Why Your CV Isn’t Working: Advice From The Experts

Sending your CV off to hundreds of companies every month? Not having any success?

Job hunting can be frustrating and you may find yourself blaming everyone from the recruitment agency to the company that’s hiring for your lack of success. But more often than not, there are common CV mistakes that we have all made at one point or another that have cost us an interview.

To help you shine your CV and rid it of some of the most hated ‘fillers’ we have asked the experts: what puts you off a CV and candidate more than anything else?’

Check out their responses below.

Felix Tarcomnicu


The lack of attention to details is what forces most recruiters to ignore certain resumes. Surprisingly, many people make countless grammar mistakes on their CVs. Its common sense to understand that no one would want to invest thousands of dollars every month in someone who won't even bother to spell or grammar check his resume.

Another important factor that makes recruiters throw resumes in the trash is the deficit of qualifications. Nowadays, everyone can submit a resume online with a click of a button, and because of that, many job applicants are applying to jobs that are not related to their experience or education. I recently wrote an article on the topic of why most resumes are rejected by recruiters.

Save the Graduate is a site that's all about great quality content so I'm a real stickler for quality spelling and grammar. One of the main things that put me off a CV is any mistakes. Not only does it show that a candidate hasn't got it right the first time but it also shows a slight lack of attention to detail when they would have checked over their CV.

A CV turns me off when it’s designed to hide information. For example, the so-called “functional resume” tries to hide dates, employer names and other information. To quickly assess whether I want to read the details, a CV must be chronological and readily reveal, through the text and clear formatting, the candidate’s name, location and full contact information. It must be easy to find names of employers, locations, and dates of employment along with titles and concise descriptions of each job. If I can’t quickly gather that information, I’m done reading – unless I’ve already had substantive contact with the candidate. You didn’t ask what turns me onto a candidate – a clear discussion on each job about what the candidate “pulled off” in that job. In other words, what exactly did they do to contribute to the employer’s bottom line?

1. Using words like I, me, myself in a resume should never be done. The resume is all about showing how your achievements are a fit for the next job.

So never say in a summary statement, for example, that one is interested in a job "so I can advance my career."

It's not about you...it's about you being the right fit for the next employer and showing that through achievement and proof of accomplishments.

2. Also, another big mistake is people not including a short sentence describing the company/industry they work for or work in. Don't assume people outside your organization know the company you work for, or what they do. So after you list your job title and company, city/state and dates, list a bit about the company:

Account manager, Acme Plastics, Minneapolis, MN (2010-present)
In this sales-focused role for manufacturer of industrial-strength widgets, achieved these results:

The person reading the resume suddenly can understand:

1. Your job title

2. The company

3. A little about what your company does.

Don't leave that out.

Your summary/objective is all about what YOU want. Please don’t include a summary all about what you want and what the company can do for you. Instead, tell them what can DO for the company. This is the first section someone looks at so you want to make it clear what type of job you would be an excellent fit for and why they should call you in for an interview.

Dorothy Tannahill-Moran


The biggest mistake I see with resumes/CV’s is omitting results. Most people will outline responsibilities but don’t take it to the next logical step and that is to tell the reader your most stunning results. It make a huge impression to from: “I managed a group” to “I managed a group of 50.” or “obtained a 50% cost reduction”. Don’t make the reader guess because they won’t.

One of the most off-putting mistakes on a CV is when it has not been proofread properly. We regularly read CVs where large chunks of text don't make sense and where spelling and grammar are incorrect. You don't have a second chance to make a great first impression and it's very obvious when you have not proofread your CV. This will make the employer think that you don't care about the role you're applying for, that you have poor written communication skills and poor attention to detail.

Kyriaki Raouna


Apart from bad grammar and spelling errors, the most off-putting thing about a CV is poor structure and layout. And with competition so high, employers are paying more attention to detail than ever. Strangely most candidates still don’t understand that it’s essential to build a CV that’s visually attractive and can instantly stand out from the competition. There is nothing worse than a disjointed CV that has strange fonts, lots of empty white space and long paragraphs. Proper structure, visually appealing layout and a logical order can go a long way towards getting a job.

Allison Cheston


I would say that pomposity and self-aggrandizement in a person and on their resume is the biggest turnoff for me. This may not be intentional. For example, recent college grads can often come off as self-aggrandizing in their use of language in cover letters or resumes -- because they mistakenly think this will help make their case.

There's no question that your resume is the place to toot your horn and showcase your strengths -- but what you say has to be true.

Anyone who refers to themselves as a ninja, guru, or thought leader on their resume is a big turnoff. If you're using that kind of hyperbole to describe yourself, I'm going to assume your ego may get in the way of your work and ability to contribute to a team.

Alexandra Levit


I vote typos. They just tell you so much about a candidate: a lack of attention to detail, potential sloppiness, that the job may not be all that important to them, etc.

Trying to be funny or clever. A resume is a way to compare candidates in a similar way. You want to stand out for your experience, not your sense of humour.

CV: Sentences that don't make sense. I equate clear writing with a clear mind.