9 Things Not to Include in Your CV

Your CV is essentially a snapshot of your achievements, designed to showcase your talents in the best way possible. Don’t ruin your chances by slipping up and making any of these easily avoided mistakes!

Here are 9 things you should definitely steer clear of when writing your CV:

1) A photograph

Unless requested, attaching a photograph of yourself to your CV looks unprofessional, is off-putting to many employers and may even (worst case scenario) create an unconscious bias against you. Regardless of whether you’re smiling or serious, casually attired or uber-smart, an image will create mixed opinions amongst those processing your CV, and may just counteract the good done by your achievements.

2) The same skill used in 5 different instances

If you’ve covered your ability to use a certain computer program or type of analysis, you don’t need to explain this same use over and again if you used it repeatedly for different projects. It is enough simply to explain the first time and state any improvements or widening of knowledge gained by further experience of this system.

3) Irrelevant experience

Whilst it may be relevant to a customer facing role, the fact that you worked in a café for 4 months aged 16 is not going to be relevant to your application to process data for a science company. Really think about which experience is most pertinent for each individual job application, and streamline your CV accordingly.

email emails

4) Your childhood email address

After scanning over a highly professional profile and deciding to offer you an interview, an employer will not be impressed to see that ‘Jennylovescats’ at Hotmail.com. If you haven’t already, create a professional email address.   Outlook is a good platform to do this on – with your name in an easy to remember format. Also try to avoid names and dates such as Oliver95, as this is a giveaway of your age and may date you as inexperienced.

5) More than 2 pages

Whether you’ve trekked the Sahara Desert, mapped a new genome or founded an international company, employers won’t want to read past the second page of your CV. The ability to concisely and coherently translate your skills and experiences into a neat package is a key skill demonstrated by the CV.

Writing in a tiny font, and squashing everything together on the page is similarly a mistake, and will mark you down for poor presentation and insufficient streamlining of information.

 6) Lies

Whilst this may sound pretty obvious, a huge amount of us lie in our CV’s. You may be telling yourself that you’re just bending the truth to present yourself from the best angle possible, but in actuality pretending you were at a certain company longer than you were, or that you had more responsibilities than you actually did will just get you in trouble.

Whether at interview or through references, liars are always caught.  Lying is one of the easiest and lowest effort ways of ensuring you won’t get that job you applied for.

7) References

Employers will ask for references if and when they want them, at a certain stage in their recruitment process. Including them with your CV just clogs up the process, gives you extra work and makes it appear as though you don’t quite know what you’re doing.

8) Epic prose

Keep things short and snappy by bullet pointing the key responsibilities of each of the larger roles you’ve had. Paragraphs of prose are unlikely to be read, and look unprofessional.

9) Unusual formatting

Unless you’re applying for a graphic design role where you know a CV with a high level of design skill will be appreciated, steer clear of quirks in your CV. Whilst a funky font, different colour or cool illustration may seem like a good idea at the time, with hindsight you will look back in embarrassment.

Catch the eye of the employer with your achievements, not by annoying them with Comic Sans.


Alexandra Jane writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in finding candidates their perfect internship. For senior roles, see the Inspiring Search page.

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