Most common CV mistakes (and how to avoid them)

‘I am a hard working, reliable individual who works well both as an individual and as a team.’

So many CVs that I have seen over the years, by candidates at all levels begin like this. You really shouldn’t start your CV in the same way as everyone else. The whole point is to be different but relevant.
If you are a job seeker in your early career, then it’s important to be more imaginative. If you are experienced, then you definitely have better material than this. You just have to work on choosing it.
And this is before we even go into the repetition of‘ individual’ and the fact that you cannot work ‘as a team’, you can only work as ‘part of a team.’


Unsubstantiated claims

It’s great that you believe you are good at organizing, planning and project management. But without examples, it’s almost not worth saying.


Career objective section

Bad CV example

You should usually not have a career objective section. This may surprise some people because it is a feature on some templates (which of course, you shouldn’t use). But when you think about it, the career objective section is just a distraction from the primary purpose of your CV. That purpose is to get you selected for an interview. You do this by telling the reader how you meet their criteria. It has to be all about what you can do for them, not what they can do for you.

So, unless part of the criteria for the particular job is that you should have ambition that is not self-evident, it doesn’t need to be on. Your objective generally will be apparent, because you are seeking the job in question (and usually wishing to progress within the job).

Of course, if it is relevant to differentiate yourself based on the specifics of your ambition then go ahead.


Irrelevant objectives are even worse

It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? The concept of an irrelevant objective. An objective has to achievable, or it is meaningless. If working with others, the objective has to be shared. But believe it or not, some people state irrelevant objectives on their CV. This mistake arises from placing general beliefs such as the importance of ‘thinking big’ above the actual purpose of meeting the job criteria.

Don’t state that you want to work for a multinational company if you are applying to join a ‘one-man band’. Don’t say that you are keen to travel or live in another country if the job has no prospect of being able to offer this. And don’t state that you want to enjoy wide ranging responsibility / manage people etc. if this is not likely to be available.



There is a place for industry or professional jargon. It shows that you are a genuine part of that industry/profession and that you can use such terms confidently and accurately. But don’t use terms from another industry that have no transferable relevance to the role for which you are applying. This would make you look as though you are either not suited to the role, not committed to it or both.
Some jargon that I see is even specific to a single company. Those terms really can limit the transferability of your offering.

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CV Writer and Interview Coach. Blogging about ways to improve your CV writing and job searching experience.