Top 5 CV writing mistakes to avoid

Top 5 CV writing mistakes to avoid

Are you surprised that your CV is not getting as much traction with recruiters as your expected? You have the education, the skills and the professional experience. But you aren’t getting the call-backs.


Take a look at our list of top 5 CV writing mistakes you might be making without realising it. And use ExpressCV’s expertise to get you back on the right track to interviews and your best new role, ASAP — and ideally, avoid making these mistakes in the first instance.

Mistake 5 - Not spell checking or proofreading

Everyone makes typos. But making them and not checking them is inexcusable. It speaks to your lack of attention to detail and a slap-dash attitude. Neither of which are qualities that a potential employer wants in a new hire. Check, check and recheck — ask a friend or colleague you trust to be a fresh pair of eyes just in case you missed a stray comma or made a grammatical mistake. You only get one chance to make a good impression and recruiters don’t take a second moment to throw a badly written CV onto the reject pile. Don’t be one of those!

Mistake 4 - Using inappropriate language or slang

Abbreviations belong on memes, not your CV. Likewise, your CV is a professional document — you should be formal and professional in all of your language choices. This includes not using contractions, abbreviations or American spelling conventions in the UK. If in doubt, check the spelling before you hit save, and use a thesaurus (sparingly!) if you are struggling to find an appropriate synonym.

Mistake 3 - Missing out vital information

An error of hubris and judgment, is to gloss over important details or include them in note form, under the assumption that you will reach the stage of an interview so that you can spend 30 minutes talking about how you led your sales team into victory for 3 years running. Don’t miss out information that you need to bolster your application — it is always better to include more than less information; you might not make it to the interview because of a high calibre of candidates across the board, but to be considered you must give it your best shot and include all of your information and achievements. Read the job description several times and ensure you hit all of the right notes — missing none. 

Mistake 2 - Errors of formatting

Using bullet points, switching to dashes and randomly indenting your paragraphs makes for a messy and difficult to read CV. Similarly, font swaps, different sizing and the like all reflect poorly on you as a candidate. Perhaps the most mortal of sins is to send your CV in a format that is not universally readable. In general, use docx (open Window Word format) and PDF together, unless you specifically know that your targeted recruiter is a Mac or Adobe Creative Suite user and can open your Pages or InDesign file. So many times, excellent CVs get tragically thrown onto the rubbish pile because the file format cannot be opened by the recruiter’s computer.

Mistake 1 - The erstwhile copy and paste gone wrong

This is our top faux pas, that can see you falter straight out of the starting gate. Although recruiters may not expect you to write brand new, tailored and bespoke CVs and covering letters for each application, they certainly expect you to get the name of the addressee or the company correct. Sending “Dear Microsoft” to Samsung, or copy and pasting the wrong addressee details into your covering letter looks amateurish and embarrassing. You would be surprised and horrified by the volume of qualified and talented candidates who fall foul of the “copy and paste gone wrong.” Avoid this by keeping organised and knowing exactly to whom you are speaking when you write every and every e-mail, cover letter and targeted CV.

Learn more about how to maximise your chances of job success — ExpressCV has new posts every week to assist you in your career search for success!

Ready to apply?