover letter. Showing no regard for the gaps in your CV makes you look guilty.

To recruiters, gaps suggest that you were not employed during those periods, implying that you did not perform to the best of your abilities during previous roles. There is nothing wrong with an employment gap, but it does raise suspicion. There are many valid reasons why you might have a gap in your work history, such as travel, childbirth, starting your own business, or dealing with illness or personal loss.

Candidates who can explain their CV gaps also showcase good interpersonal skills and show that they are conscientious, putting an effort to impress the recruiter by considering how their CV might be perceived, and what questions it might bring across.

Ways to address and explain employment gaps:

  • List your free-lancing or own business timelines in the work experience section of your CV

#7. Including Your Headshot

Your CV is the first point of communication between you and the recruiter. It is human nature to perceive a notion based on someone’s looks. Including your headshot may do more harm than good. The point of a CV is to assure the employer that you have the relevant skills, experience, and qualifications for the job. A picture is irrelevant to the application and your ability to handle tasks and challenges in the workplace.

#8. Not Writing for ATS

Most applicants do not craft their CV keeping the ATS software in mind. Most if not all companies have some sort of ATS software to help their recruitment process. The main purpose of crafting an ATS-friendly CV is to get your application seen by the recruiter. An ATS-compatible CV is a CV that has the relevant keywords that the ATS is programmed to look for. This can only be possible if your application manages to reach the recruiter.

Here are ways a few ways to make your CV ATS-Optimized:

  • Your CV should feature simple headings, layouts, and formats.
  • Use simple, clear language. Structure simple sentences.
  • Be very selective and only use relevant keywords that are mentioned in the job posting. 
  • Writing out acronyms as well as mentioning them, increases the chances of your application scoring higher.
  • Include keywords from the job posting

#9. Not Proofreading

Last but not least, the most repetitive mistake seen in CVs is the fact that the applicants do not proofread their CVs before submitting them. Just like researching is the first essential step to starting any project, similarly proofreading is the most vital step before submitting any project.

It is very common to discover silly mistakes, irregularities, grammatical errors, and even misspelled words upon proofreading. Without proofreading these errors would go unnoticed and would manage to find their way into the final CV, waiting to be discovered by the recruiters.


There are a lot of common mistakes made while writing a CV by applicants. It is very easy to make these mistakes. Make sure to take this list into consideration as a guide of what not to do to avoid these mistakes.

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