Stop Making These CV Mistakes!

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Want interviews? Then stop making these 5 CV mistakes

Last week a Facebook friend shared a photo of job seeker Gerri Spiers who, in sheer frustration, had taken to standing at various London stations sporting a sandwich board.

Thinking her gutsy (because there is no way I’d do that!) I shared the photo on LinkedIn. Within moments of posting the picture, Kate Ball popped up and said how fabulous she is… but her LinkedIn profile didn’t reflect this at all! So thinking her CV wouldn’t either, I called her.

Gerri Spiers CV mistakes


Her CV was as expected, sadly. And Gerri is far from alone in having a resume that is a disaster zone.

They are far from easy to write – it’s hard to blow your own trumpet. And there is just so much cr*p information around telling you what you should and shouldn’t do!

Gerri had received advice from a company working with the Jobcentre but it was outdated. Her CV had become a dull list of skills and she was confused. Gerri’s didn’t have all of these, but these are the 5 CV mistakes I regularly see.


1. Your CV is focused on you

“Huh? But it’s my CV….”

Yes, of course it is but this CV mistake is about your opening statement. The company doesn’t care what you are looking for… they care about what value you’re going to bring to the company and whether your skills are what they need.


So we changed:

A highly motivated, confident individual with exceptional multi-tasking and organisational skills. Able to exhibit confidentiality, discretion, tact, diplomacy and professionalism when dealing with HNWIs, CEOs and Directors. Possessing a proven ability to help them to make the best use of their time by dealing with their secretarial and administrative tasks. Ready and qualified for the next stage in a successful career. Currently looking for a suitable PA position with an ambitious company/person.



Accomplished Personal and Executive Assistant with a wealth of experience supporting Lords, Knights and other high net worth individuals. A confident, discrete, professional and motivated individual with a proven ability to create time efficiencies and iron out creases. Experienced working in-person and remotely, both domestically and internationally.


With seconds to grab attention, tell them who you are and instil confidence. I have done that here with the use of accomplished, wealth of experience, and proven – because this is true of Gerri. You’re applying for the role, so it’s a given that you’re available.


2. Your CV contains too many personal details

When I started out in my career it was expected that we would detail full address, home number, D.O.B., etc but, please, don’t do that now. You don’t really know where your CV will go online, so protect yourself and only add your mobile and email address. Add your city if location matters to you.


3. Your CV is a list of skills

Which means recruiters and hiring managers are going to be underwhelmed and close it in seconds. This is the biggest CV mistake I see by far!

The easiest way to ensure your CV is engaging is to think, “so what?” as this will bring out the benefit of doing whatever it was you did. [Thank you Papa Smurf for teaching me this!]

For example, we changed:

  • Organised an overseas event for all Directors, including liaising with global leaders. 

To what it actually was – an interesting project! Sure it’s longer – but it’s her recent valuable experience and easy to scan.

  • Project: World Economic Forum, Davos Switzerland
    • With little notice and zero margin for error, organised back-to-back meetings with high net worth individuals for the Chairman and 2 Directors.
    • Gained diary access and, liaising with over 100 PAs to people like the Heads of Google and Facebook, successfully secured meetings.
    • Calmly dealt with last minute schedule changes and challenges surrounding booking venues for VIP meetings, surpassing the Chairman’s expectations.
    • Kept accurate record of contacts and declines, and ensured the Chairman and Directors had information packs, including photos and email correspondence, prior to each meeting. 


4.  You’re ageing yourself

This won’t apply to all readers, obviously!

Personally, I don’t care if a CV is 2 pages long or 4 pages long, but I do care if I am reading it and thinking, “I was in 6th class while he/she was doing that!” …because I am a 70s baby.

Ask yourself the question, “does what I was doing 12 years ago hold any relevance to the role I am applying for today?” No? Then take it off and simply add “Early career history available on request.”

I understand we’ve all been drilled into thinking that HR will reject us if we don’t add everything and have gaps but park that idea. It’s 2014, we are all time poor.

Use your CV to get you in the door. Use a modern font, space it out, keep it concise but benefit led… and if HR ask for more information, tell them, in person.


5. The little things…

  • Full stops at the end of bullet points.
  • Typos.
  • The wrong their, there, or they’re or similar.
  • Missing capital letters.
  • Missing commas, apostrophes and so on.

Easy to solve!

Read it out loud – every single word. Ask someone else, like an older friend or relative, to read it – out loud. And don’t rely on spell checker.


What have I missed?

Probably plenty. Writing a resume is personal and everyone has an opinion on what the greatest CV mistakes are…. so, when reading your CV, ask yourself this final question, “Would you hire you?”

Within a day of refreshing Gerri’s CV and LinkedIn profile, she has gained interviews and is getting plenty of positive feedback. I’ll keep you posted on progress!



>> Take control of your job hunt and get off the emotional rollercoaster with All The Secrets Of Social Job Search