Common CV mistakes

Applications Adviser Emily Hogg takes a look at 5 common mistakes students make when writing their CV, and how you can avoid them.

  • Formatting problems: Different industries have different CV requirements. For example, banking and finance CVs should be one page long, and engineering CVs should include details of projects you have worked on during your degree. Research the particular requirements for your career area. If you are an international student applying to jobs in the UK, note that British CVs should be 2 pages maximum (except for banking and finance CVs), they should not include a photograph, and they should describe explicitly how you have the skills the employer is looking for. Also, it’s best not to use the Europass CV to apply for jobs in the UK – have a look at our online resources for examples.
  • Including long paragraphs of text: You want to be detailed in your CV and ensure that you give the employer all the relevant information, but you also need to make sure that they read it and notice all your excellent experience! Because recruiters tend to receive many applications, they prefer easy-to-read formats. Blocks of text look like they will take a long time to read. Instead, use bullet points to break up the information and short sections to highlight the key details.
  • Sending generic CVs: Don’t send the same CV to every job you apply to. This might seem like a time-saving approach, but it is less effective than tailoring your CV to each vacancy. Employers are different and similar-sounding jobs have different requirements. Take the time to explicitly show how your previous experience has helped you to develop the specific skills the employer is looking for; you can find these skills in the job description and person specification.

  • Forgetting to proofread: You must check for spelling and grammar mistakes. Errors look unprofessional, and – in a crowded job market – might give employers a reason to discard your application. Proofread your application and, if possible, ask a friend or family member to proofread it too – it’s difficult to spot mistakes in your own writing.
  • Making statements without evidence: It’s crucial to highlight your skills in your CV. But you should always back up your statements with evidence. If one of your bullet points states: ‘I am an excellent communicator with the ability to take the initiative and work independently’, the person reading has no idea if this is really the case – anyone can say they are a good communicator. If instead you write that you ‘demonstrated communication skills by explaining complex and detailed information to my students in my role as a tutor’ you show that you understand what communication skills are and you give a concrete example of a time when you used these skills. This is always more concrete and more persuasive.


Don’t forget, you can book a 20 minute appointment with one of our Application Advisers for feedback on your application, CV or cover letter.

< Click on the image to open our ‘How to write a CV’ guide, including samples.



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