Tips to get your CV right

Getting the CV right is the crucial first phase of any job application. It’s usually the first impression a potential employer has of you, so it’s absolutely essential to project the right image. But any recruiter will tell you that the vast majority of CVs and LinkedIn profiles they see are riddled with mistakes. So if you want to write a professional CV, what should you be avoiding?


  1. Typos, spelling errors and bad formatting

Basic mistakes like this scream out that you have poor attention to detail. Run a spell-check, but don’t rely on it, go through with a fine tooth comb and make sure there are no errors. Just one typo or spelling mistake is often enough to get your CV binned, so check it twice and ask someone else to proof, preferably someone who knows their way around the written word.

  1. Using an informal or inappropriate email address

You might have got your email account when you were a teenager, it might well be inconvenient to set up another one, but no one is going to be impressed by ‘smoothoperator77@hotmail.com’. Find a better, more professional address, preferably based simply on your actual name, not a graffiti tag.

  1. Listing everything you’ve ever done, down to the smallest detail

The cardinal error is boring the pants off your target audience. Your CV is not the place to list every responsibility you’ve ever had. It’s a sales brochure, not an historical record. If it’s not relevant to the job you’re after, and if it doesn’t directly illustrate a way in which you’ve tangibly benefited your employer, then there’s no need to keep it in. Run a ‘so what’ analysis on every line. Ask yourself, is it relevant? Does it make you look good? If it fails the test, hit delete.

  1. Lying on your CV

Almost always pointless and counter-productive. While it’s fine to blow your own trumpet, if you over-exaggerate to the point that you’re in the realms of dishonesty, sod’s law suggests you will immediately be asked about that area in interview, and at that point you will very likely struggle to maintain credibility, potentially leading to severe embarrassment. Much more common than people think, and particularly absurd when the lies are about less important activities, like personal interests. Even worse when the lies conflict with an old CV or your LinkedIn profile!

  1. Making your CV too long

A typical recruiter will give your CV maybe 6-8 seconds. If it’s pages and pages of densely packed A4 they are simply going to skip it. Make it easy for them to like you. Keep the CV short even if it’s a senior executive CV, preferably on two pages if possible, and make sure the key information is highlighted and surrounded by plenty of white space.

  1. Using the same generic CV for every position

It doesn’t take long to tweak your CV to match the job description you’re applying for. Five or ten minutes, perhaps. So it is genuinely astounding how few people do this. Copy and paste the candidate requirements from the job specification if necessary, but make sure it’s clear that your CV matches their job and that you’ve taken the time and effort to make sure they know it.

  1. Death by cliché

Hackneyed, vapid or meaningless corporate drivel is the curse of the typical CV. Avoid phrases like ‘results-focused team player’ or ‘thinks outside the box’. Instead, use clear, comprehensible language to describe tangible achievements, or success stories with measurable outcomes. This will give recruiters and line managers a much better sense of what you can do.


There is no doubt that writing your own CV is time-consuming and it can be incredibly difficult to be objective about yourself. So why not employ the CV writing experts at City CV to do it for you? City CV’s professional CV writers have the knowledge and experience to help at every career stage, from graduates to senior level professionals across all industries. For more information on our CV writing services, call us on +44 20 7100 6656 or email enquiries@citycv.com.