Common CV Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them)

Making a strong first impression on a job application can be difficult, but by being aware of the most common CV mistakes, and how to avoid them, you can give yourself the best chance at securing an interview.

So what are some of the CV mistakes we see the most often?

1. Failing to tailor your CV to the vacancy

It’s important to remember that when it comes to a CV, one size does not fit all. You need to clearly demonstrate why you’re the right person for the job - and show that you’ve done your research. To do that effectively, you need to make sure that your CV is tailored to each vacancy you apply for.

Include the words and phrases used in the job specification in your CV, and put emphasis on the aspects of your experience that are most relevant to the job. Don’t be afraid to remove irrelevant information if you need to - check the specific requirements of each role and edit your application to match.

For more info on how to tailor your CV, check out our previous blog.

2. Not providing enough evidence

Another common mistake we see is candidates focusing too much on duties rather than achievements, and failing to provide a sufficient amount of evidence. What does this mean? Giving evidence and examples of when and how you have used each of your listed skills demonstrate that:
1. You have the skills and experience you claim you do
2. How you have had an impact in your previous jobs

Without evidence, a CV can quickly appear cliche or generic, so it’s important to back up your claims wherever possible to give context and enable the hiring manager to properly understand your skill set.

Tip: Explain your achievements, but not at the expense of readability. Make sure your CV stays quick and easy to read. A recruiter will be using your CV to assess both what you’ve done, and how you communicate.

3. Poor formatting

If there are a lot of applications, a recruiter may only spend a matter of seconds reviewing each one they receive. If your CV isn’t clear and easy to read, this can put you at a disadvantage.

Proper formatting consists of:

  • Subheadings for each section - profile, employment history, education, achievements, etc.
  • Bullet points where possible
  • Easy to read sans-serif font in a size no smaller than 10
  • Standard sized margins, header & footer
  • Plenty of white space to prevent it feeling cramped

4. Too Long

Following on from making sure your CV is properly formatted, you should also be careful not to let it get too long.

The purpose of a CV is to effectively demonstrate your experience and abilities, in a clear and succinct manner. It needs to be quick and easy to review - so as well as being well formatted, it should be short.

Aim to keep your CV to two pages - a CV that has been properly tailored to the job spec and which has been written concisely shouldn’t typically need to be any longer than that.

Are you ready to find your next job?

XCL are a specialist recruitment agency, helping skilled candidates across Yorkshire find their ideal jobs. We’ll get to know you, your work background and your career goals to identify the roles and employers that align best with you.

If you’re ready to enter the next stage of your career, apply online for one of our current job vacancies, or send a copy of your CV to