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What Not to Put on Your CV

When it comes to securing that dream position, your CV can make all the difference. Candidates should see their CV as a marketing tool that needs to stand out amongst others, as this will often be the first impression that any potential employer has of you.  

As application processes become more advanced, many businesses, both large and small, are using greater automation control to screen CVs. This enables employers to filter out all of the irrelevant applications quickly to be left with only potential successful candidates. Therefore, it is crucial that your CV is constructed in the right way and presents the information that is needed. It needs to be tailored to the position and the employer that you’re applying for, focusing on relevant experience, qualifications and skills.  

We often talk about all of the things that should go on your CV, but we very rarely discuss what not to put on your CV. That’s why we are here today. To go through some of the things that you need to AVOID putting on your CV to gain the best possible chance of a successful application.  

Read on to learn more! 

What Not to Put on Your CV



Top things to avoid putting on your CV 


Offering irrelevant personal information  

Depending on where you live, the personal details which are expected to be on your CV will differ. Here in the UK, we always avoid putting a photograph, our date of birth, nationality and marital status. We also try to avoid adding our social media accounts, including Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. At a stretch, if you have a professional, up-to-date LinkedIn profile where employers are able to learn more about you, this can be a sensible edition that may make you stand out from other applications.  

Consider the position that you’re applying or and how your interests and achievements relate to it. For example, involvement in sporting activities would be an advantage if you’re hoping to land a career within the sports sector or activities where you engage with your local community if seeking work in the charity sector. Other activities that highlight demonstratable transferable skills and values are also desirable to employers.  


Making important information difficult to find 

Burying useful and relevant information is just as bad as providing irrelevant information. Your CV will offer very little time to impress, therefore making the right information stand out on your CV is vital. A great way to do this is to offer this information in bold and persuasive language. 


Spelling, grammatical and punctuation mistakes  

Before submitting your CV, ensure your spelling, grammar and punctuation are all correct. Double-check that you are writing in the correct tense and are sticking to it throughout the document. If you struggle to identify errors, contact a careers professional or friend to look over your CV or use free spell-checking software such as Grammarly. 


Misleading or exaggerated information  

If there’s one thing you absolutely need to avoid putting on your CV is lies. Employers are very good at spotting information that doesn’t quite add up. Some of the things that they always tend to keep an eye out for are: 

  • Achievements  
  • Qualifications  
  • Salaries  
  • Job titles

More often than not, employers will conduct vigorous background checks on candidates before pushing their applications further. Therefore, something that you think is just bending the truth to aid your application could well end up being the things that trip you up. 


Unexplained gaps in your work history  

One thing that will guarantee to raise questions from your employer is unexplained gaps in your employment history. This generally makes employers nervous so the best practice is to ensure your employment history is full. 


Adding references  

References at the end of a CV is always a debated topic, however, it is best to avoid adding these as they are generally requested further along the application process. Getting as much useful and relevant information on your CV from the get-go is very important and references take up much-needed value space. 


Long, waffly information  

It’s important to keep your CV as concise and to the point as possible. Make sure that it is no longer than two pages of A4 unless you are applying for an academic position.  

It’s good to focus on your most relevant and recent achievements and experiences. Think about all of the things that you have demonstrated in previous roles that your employer would be interested in. They want to read a tailored CV that is focused on transferable skill, experience and achievements. This applies to qualifications too. Avoid adding outdated courses or programmes that you haven’t kept up-to-date. For example, if you completed an HTML course 1994 but haven’t used the skills since, then it’s probably not the best idea to add it to your latest web design application. 


Bad formatting  

Nowadays, thanks to the advancements in technology, your CV is more likely to be seen on a screen before it is printed out. Therefore, it’s vital that it is correctly formatted so it is easy to read on any device.  

Things that help with formatting your CV correctly are: 

  • Using fonts such as Arial or Calibri at size 11 or 12 
  • Use italics, bold text and colours sparingly  
  • Avoid using borders and boxes that can distract from the content  
  • Uploading your CV as a PDF for greater reliability  


To summarise, your CV has an incredibly tough job. It will most likely end up in the hands of the recruiter for a very short period of time. To give yourself the best chance of it being read properly, you need to make sure that is first ‘looks right’. If you do this at least, you will have a greater chance of a second look from the employer. It is then down to you to offer all of the information the employer is looking for. If you do this, not only will your CV look good, it will BE good and you’ll have one foot firmly in the next round of the application process.  


For more information on CV’s and other work-related topics, be sure to keep an eye out on the HRS blog, as well as our social channels where we post regular updates to help you secure your dream position as well as offering insights into the world of work!  

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