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Andrew Arkley|December 13, 2016

10 Mistakes That Make Your CV Look Unprofessional

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You might be the most impressively-qualified candidate out there, but if your CV doesn’t make the grade, you’re unlikely to get far in your job search.

Most of us know that an impactful CV full of useful, relevant information is essential to a successful job search.

But as well as all the good stuff you should include, there are certain CV pitfalls you should avoid at all costs.

Sometimes, a single mistake is all it takes to put recruiters off your CV. Fortunately, most of these mistakes are easily avoided.

Here are ten common CV mistakes that make your CV look unprofessional:

Spelling and grammar mistakes

There are some hard-line sticklers out there, and sometimes even one small spelling or grammar mistake can be enough to incur their wrath.

Don’t risk it – double, triple and quadruple check your CV for typos and grammar mistakes. Get someone else to check it over as well, just to be safe.

An unprofessional email address

Nothing screams unprofessionalism like that ridiculous email address you’ve had since you were a teenager.

Quirky email addresses are fine for your personal emails, but surfergirl937@hotmail.com won’t do you any favours in the job seeking world.

Stick to a combination of your first name or initials and surname, and a few numbers if necessary.

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Using clichés

You may think recruiters will be really impressed to learn you’re a ‘dedicated team player’.

Newsflash: you’re not the only one out there. Some phrases are so overused on CVs that they’ve ceased to mean anything.

Don’t use fluffy adjectives just to fill space. Stick to specific examples and concrete facts.

A generic CV

Sending out the same CV for every job application may seem like a great time-saving tactic, but it will cost you in the long run.

Companies want to hire candidates who really want to work for them, so show your enthusiasm by tailoring your CV to each job you apply for.

You don’t have to completely reinvent it every time – a few careful tweaks to your standard CV should be enough.

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Elaborate fonts

The wrong font may put a recruiter off before they’ve even read the first line of your CV.

Stick to something clean, professional-looking and easy to read. Overly fancy or playful fonts – Comic Sans, for example – may make your CV look tacky.

Using the passive voice

Don’t do yourself down by using the passive voice. Keep your sentences active to make the biggest impact.

Use action words like ‘generated’, ‘achieved’ and ‘implemented’. Verbs like these make it sound like things happened because of you, not to you.

Keyword stuffing

Lots of companies use software to scan applications for specific keywords related to the job description.

Some job seekers go overboard in trying to please the software, jam-packing their CVs full of keywords.

Whilst it is a good idea to include some keywords and phrases, keyword stuffing looks unnatural to human eyes.

Remember, a human will be making the ultimate decision about whether to hire you – so write your CV for them, not the software.

An inappropriate filename

Even if you have the perfect CV, a sloppy-looking filename won’t give off the polished impression you’re aiming for when it arrives in a recruiter’s inbox.

Stick to the format ‘Katie Smith CV’ to maintain a professional appearance and make it easy for recruiters to search for your CV.


The purpose of your CV is to show recruiters how your skills and experience make you the perfect match for the job.

You can’t do that successfully by being vague. When writing your job history, list specific examples of tasks and responsibilities from previous roles. Include figures and statistics to back them up if you can.

Going overboard with unusual styling

We all want our CVs to stand out – but multicoloured text, quirky bullet points and elaborate borders are not the way to do it.

Make your CV memorable because of its content, not because of what it looks like. Keep it simple, elegant and professional-looking.

For more information about how to make your CV stand out, read our blog.

10 mistakes that make your CV look unprofessional: a summary

Maximise your chances of making it to interview by avoiding these ten mistakes.

Our tailor-made CVs showcase your best skills and qualities and help you stand out from the crowd. Find out how our CV writing service can help you.

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