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Common CV Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Written by: RICS Recruit
Published on: 20 May 2019


Your CV is your first chance to make a good impression with a potential employer. It’s often one of the most important elements in the early stages of an application, and the smallest detail can determine whether you’ll be shortlisted.

Here are a few common mistakes you want to be sure to avoid on your CV.

Spelling and grammar counts

You’d be surprised how many CVs are sent in to recruiters riddled with typos and simple errors. Spellcheckers often aren’t enough, either – just try running “Its you’re responsibility not there’s” through one.

Writing is an important skill for almost any role, and employers will be judging your CV’s spelling and grammar. Make sure you go over yours at least once before submitting it, and have someone else double check it if you can.


When it comes to CVs, less is more. This goes for the descriptions of your previous roles as well as the overall length. You don’t want your CV to look like a large block of text – try to keep things short and to the point. Remember, you can always add more details in your cover letter.

It’s important that your CV isn’t more than two A4 pages. Make sure the experiences and skills you include are the most relevant and recent. No one needs to know about your paper round, and handing in a thick CV will do more harm than good.

Going general

It’s a common misconception that one CV is all you need on your job search, but just as your cover letter should be tailored to each role, so should the CV. Depending on the vacancy, certain experiences may be more or less relevant, or you may want to add in more details about a previous role.

A good trick is always to rename your CV for the role – for instance, call it “John_Smith_CV_Quantity_Surveyor” instead of “John_Smith_CV”. It’s a subtle reminder to yourself to adjust it to fit the role, and it shows the employer that you did so as well.

Leaving out a personal statement

CVs can be rather bland, so it’s important to add a bit of your personality to them. A personal statement at the top is a great way to do this. It should comprise two to four short sentences about you, the kind of role you’re seeking, and why you’re applying.


If sitcoms are to be believed, everyone lies on their CV. But unless you want to be laughed out of the room, lying is a definite taboo.

Lies or even exaggerations will always be caught out, often as early as the interview phase. It’s best to be honest and try to put forward the best true version of yourself.

Mind the gaps

Gaps in your employment history will make employers wonder, and they’ll probably imagine the worst.

If you do have a gap, it may be worth explaining. Were you taking a course during the time, or was it due to parental leave? A little clarification will help put employers’ minds at ease, you don’t need to go into detail.

Focus on achievements not duties

When writing job descriptions, it’s always good to emphasise the results you achieved. Employers will want to see how you used your skills in previous roles, and highlighting things such as improving efficiency or increasing revenue is always a good idea. Be specific, and use numbers to back up your statements.

Complex layouts are confusing

It’s always best to use a simple, straightforward layout for your CV, especially in a profession such as surveying. Black text on a white background and very little else is the way to go. Make your CV easy to read and let the content do the heavy lifting.

Unprofessional email addresses

Most CVs are submitted electronically, as are responses to your applications, so it’s important that you don’t use a silly or arbitrary email address – “” looks much better than “” or “”.

You should also make sure your email address and other contact details, are correct, up-to-date and easy to find at the top of every page. There’s nothing worse for a recruiter than not knowing how to contact you.