Bad CV Examples and How To Fix Them (With Tips to Draft a Good CV)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 26 November 2022

Published 29 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Your CV is your first introduction to a potential employer. Before meeting you, recruiters use it to get to know you and learn about your experience, skills or education. Crafting a well-written, clear and thoughtfully designed CV is a critical step in receiving a job interview invitation. In this article, we present common bad CV examples to avoid and give you additional tips on how to maximise your CV to impress the recruiter.

What is a bad CV?

A bad CV fails to present your experience accurately and highlight your skills that are relevant to the job you're applying for. When a hiring manager or recruiter reads a bad CV, they may think that you need to work on your attention to detail and immediately choose to move to another applicant on the list. Ineffective CVs may be hard to read and irrelevant or distract the reader from focusing on your talents and qualifications.

Related: 6 Universal Rules for Writing Your CV

Bad CV examples

Here are some reasons that a CV might not be fit for purpose with some bad CV examples:

Low readability

Low readability makes it hard for the recruiter to read through your CV and find relevant information. If the quality of your writing on the CV is poor, it's hard to understand if you're a qualified candidate. An example of low readability is using long sentences and stuffing them with jargon that fails to make an impression on the recruiter.

Distracting format

An effective CV is typically well-organised and presents information in an aesthetically pleasing way. Many applicants who want their CVs to stand out make the mistake of choosing distracting fonts and including too much information on one page. This may make the document feel crowded. To avoid that, be sure to include plenty of white space around all sections of your CV to make it easy to read and find information.

Related: CV Format Guide: Examples and Tips

Poor appearance

If your CV looks nice, you may increase your chances of making a good first impression on the recruiter. If you're delivering a physical copy of your CV, be sure to print it on white paper and store it securely to avoid ink smudges or stains. It's also important to protect the paper from ripping, for example, in public transportation. This is to make sure the CV represents your best interest and highlights your essential qualities, such as professionalism and presentation skills.

Unprofessional email address

Including an unprofessional email address on your CV may not be a good idea, especially if you're applying for a senior role or a position at a large firm or corporation. Therefore, avoid using nicknames and funny email addresses. Instead, consider creating a new one that would feature just your name and surname or a variation of those. For example, a good email address example for an applicant whose name is John Smith would be john.smith@email.com or jsmith@email.com.

Creating one CV for many jobs

Another mistake that many applicants make is creating just one version of their CV and submitting it to many different jobs. It's typically a better idea to make your CV content relevant to the role you're applying for. You can achieve that by pulling keywords from the job description and using them to describe your qualifications or skills. This way, the recruiter knows that you're committed to getting that job and that you've taken the time to prepare for the recruitment process.

Poor spelling and grammar

Although a small typo can happen to anyone, submitting a CV that has poor spelling or grammar may fail to impress the recruiter. To make sure your document is error-free, you can use a free online spell checker. The tool can rate your writing style and suggest useful edits that can help you polish your CV contents.

Irrelevant information or skills

Many applicants who struggle with creating a skills section on their CV tend to choose irrelevant or general skills. A bad skills section typically looks like this:

Skills

  • Basic computer skills

  • Communication

  • Graphic design

To make sure you avoid this mistake, be sure to list more advanced or applicable skills. You can even pair each skill with a tool that you're proficient in, for example:

Skills

  • Content creation and management using digital publishing software

  • Managing a team of freelancers using team management software

  • Basic coding in HTML and CSS

Overusing keywords

Although pulling important keywords from the job description is a great method to beat applicant tracking systems (ATS), overusing them is not recommended. Be sure to limit the use of keywords and consider using each only once on your CV. Doing this can help you make the document organised but still show a potential employer that you've prepared and made yourself familiar with their requirements.

Too long

A standard CV is typically one to two pages long. Be sure to stick to this length by keeping the contents of your CV concise. Remember that most recruiters have only a few minutes to scan your CV, and it's important that they can find relevant information during this time.

Related: How Long Should a CV Be?

How to fix a bad CV to impress the recruiter

If you feel like your CV or some of its elements need fixing, here are some useful tips that can help you impress the hiring manager or recruiter and increase your chances of getting a job interview invitation:

1. Focus on your strengths

To ensure your CV presents your true talents and qualifications, consider focusing on highlighting your natural strengths. If you're unsure about that, you can consider making a list of things or tasks that you've always enjoyed performing and analyse them. For example, if you enjoy working with people and thrive in customer service roles, communication and interpersonal skills might be some of your strengths. Similarly, if you're someone who prefers working on their own remotely, your strength may be that you can easily work independently with little to no supervision.

2. Back up duties with accomplishments

When working on your work experience section, be sure to make the best out of it by highlighting your professional accomplishments. When you list a particular duty, consider pairing it with a relevant work accomplishment, for example:

Digital store manager, So Cool Digital Ltd.

  • Managing and building the company's online community, including a 50% increase in followers in the first year.

  • Designing and implementing ad campaigns that helped the company double the revenue in December 2020.

  • Designing user experiences, which resulted in a 20% increase in returning customers.

3. Improve CV readability

Improving readability is an important step that can make your CV appear more professional. To achieve that, consider using short sentences and easy to understand words that clearly explain your skills or duties. It's also useful to separate CV sections to avoid including large chunks of text in them.

4. Chose a simple CV template

Choosing a proven template to draft your CV can save you a lot of time and help you make sure you present your qualifications in an organised and appealing way. Although more graphic CVs can be ideal for creative jobs, such as UX or graphic designer, choosing a minimalistic template is typically a safer option. A simple template doesn't distract the recruiter and gives them a chance to focus on what matters the most: your skills, achievements and qualifications.

Related: CV Template for a Successful Application

5. Make your CV relevant to the job

One of the best methods to increase your chances of getting noticed by employers is to create a CV draft and add to it every time you're applying for a job. Remember that changing careers or looking for a new job typically takes a few weeks or even months, which is why most people submit to multiple open jobs at the same time. Making each application unique and relevant to the specific role is a great way to show respect and position yourself as a professional and decisive candidate.

6. Review your CV

Reviewing the CV is an important step that can help you ensure that your CV is well-written and presents you as a highly-skilled candidate. Consider reading through the document several times to apply any final touches. You can also ask a friend or family member to do it and give you their objective opinion on how your CV looks and if it's effective enough.

Related:

  • How To Email a CV to a Recruiter (With Examples and Tips)


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