10 Common CV Mistakes, With Tips To Avoid Them


As an applicant, since it is most likely that you do not know the employer and have never met him before, your CV gives you an opportunity to show him that you are qualified for the job and have the skills and experience to get it done. Beside your Name, contact and address, every other information you include on your CV should point to this direction.

Unfortunately, only a few applicants know this. They believe the more information they include on their CVs, they more their chances of getting shortlisted, which is not the case. Here, I’ll try to highlight some of the common mistakes job seekers make on their CVs. I’ll also share some insights on how to avoid them. Stay tuned!

1.  Including irrelevant personal information.

Research has shown that the average time a hiring manager spends in reviewing a CV is 6 seconds. So it’s absolutely unnecessary to include certain personal information that will overshadow the important ones. Information like your gender, religion, relationship status are a waste of space. Here in Nigeria, you won’t be penalized much if you include them, but in developed countries like Canada, USA and UK. It’s an “UNPARDONABE SIN” to include them on your CV or Resume (American). Its discriminatory, according to them.

2. Concealing important information.

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As it’s important to remove unnecessary information from your CV, it’s also imperative to highlight important ones. Look at how your CV is designed and place those important information like Accomplishments where the hiring manager can see them easily. Using bullet points or making them bold will be a great idea.

3. Being Vague.

There are certain words or phrases you use on your CV that could leave the hiring manager confused or not give him an idea of the exact situation. For instance, “Acquired several customers for the company.” The hiring manager will be more interested in the number of customers you acquired and the timeframe within which you acquired them. Therefore, replacing the above with “Acquired over 100 customers for the company within 6 months.” Will make more sense. Use figures wherever possible to convey your message.

4. Too much employment gap.

If there’s a break in your career, look for a way to explain it on your CV. If you don’t, the recruiter may draw up his own conclusion, which most likely, will not be in your best advantage.

5. Telling lies or being economical with the truth.


Including un-existing qualifications or adding work experiences that you did not really pass through is one of the worst CV mistakes any job seeker can make. As a CV writer with several years of experience, I have had situations whereby a client will ask me to just cook-up work experiences for them. My response is always the same – “I can’t do it.” On several occasions, I have had to refund them because of this. There’s competition out there, so your CV needs to be great. But that does not mean that you have to lie to accomplish that. Experienced recruiters know a lie when they see one and will not waste time in sending your CV to the dustbin, because that’s where it belongs.

6. Too long CV.

It’s not a game of length, but that of value. It’s not how long your CV is that really matters to a hiring manager, but what you’re bringing to the table. If all the accomplishments, experience and experience is captured in a page, please leave your CV as it is, 1 page. You don’t have to include unnecessary information just because you want your CV to be 2 or 3 pages. You can imagine a young graduate who just finished serving submitting a 3-page CV. That’s an instant turn-off.

7. Unnecessary elaborate design.

Over designing your CV is tantamount to shooting yourself on the foot. Except your applying for a graphic designer role, you have absolutely no reason to design your CV. Most hiring managers don’t download applicants CVs. They just view on their system screen, so they don’t get to see all your design work – wasted effort. Another negative side to the designs is that they’ll change your CV format, making it look scattered. Some vital information embedded in your designs will even disappear. That’s another minus for you. To avoid these, keep your CV simple. You’ll find some very good templates online.

8. Meaningless introduction.

If you are including an introduction on your CV, ensure that it is a clear and concise qualifications summary. Any introduction outside this is a minus for any CV.

9. Including references.

References or Referees on your CV is a waste of precious space. What most employers do is, they’ll ask you to inform your referees to send them a confidential letter attesting to your character and qualification for the role. That is common with academic jobs. For those that are not academic, this is usually done at the last phase of the recruitment process, sometimes after you must have been given the offer. It’s part of the vetting process. So, there’s absolutely no need to include that section on your CV. What most of us do these days is write, “References available on request.” Personally, I think it’s better than including the names and contacts of your referees.

Another good reason you shouldn’t include referees on your CV is that you don’t know the hands your CV will fall into. Having been in the CV writing business, I have seen CVs with past presidents, serving senators and rep members, directors of agencies and permanent secretaries as references. Their home or office addresses, phone numbers and emails are on these CVs. And some of these big men you’re using as referees value their privacy so much that they will get mad at you when they get to find-out the extent to which you have exposed them. It could compromise their safety.

10. Poor spelling and grammar.

Nothing annoys a hiring manager more than bad grammar and wrong spellings. Outsourcing your CV to a reputable CV writer for professional help is the best option, but if you must do it yourself, then sacrifice the time to review it severally for grammar and spelling errors. You can also give your CV to your friends and close relatives for a honest review.

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About Professional CV Writer

Patrick Okunima is a professional CV writer with over a decade's experience. He's the Founder of CV Wizards (The first Nigerian company to be registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC as a CV, resume and cover letter writing firm). Patrick, through his CV writing services has helped more than 3,000 job seekers secure interviews with high-paying companies, including Banks, Consulting Firms, Multinationals, Telecommunications, and Oil and Gas Companies. Need professional help with your CV? Kindly reach Patrick on 08104502652 or via email at info@patrickokunima.com