• You've written your CV, you've proof-read it 300 times, you've made sure there are no lies (well, maybe just the one about being interested in macramé). 

But there are still ways to put employers off at first sight. Often we don’t realise the mistakes we’ve made until we’re minded to look out for certain things in particular. Call it unconscious self-bias, boredom at reading over your own writing, or just plain laziness (we’ve all been guilty). Here are seven things to keep an eye on when doing that final read-over.

    You've written your CV, you've proof-read it 300 times, you've made sure there are no lies (well, maybe just the one about being interested in macramé). But there are still ways to put employers off at first sight. Often we don’t realise the mistakes we’ve made until we’re minded to look out for certain things in particular. Call it unconscious self-bias, boredom at reading over your own writing, or just plain laziness (we’ve all been guilty). Here are seven things to keep an eye on when doing that final read-over.

  • 1. JARGON 

Are you a comprehensive blue-sky thinker who, going forward, is looking to upskill so you can leverage key verticals? That’s marvellous, but we fell asleep at ‘comprehensive’. Jargon – even basic phrases like ‘going forward’ – makes you sound inarticulate. Avoid at all costs.

    1. JARGON Are you a comprehensive blue-sky thinker who, going forward, is looking to upskill so you can leverage key verticals? That’s marvellous, but we fell asleep at ‘comprehensive’. Jargon – even basic phrases like ‘going forward’ – makes you sound inarticulate. Avoid at all costs.

  • 2. OVER-FORMAL LANGUAGE 

Alright, so there are only so many times you can use the word ‘role’ before it starts to sound repetitive. But avoid the temptation to resort to the thesaurus: ‘I am passionate about my work’ may sound drab, but ‘I am concupiscent in my travails’ just sounds baffling. Employers want people who can communicate well.

    2. OVER-FORMAL LANGUAGE Alright, so there are only so many times you can use the word ‘role’ before it starts to sound repetitive. But avoid the temptation to resort to the thesaurus: ‘I am passionate about my work’ may sound drab, but ‘I am concupiscent in my travails’ just sounds baffling. Employers want people who can communicate well.

  • 3. WEAK LANGUAGE 

‘I think, therefore I am,’ said Descartes. No wonder he spent all his time ruminating: with language like that, any employer would have rejected him. Avoid terms like ‘I think’ or ‘I feel’. Be confident in your achievements: go for more solid, definite phrases like ‘I am’ (which admittedly Descartes also used – but way too late) or ‘I do’.

    3. WEAK LANGUAGE ‘I think, therefore I am,’ said Descartes. No wonder he spent all his time ruminating: with language like that, any employer would have rejected him. Avoid terms like ‘I think’ or ‘I feel’. Be confident in your achievements: go for more solid, definite phrases like ‘I am’ (which admittedly Descartes also used – but way too late) or ‘I do’.

  • 4. VISUAL JAZZ 

Obviously, there are exceptions – if you’re a graphic designer, for instance, a snazzy design will help you stand out. But if you’re applying for a mid-level management role, just go for the standard layout. Also, a cramped CV is an uncomfortable CV: there should be plenty of white space around the text.

    4. VISUAL JAZZ Obviously, there are exceptions – if you’re a graphic designer, for instance, a snazzy design will help you stand out. But if you’re applying for a mid-level management role, just go for the standard layout. Also, a cramped CV is an uncomfortable CV: there should be plenty of white space around the text.

  • 5. A LITTLE LESS CONVERSATION, A LITTLE MORE ACTION PLEASE 

We can all list our duties – Management Today’s are, in this order: ‘making tea’, ‘drinking tea’, ‘obsessively checking analytics’, ‘Googling itself’, and ‘sometimes writing copy’. But your achievements are more important than your duties – put them first.

    5. A LITTLE LESS CONVERSATION, A LITTLE MORE ACTION PLEASE We can all list our duties – Management Today’s are, in this order: ‘making tea’, ‘drinking tea’, ‘obsessively checking analytics’, ‘Googling itself’, and ‘sometimes writing copy’. But your achievements are more important than your duties – put them first.

  • 6. FILED UNDER 'LAME' 

You may have tailored your CV to the job, but have you changed the file name? ‘JimmyAmazonCVv7’ isn’t going to look great if you’re applying for a job at Amazon. Equally, when an employer has 200 resumes to look through, naming yours something vague will make it hard for them to find. You can’t go wrong with your first name and last name.

    6. FILED UNDER 'LAME' You may have tailored your CV to the job, but have you changed the file name? ‘JimmyAmazonCVv7’ isn’t going to look great if you’re applying for a job at Amazon. Equally, when an employer has 200 resumes to look through, naming yours something vague will make it hard for them to find. You can’t go wrong with your first name and last name.

  • 7. NO NUMBERS  

If you’re some kind of art assistant, then fine – but in any other job you should be able to quantify what you’ve done. How much did you bring in for your company last year? How much did you increase web traffic by? If you can show the hirer solid facts, that’s going to impress more than anything.

    7. NO NUMBERS If you’re some kind of art assistant, then fine – but in any other job you should be able to quantify what you’ve done. How much did you bring in for your company last year? How much did you increase web traffic by? If you can show the hirer solid facts, that’s going to impress more than anything.

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7 mistakes to avoid on your CV

From incomprehensible jargon to plain lame, beware these resume no-nos.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 20 Feb 2018

Images: Shutterstock

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