CV no-nos: Ten things not to include if you want the job

A slick CV is the first step to wowing future employers – or at least landing an interview. 

A slick CV is the first step to wowing future employers – or at least landing an interview.  Photo: Getty

Writing a resume can be annoyingly time-consuming and fiddly. 

But making the effort to craft a slick CV is the first step to wowing future employers – or at least landing an interview. 

Here’s 10 common mistakes to avoid, and what to do instead.

Mistake #1: Not proofreading your CV

In the rush to fire off a CV, many people neglect to give their document a thorough once-over.

Career coach Paul Di Michiel, of The Career Medic, says spelling mistakes or typos are a bad look, and might give the impression you’re lazy.

“It’s all these negative inferences or connotations, which may not be true. But if I’ve got 1500 resumes to look at, it’s an easy way to dismiss one.”

He suggests using a free program such as Grammarly, or doing a simple spellcheck on Word (ensuring you’re using Australian spellings).

A second set of eyes is also a great idea.

Mistake #2: Overusing certain words or phrases

Di Michiel says it seems like everyone these days is ‘‘passionate’’, ‘‘enthusiastic’’ or a ‘‘fast learner’’.

It’s not to say you can never use such words, he says, as long as you do it selectively. 

Better yet, try to find more original descriptions.

Mistake #3: Including your date of birth

Once, you might have included your age on a CV, along with details such as religion, your marital status, address and whether you’re a parent.

However Nicole Wren, the owner of resume writing business, Resumes to Impress, says none of that information is relevant to whether you can do the role. 

Instead, it can be an opportunity for employers to discriminate against you.

You’re much better off focusing on using your CV to showcase your skills, experience and qualifications, she says.

Mistake #4: Offering detailed information going back more than 10 years 

In most cases, the detailed part of your resume should focus on recent experiences, says Wren. 

But some people are tempted to draw on more historic accolades.

One previous client of ours had listed some of her primary school awards in her resume – despite being over 40!”

If you had a job 20 years ago, for example, that’s relevant to the role you’re applying for, you can include a brief mention. 

“Maybe a key achievement or two, but certainly not the detail that you’d be going into for the other more recent roles,” Wren says.

Mistake #5: Including a photo

She also usually recommends against a happy snap. 

“Omit your photo unless it’s explicitly required in certain industries, such as modelling or acting,” she says.

“Particular jobs might need it, but most jobs you wouldn’t, and once again, it’s that opportunity for discrimination unfortunately.”

Mistake #6: Trying to be a stand-up comedian

Damien Andreasen, a vice president at human resources company HiBob, says a CV isn’t the place to showcase your stand-up skills. 

Skip the titles like ‘coffee-brewing virtuoso’ or ‘multitasking maestro’. Leave those gems for social gatherings,” he says.

What to do instead? 

“Be specific and provide examples that demonstrate your value to employers,” he says. “Show – don’t just say – what sets you apart and why you’re the right choice for the job.”

Mistake #7: Using old-school fonts

You may not think so, but fonts matter. Photo: Getty

You might not think much of it, but your choice of font matters, notes Di Michiel.

If it’s too small, or difficult to read, it can be off-putting.

“Also, older-style fonts (for example Times New Roman) may also convey that someone is ‘more mature’ and therefore out of touch and not contemporary.”

He says you can’t go too far wrong with fonts such as Calibri or Arial, which are familiar to many people.

Mistake #8: Including that Hotmail address from 1998

Likewise, avoid including Hotmail or Yahoo email addresses, says Di Michiel.

“I often say to my clients who’ve been around like me – set up an Outlook or Gmail account because it’s more contemporary.”

Mistake #9: Mentioning hobbies 

Wren says it used to be common to include hobbies or interests on your CV, but this is no longer necessary.

Only include hobbies if they are applicable to the job.

“For example, if you’re applying for a graphic design position, mentioning your interest in photography could be relevant.”

Mistake #10: Using outdated terms on your cover letter

Skip the ‘Dear Sir/Madam’, says Wren. 

“Particularly nowadays in terms of not knowing people’s pronouns … I tend to just use the person’s name if they have it in the job ad,” she says. 

“So if they’re Brendan Jones, I would say dear Brendan, rather than Mr Jones, because you just don’t know.”

If there’s no name listed, something like ‘Dear recruitment team’, or ‘Dear HR team’ is appropriate, she says. 

Lastly, don’t forget to mention why you’re interested in the position. 

“Just a short sentence explaining why you want to work in the role really stands out to employers.”

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