9 Basic CV Mistakes And How To Fix Them

At Hired By Startups we see hundreds of CV’s every day, from the perfectly crafted to the weird and not-so-wonderful.

Most CV’s we see aren’t perfect and often fall victim to one or more of the following basic mistakes which are a big turn off for potential employers. Why not review your own CV and see how many of these mistakes you’re making…


This is the most common and basic mistake to fix – terrible CV formatting. Different fonts, font sizes, bullet styles, uneven spacing, role structure etc…

It’s a super simple fix and a quick way to make your CV look better. Really take the time to make sure all formatting is standardised across our CV and you’re off to a good start in the eyes of your next employer.

A quick note on formatting – please, please, please don’t write your CV as a table in a Word doc. It’s route one to throwing off the whole look of your CV.

If you must write your CV in a table, please send it as a PDF – at least that way the recipient is sure to see exactly what you see when you send it! That’s point number two…

File Type

This is a really simple one but often overlooked. It’s best to have your CV in two formats, one PDF and one as a word doc.

The PDF is vital as it’s how many employers will want to see your CV when applying to roles directly.

It’s always a good idea to include a word version too when applying to recruiters. If you’re happy for the recruiter to add you to their database to keep you updated with other roles, a word CV will parse onto their applicant tracking system far better than a PDF and so you’re more likely to appear in their searches. It’s also likely they’ll add their logo to your CV and perhaps even convert it to their standard formatting, all of which is easier when you send a word doc.

Personally we just stick to PDF at Hired By Startups but it’s always appreciated when a candidate sends us both versions. Let’s make that point three…

Be ready to send

The process of applying to a new job is usually one that moves quickly and is mostly mobile so make sure your have your CV accessible on your phone and ready to send whenever you need it. However, make sure you balance this with…

Not tailoring your CV to each role 

This is a really quick and easy way to give yourself the best chance of progressing through to the first interview stage – just tailor your CV slightly to the actual company and role.

An opening paragraph which states you’re actively pursuing a career in a specific industry when the company you’re applying for is in another is a quick way to get your CV rejected.

Don’t bend the truth but, for example, if you’re applying to a startup in the food industry – highlighting you’re a real foodie (who doesn’t love food) would be a good idea.

Unevenly weighting roles

There are two approaches to this. Either you provide more detail on your most recent roles, or you provide more detail around your experience which is most relevant to the role. My suggestion is usually the latter but it’s up to you.

Just make sure you haven’t included ten points covering your responsibilities for when you worked at Maccy D’s during uni and then only included three covering your current role as a Sales Manager.

Not updating your whole CV

Every time you update your CV you should review your whole CV. It’s always clear when a candidate has just added on new info without really integrating it to their CV as a whole and it rarely looks good.

Including an unsuitable photo

There’s an ongoing debate as to whether you should include your photo on your CV. On one hand, it gives a face to the information. On the other, it could lead to unconscious bias.

We’re firmly in the no photo CV camp but if you do want to include one, make sure it’s a professional-ish looking profile photo. Not you on the beach, not you with a group of 5 people at a party, not a photo clearly off your dating profile, not you half-cut in the pub, not your photo with someone semi-famous and yes – we’ve seen each and every one included on a CV.

Best not include a photo at all but, if you must, just make it as professional as possible.

Too much information.

We’re, thankfully, moving towards a world where unconscious bias is completely removed from the process of reviewing CV’s, even removing candidate names from CV’s. With this in mind, why include any information which doesn’t impact how well you could actually do the job.

Does the recruiter or hiring manager need to know your date of birth, your marital status, how many kids you have, what your exact address is? Probably not, so why include it?

At most, include your name, email address & phone number and possibly the city you live in, no need for your full address.

Finally, keep it short.

Your CV is likely to be reviewed for approximately 6 seconds before the recruiter or hiring manager decides if you proceed your application to the next stage.

With this in mind, keep it short and easy to read. Try and stick to 2 pages and don’t title it ‘Curriculum Vitae’ – we all know what it is so save the space. Keep your paragraphs short, include full dates (month & year is fine) for each role and use bullet points as much as possible.

Once you’ve fixed all those basic mistakes on your CV, why not apply to something new. Make sure you check out all the startup jobs listed on our platform and apply to as many as you like!

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