Top 8 Worst Graduate CV Mistakes Of All Time

graduate cv mistakes


Are you making these common CV slip ups? If so, these blunders may cost you the interview and get your resume thrown out…

In this post, we’ll show you:

  • Why One Tiny Mistake Is 58% More Likely To Get Your CV Thrown Out
  • What Makes Hiring Managers Reach For Anti-Headache Tablets?
  • How You Can Avoid Making These Common Mistakes And Secure An Interview

So you’ve managed to track down a fantastic graduate job, and the hiring manager is interested in you – good stuff. Now it’s time to send your CV. But wait a minute. Before you put pen to paper, make sure you don’t make these frequent mistakes.

They will kill your chances of getting an interview, and ultimately of getting a grad job fast:

Here’s a brief list of what to NEVER put on your CV

1) Unprofessional Email

As your contact details are usually at the top of the CV, your email address is one of the first things an employer will see. Unsurprisingly, an unprofessional email does not inspire confidence.

For instance, the email address Darren_is_an_idiot@ (actually a modified real life example!) evokes images of this:

Unprofessional Email on cv

When you want to be aiming for this:

decent graduate
Some great examples I have seen in my time as a recruiter (slightly modified to protect identities)
Whilst ‘joke’ or ‘novelty’ emails might be funny around friends, amongst employers it just doesn’t look good and will seriously hurt your chances of landing a great graduate job.

Stick to your name instead e.g. Darren_Smith@ instead of Darren_is_an_idiot@ will look much better, and will get your CV the right kind of attention.


2) Terrible Format That Makes Your Eyes Bleed

bad format might as well set fire to your CVThere is no better way than to metaphorically set fire to your CV than to adopt a bad format.

Unless you are a you are applying for a creative role such as a graphic designer where a different format is either expected, encouraged or tolerated, don’t bother jazzing up your CV and stick to a conservative format.

awful cv format

Bonus tip: In general, it’s very hard to go wrong with a tried and tested formula such as the following:

  • Your CV should be on A4 paper
  • No more than 2 pages long
  • Use an Arial 10 font
  • Black writing on White Background


3) Lies, Lies, Lies

lies on graduate cvCV’ s are supposed to be a brief representation of our professional selves, so there is a lot of pressure to make a good impression.

Many of us will try to put ourselves in the best possible light and somewhat exaggerate our achievements but some folks take that mild exaggeration and turn it into barefaced lies.

untruths on resumeWhen I was still a recruiter we had a great CV that came in for a new role. I remember talking to my colleagues about how fantastic this chap was.

At first all of us were impressed by this guy, he looked like he had all the qualifications and skills for the job, and the cherry on top was that he seemed like a really driven person – he talked about having completed an Ironman marathon in Lithuania.

Luckily we had a veteran triathlete in the office who immediately caught onto his porky pies: turns out there is no Ironman in Lithuania. Whoops. We scanned his CV for more irregularities and found plenty more. The outcome? His CV went straight to the bin.

According to a Careerbuilder survey: “Half of employers (51 percent) said that they would automatically dismiss a candidate if they caught a lie on his/her resume”

Please don’t lie on your CV – it’s not worth it.


4) Spelling Mistakes


“I Speak English and Spinach
“I’m Very Competitive And Love To Whine
“Hobbies And Interests Include: Ruining Cooking Tennis”

spelling mistakes on graduate resumeWe’ve all made spelling mistakes at some point or other and whilst you can laugh them off anywhere else, on your CV atrocious spelling makes you look incompetent and incapable.

For instance, if an employer reads ‘I have greet kommunikashion skills‘ on your CV, they’re not going to believe you, and not only that, they won’t even give your CV a chance as 58% of CV’s get trashed because of one spelling mistake.

Luckily, it’s an easy problem to solve: a quick once over via spellcheck and you should be good.

Just to give you a heads up, the Telegraph recently identified the top 10 most misspelled words:

In order, the words that most often contain mistakes are:
1) Responsibility
2) Liaise
3) University
4) Experience
5) Speciality
6) Communication
7) Achievement
8) Management
9) Environment
10) Successful

Be careful, and use spellcheck!


5) Waffling: AKA Going on and on and on and on and on

no-paragraphsJust looking at the above is giving me a headache.

Not providing enough information is bad, but writing too much on your CV is worse.

Waffling discourages the hiring manager (or anyone else looking at your CV) from reading further – at least not without a glass of water and a stash of anti-migraine tablets.

anti headache tablets

Instead, keep it clear and concise like the CV below

cv example


6) Not Including A Personal Statement On CV

no personal statement on graduate resume

It’s easy to underestimate how vital it is to have a personal statement on your CV: after all, it’s only a few words that no one looks at – might as well leave it out, right?

Nope, that couldn’t be more wrong, as the humble personal statement is arguably the most important part of your CV.

It’s the bit that hiring managers will read first: a well written personal statement will motivate them to take an interest in the rest of your CV.

A poor personal statement, or not having one at all, will encourage them to bin your CV – so make sure to include one!

Please note: There will be a new post on personal statements coming soon, so watch this space!


7) Using Slang

slang on your CVAs mentioned, your CV is a paper representation of you – at least in your working life.

Although I would love having ‘slaying all my targets‘ or ‘calling all my boys‘ as an example of self motivation and organisational skills, slang on your CV is not the way to go. It makes us look unprofessional and questions your credibility as a university graduate.

Even though slang is a lot of fun (got my recruitment game ON FLEEK!) there is a time and place for all that and your CV just isn’t it.


8) The Same Old Cliches

cliches on graduate resume

 ‘think outside of the box’
‘team player’
‘detail oriented’
‘problem solver’

Oof. Because are literally thousands of graduate CV’s out there with these tired old phrases, saying you are a ‘team player’ or ‘detail oriented’ without backing it up with an example doesn’t mean anything.

Unfortunately it just makes you look like you aren’t able to think for yourself and that you’re unoriginal. Not a good way to stand out.

One of the most important tasks in securing employment is to distinguish yourself from others. Therefore these kind of cliches do serious damage to your chances of impressing a future boss.

Instead of writing down the same worn out phrases as everyone else – be original in your content, have something unique to mention, then write it down and highlight it.

Ensure you emphasise everything that makes you stand out from the crowd of other grads, it will go a long way in getting you a graduate job fast.

What about you? What do you think is the worst mistake on a CV ever?

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If you enjoyed this post, you might like:

The Single Most Important Question You Must Answer For A Successful Job Search
7 Practical Ways To Smash Through Fear and Anxiety When Job Hunting
Why Your Graduate Job Hunt Will Fail Without This Simple Action

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