6 Common Mistakes That Make Your CV Boring – And How To Make It Captivating Instead

Recruiters and hiring managers need to rapidly go through CVs from candidates with the same background and competencies, each of whom is claiming to be perfect for the job.

Sadly, this means a recruiter may NOT even bother to read your CV if it is heavy, unclear or boring – even though you are the best candidate for the post.

That is why you must create a CV that stands out, is easy to navigate and encourages recruiters to read on.

Here are 6 common mistakes that make your CV boring and how to create one that is captivating instead…

1) Failing ­To Get Straight To the Point

Job seekers often make the mistake of cluttering the beginning of their CV with long summaries of experience and lists of personal or professional competencies.

Recruiters are hunting for your experience level, achievements and suitability. They will not wade through a jungle of text to dig these out; if they cannot find it quickly and easily, they will simply move on to the next CV.

Right on top of the CV there should be a short overview or summary outlining your expertise and your career. This helps a recruiter quickly recognize your suitability for the role. The first page must also contain information about your current or most recent job.

Another mistake job-seekers make is going into lengthy explanations about how and why they are right for the job. They create long documents running into 4-5 pages. Nothing bores a recruiter more…

# Be precise and factual. Begin your CV with a short overview to give a glimpse of your expertise and to set the tone.

# Do not give lengthy explanations on why you are right for the job. Focus on giving factual details that will highlight your abilities and competencies. Stick to short sentences with bullet points.

2. Lacking A Good Design

Most job-seekers use popular templates and designs for their CV and as a result most CV’s look very similar. This makes it very tedious and boring for recruiters.

You need to be careful not to overdo the design aspect. Fancy designs with lots of colors may look immature and crude. Also, useless graphics which merely jazz up your resume does not impress anyone.

The idea is to find the right balance. The design must always be complimentary to the text. It should lay out your experience and expertise in a sleek and attractive manner. It should also draw the recruiter’s attention to what makes you the right choice for the job.

Leave enough open space between different elements on your CV. Otherwise; your CV will look cluttered and cramped with information. Give visual breaks to the text.

Lastly, remember that “hot spots” of color are visually stressful. Avoid blotches of color which distract the recruiter from the text. Don’t overdo the colors – use a single light color.

# Good designs are easily available on the internet for free.You can also create a simple and neat layout yourself.

# Use simple colors to make it attractive. Using lighter colors can be more effective than using darker ones.

# Use the same font throughout.Font size should be between 10-12 px depending on the font. Avoid using graphics which serve no purpose.

3) Cluttering the CV with Unorganized Data

Job seekers often dump all their data into a CV design without a second thought. But if the data is not effectively organized, it fails to give the right picture to the recruiter.

For example if you list all your achievements as a career summary, by the time recruiters get to reading about responsibilities and roles in a company, they have already forgotten about your achievements and cannot connect the two.

Organize the text on the CV into clear sections like overview, work experience, personal details, etc. Make sure each header is clearly visible.

The section on work experience must briefly mention your responsibilities and achievements in a short and factual manner. Nothing bores a recruiter more than going through a CV that gives meticulous details of job functions you have handled in the past.

Also DO NOT repeat the same job functions for multiple jobs. Do not cut paste the same text for each company that you have worked for. Each company needs to be presented differently.

# Sections like education, personal details, skills, proficiency and contact details must be kept separate and away from the more important sections like work experience.

# Use short sentences, marked with bullet points. Do not repeat the same information under different sections.

# Your CV should be in a reverse chronological order with most recent jobs first.

4) Littering The CV With Keywords And Action Verbs

There seems to be so much advice about keywords that most job seekers end up flooding their CV with keywords, just to be on the ”safe side”. Recruiters universally call it “Junk” and it makes reading a CV very boring.

Keywords should come naturally on a CV. For example – If you say Sales Executive, Banker, Accountant, Pharmacist, Drilling Mechanic etc, it covers your trade. Repeating it 20 times serves no purpose and just adds clutter.

Overly dramatic sentences with the excessive use of action verbs has become the ‘in thing” today.

You can use action verbs but it must be in the right context and one sentence must only use one verb. Saying you “conceptualized, orchestrated and directed the sales campaign” is an over emphasis that is not required.

# Excessive and unnecessary repetition, verbosity, grand language, and dramatic sentences do not help. Get to the point – focus on effectively presenting facts and achievements.

5) Lack of Clarity On Your Expertise

The most serious mistake job seekers make is not clearly laying out their expertise.  

Projecting expertise is about showcasing factual data on how you have contributed to the development of a process, product or company.

The simplest omissions can result in a lack of clarity. For example, a Sales Manager who has achieved a million dollar sale, but has failed to state the product and brand sold, will make the achievement meaningless.

Verbosity can also create a lack of clarity. If you go into lengthy sentences and paragraphs explaining what your expertise is then there is no focus on facts. Your expertise will get drowned in the sheer volume of text.

Use short precise factual sentences. It makes your expertise stand out more clearly. For example – “Launched XYZ product in India, Korea and Philippines and achieved a sales revenue of XYZ million USD” or “Found a new vendor and negotiated a reduction of procurement costs by 40%”.

# Make sure your CV reflects what you are capable of contributing to the company through your achievements. Quantify – be precise and factual.

6. Including General Lists That Say Nothing

Generalized lists say nothing about you or why you are suitable for the post. They waste space and will put off recruiters and hiring managers.

Many job- seekers club responsibilities or list all their achievements together in one place. Others make standard lists of their competencies and key skills (for example – “Leadership & Team Management”, “Operations Management” etc.)

Standard lists of personal attributes are also common – “excellent interpersonal and negotiations skills, “good communicator”, “quick learner” etc.

Instead, highlight you competencies and personal qualities through achievements. For example, don’t just say you are a team player, say you “led your team to deliver a project 3 days before schedule” – this clearly shows you are a team player.

Lists should only show specialized skills – If you are a software programmer, list the specialized software you have worked on or have a knowledge of. If you are a mechanic, make a section on the vehicles and equipment you have maintained.

# Use lists only for showing specialized functions or use of a specialized technology, machinery or equipment. Do not use them for general or common skills.


A boring resume is a very serious handicap. It means that even though you may be the best person for the job, your CV will get rejected for all the wrong reasons.

Does your CV wake people up? Is your suitability and value jumping off the page? Are recruiters encouraged to read on?

To know what your CV reflects to recruiters and hiring managers — get a FREE PROFESSIONAL EVALUATION AND FEEDBACK of your CV, by mailing your CV to      and get tips and advice on how you can improve the impact of your CV and boost your job search.

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