Top 10 CV Turnoffs

Here is the inside scoop from clients and recruiters on what really turns them off about your CV!


We’ve all been in the position where we want to land that dream job or even a temporary job to see you through until that perfect permanent position arises. Which means, we all know that very important first step…send over your CV.

While all CVs are different, which is a good thing; you would be surprised at the number of people making the same mistakes. By simply correcting these, you will stand yourself in a much stronger position for that all important “stand out CV” the recruiter is looking for. Don’t just take our word for it, we’ve caught up with our clients to give you the top 10 “turn offs” and how to correct them.

1) DON’T open your CV with a generic statement Example: “I am a well organised, hardworking and highly motivated individual” That’s great that you are, but say something that highlights your personality and work ethic then always bring it back to how it benefits the role you are applying for. Don’t forget to give examples, we love examples.

2) DON’T have short stints in roles. Okay… easier said than done! We know it happens, many of us can hold our hands up to moving around jobs in a short space of time in order to know what it is we want and sometimes things just aren’t what you expected. Just be sure to have valid reasons for why the short stints occurred, what you gained from each role and emphasise that you know what you’re looking for now and this particular opportunity is just that. Even as a contractor it’s good to show some longevity in a role and be able to demonstrate the impact you have had there.

3) DON’T forget good grammar Proof read, walk away, come back and proof read again. Make sure you’re using spell check but DO NOT rely on it. If you have put the wrong word in but have spelt it write (see what I did there) it won’t pick it up. Ask someone else to read over your CV, a fresh pair of eyes always helps. Remember, although grammar may have nothing to do with your ability to do a job well, do it wrong and it really makes a strong (bad) first impression.

4) DON’T forget end dates Put the dates on! It’s so important that companies can feel like they have a solid understanding of the time you’ve spent in different roles and any time you may have been out of work. If you don’t put the dates on they will think the worst!

5) DON’T be inconsistent Again, proof read! Highlight the whole of your CV and check the font and sizing matches, take pride in making it presentable, after all it is the first impression someone is going to get of you!

6) DON’T list skills you haven’t got Have a specific section for skills you’re interested in learning. For a tech skill mention why you have an interest in it and what you’re doing to learn more about it, e.g. going to meet-ups, reading in your own time, projects in your own time… Github contributions are always great! Make sure it’s clear what you’ve worked with and what you want to work with.

7) DON’T use one short line to describe your most current roles Don’t get me wrong, you don’t want an essay for every role you’ve had, but you do need to mention your top duties so the person reading it understands what you did on a day to day basis. For bonus points adapt this to each position you apply to so you can highlight anything you’ve done in previous roles that is relevant to the role you want.

8) DON’T talk about yourself in the third person Please, just don’t! To some people this can come across as pompous, to others just flat out weird! But ultimately, it will always come across as you sounding really removed from the person being spoken about. Your CV should give the person reading it an understanding of your skills but also of you as a person, make it personal! Just ‘I’, ‘my’ and ‘me’ please!

9) DON’T have a super long CV Pages, pages and more pages! It’s great that you’ve thought to list every role you’ve ever had but no one is going to go through 10 pages of CV! Make sure the last few roles are detailed and prior to that list your companies and just write one paragraph that summarises the experience and skills you’ve taken from those positions. I recommend 3 pages as a maximum for anyone, but ideally a 2 page CV.

10) DON’T leave gaps in employment unexplained A lot of people will have gaps in employment at some point, whether it’s for travelling, education, illness or anything else life may unexpectedly throw at them. That’s fine, but explain it! Companies will want to hear why there’s been a break in employment and, if applicable, what was gained from that time away. If not, they will assume you have done nothing and have no good reason for doing so.

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