Career Tips

Avoid these 7 CV mistakes that hinder your success

If you find yourself sending your CV to every potential job, but are getting nowhere, it’s time to self-critique your own CV to make your CV jump out in the mass of applications

Anyone who is active in the job market now, knows how competitive and challenging it is.

Companies are making redundancies so there’s a lot of ‘talent’ out there. Businesses are off-shoring roles so there are fewer roles available. Job roles are changing with the increase of new technology, which means you have to remain on top of tech developments or diversify your skill set, or you’ll be left behind.

Added to these challenges is the numerous ways to source jobs, including recruiters, traditional adverts, and online job sites; the whole process becomes confusing and time consuming.

If you find yourself sending your CV to every potential job, but are getting nowhere, it’s time to self-critique your own CV to make your CV jump out in the mass of applications

Here are my top 7 mistakes I see job seekers make that is hindering your success.

Spelling and grammar

Obvious? You’d hope so. You don’t need to be a copywriter but you do need (at the very least) to spend the time running a spell-check on your CV, and better still asking a friend with very good English language skills to read (and re-read) to ensure your CV is error free and grammatically correct.

Skills and Experience

Any job you apply for you requires you to have at least some of the required core skills and experience for the job. It’s fine to refer to transferable skills, and it’s your responsibility in your cover letter and CV to make reference to this. You can’t expect the hiring manager to connect the dots; with so many applications this is an unnecessary waste of their time.

Connecting your Cover Letter and CV

If you are (and you should be) tailoring your CV and cover letter for each application according to the requirements of the job, then make sure the skills you refer to are detailed in both documents. Adapt your CV to the role you’re applying for, highlighting keys areas of expertise. Often you’ll have an array of experience across multiple roles so making your documents tailored to the job in question is worthwhile because it’s easier for the reader to establish your suitability.

You do not want disconnection between these two documents, as the question arises “which is accurate”. Any doubt on accuracy leads to questions around honesty, integrity and transparency and inevitably will lead to “no thanks”. In a candidate-rich market the hiring manager won’t spend time speaking to you to figure out which document is accurate.


This is a no-go area. You will be found out at some point in the recruitment process or even after accepting a job, and invariably you will end up sacked and back in the job market, worse off, as this does put you on the recruitment agency “do not use” blacklist. (Yes, this does exist).

Timelines and Essays

Hiring Managers like to see what you’ve done throughout your career and how you’ve got to where you are. They want a high level overview of your career story, but not via a biography. Focus on the last 5-7 years or 2-3 jobs in concise detail and then minimize the rest. It’s important to make sure your dates are in chronological order, where gaps can be accounted for, acknowledging time spent travelling or raising a family is absolutely fine.


It will not make you look super cool or super intelligent using jargon and industry-speak that the Recruitment or HR Manager doesn’t understand. Be mindful of who could be conducting the first sift before your CV gets in the hands of the hiring manager. You need to fit into the culture of the company, not just the department you’ll be working in.


Point made.

Check your CV now and make sure you’re not falling at the first hurdle.

Your CV is representing you, before the company gets to meet you, the purpose of a CV is to open the door and get you an interview. Therefore, it’s a worthwhile investment of your time and money to create an effective CV that gets traction and responses immediately.

Connect with me if you’d like support on creating professional documents, for faster and more successful results in your job search.

About Rebecca

Rebecca Grainger is a well-respected career mentor, known for her integrity, positive attitude and straight talking approach.  Combining 12 years of international recruitment experience with formal coaching methodologies, mindset principles and strategic career consulting, Rebecca is passionate about empowering women to transition careers and change jobs, with confidence, clarity and ease.

FlexCareers offers a free 30-minute introductory meeting with our FlexCoaches, to help you establish if coaching is right for you. You can contact Rebecca through FlexCoach here.


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