Ten Things That Should Never Be Written On A CV

Tens, if not hundreds, of people apply for each job that’s advertised which means that it’s more important than ever to make sure your CV stands out from the rest.

UK Recruiter 3rd March 2014

Before applying for a job you should revise your CV and tweak it slightly in order to make sure it’s relevant to the role that you’re applying for. A lot of people make the mistake of sending a CV that they wrote years before and which hasn’t been updated since they finished high school or university. It’s imperative to read through and update your CV regularly to ensure that all of your relevant skills are included.

It’s true that recruiters have so many applications and CVs to sift through that each may get barely ten seconds of their attention. This means that yours needs to be short and snappy in order to catch their eye and to keep it out of the waste paper bin.

1. Don’t apply for a position if you’re under qualified

There’s absolutely no point in applying for a job that you’re not qualified for, but unfortunately, this is something that a lot of people do and it’s nothing but a waste of theirs and the recruiter’s time. Liking the sound of a job or the fact that a role has an attractive salary to accompany it really isn’t a reason to apply and you should spend time looking closely at the job description and any other relevant information that is provided before hitting the ‘apply here’ button.

After reading through any extra documentation that’s provided, you should sit back and really consider whether you’ve got the skills that are suitable for such a role. If the answer’s yes, then, and only then, should you apply. If the answer’s no, then save yourself time and save the recruiter time too – and also save yourself the heartache of facing yet another, inevitable rejection.

2. Irrelevant personal information

Contrary to many people’s beliefs, your CV is not the place for personal details. Your political interests, height, weight and eye colour might be things that you deem interesting about yourself, but they won’t help you get a job so leave them out. A statement like ‘GSCE level French’ is also an unnecessary addition. If you can’t speak a language to an advanced or fluent level and are unable to use it in within business, leave it out.

3. Make sure important information can be found easily

There’s no point burying important information on your CV because when it’s got a recruiter’s attention for less than ten seconds, they need to be able to see the facts that are useful to them straight away. Whatever it is that makes you perfect for the position that’s being advertised should be clearly marked, high up on your CV as opposed to being buried in sections further down. Recruiters appreciate the information that they need being easy to find and if you make sure the information’s obvious, if you’re right for the role, there’s no chance your CV will be overlooked.

Remember to sell yourself and make the reasons that you’ll be a benefit to the company obvious, in a concise, easy to understand and compelling few paragraphs.

4. Avoid typos and spelling and grammatical errors

If there’s one thing that will see your CV tossed straight into the bin, regardless of your experience, qualifications and potential, it’s spelling errors, grammatical mistakes and typos. This is one rule that all recruiters would hope was obvious, but it isn’t as there are many people who still don’t check through what they’ve written before sending it on. Nowadays there’s really no excuse either as the majority of jobs are applied for online which means that most people write their CV in a Word document. Word processing programs have a spell checker which will probably also check for grammatical errors.

Message from the recruiters: A spell checker is there for a reason, so use it.

5. Unexplained employment gaps

Almost everyone will have had that interview situation where you’ve had to explain a perfectly legitimate gap in employment. Whether it’s because you were travelling, on sabbatical or for any other reason, make sure you explain this to avoid your CV being cast aside due to potential employers see you as some kind of risk.

6. Never lie or mislead a potential employer

Obviously you’re not going to highlight any negative qualities that you may have as the whole point of your CV is to portray yourself in the best possible light. Although it’s expected that you might exaggerate slightly on certain aspects of your CV to make it sparkle and stand out from the rest, it’s really important not to take it too far because recruiters will spot lies. Recruitment agencies and potential employers are always on the lookout for inflated qualifications, achievements, earnings and job titles.

It’s important to remember that the people who will be looking at your CV will have been recruiting new employees for years and will know if you’re exaggerating. If you were considering lying about your past achievements in order to try and bag an interview for the job of your dreams then be aware that a lot of employers are now performing background checks, using candidate checking services, to ensure that you do actually have the qualifications and experience that’s necessary for the role for which you’re applying. If you want to avoid an embarrassing interview situation then don’t lie on your CV and don’t apply for jobs for which you don’t have the relevant experience and qualifications, because you will be found out.

7. Long CVs

There’s nothing worse for a recruiter to face than a long and waffling CV. Regardless of your knowledge and experience, you’re unlikely to get an interview if your CV looks like this because recruiters won’t waste their time reading it. Don’t include any unnecessary information because it means the important stuff may be overlooked. Make sure it doesn’t take up more than two sides of A4 because if it does, it suggests to potential employers that you’ve had a lot of jobs over the years – something they’ll be wary of – or that you can’t write in a clear and concise manner, which is another negative. If you’re a little older and applying for a job then it can be hard to stick to the two page limit when you’ve got to describe every job that you’ve had for the last 30 years. Recruiters’ advice is to mention the role but don’t describe it because the likelihood is that it won’t be overly relevant anyway. Recruiters would prefer you to explain the more recent experience and achievements as opposed to irrelevant roles that you may have had in the past. If you feel that you should refer to jobs from years ago in order to avoid employment gaps or because they’re relevant to the role that you’re applying for then attach a separate document for ‘previous employment’.

Every recruiter will appreciate your taking the time to separate the things that are relevant from the things that probably aren’t. The same applies to qualifications too. If you studied something years ago purely because it was a compulsory subject at school then it’s probably not relevant to the job you’re applying for and should therefore be included in a separate document of ‘Other qualifications’. However, even if you obtained a qualification aeons ago, if you’ve maintained your skills – for example, you did a degree in French in the 70s and have been to France every year since in order to maintain your speaking skills – then it’s always worth including on your CV.

8. Font Size and Style

Simplicity is key when it comes to your CV. A funky, brightly coloured font, although undoubtedly eye catching, is not what a recruiter would deem as professional. Moreover, chopping and changing your font is a sure way to put yourself in the ‘no’ pile. There is no need to “jazz up” your CV with a diverse mixture of Comic Sans, Century Gothic and a hint of Times New Roman: it just looks uncoordinated and confused. Stick to a black, simple font, whilst keeping the size consistent throughout.

9. Unprofessional Email Addresses

We all remember the days of MSN and Hotmail, where an obscure or amusing email address was encouraged rather than dismissed. However, when applying for a job, it is important to say goodbye to ‘ This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ’ or ‘ This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ’, the email account you created when you were twelve. As a candidate, you need to be taken seriously, and recruiters will be apprehensive to put you forward when your contact details portray you in a less than professional light. Make sure to create a new account so you aren’t discounted and can portray yourself as a credible contender.

10. Overuse of Business Jargon or Acronyms

When submitting your CV to recruitment agencies, don’t assume that the business jargon and acronyms that were used in your last position is common knowledge. Particularly if you want to move away from your previous industry, it is important to use language that is clear and concise, where anyone can read it and understand. A CV full of complicated words and abbreviations will not put you in good stead. Try to explain the more complicated aspects of your previous roles. Once written, reread your CV as an outsider, asking yourself – “does this make sense?”


Constructing an effective and meaningful CV isn’t an easy task and it’s not something that can be done in five minutes. However, avoid these no-no’s and you’ll be well on your way to an interview for the job of your dreams.