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The biggest CV disasters to avoid

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I was sitting with my 13-year-old sister going over a draft of her first ever CV, when I came across the following phrase: “I have been dancing since I was five.”

This sent my mum and me into fits of laughter, imagining her dancing without pause for eight years. My mum explained that, as an employer, comments such as those are what keep her going when trawling through endless boring CVs. Unintended meanings in CVs provide a good laugh for whoever is reading them, but they also result in your CV being immediately resigned to the rubbish bin.

I remembered a talk we were once given in school where an employer told us about one CV she received where someone applying to a law firm had written, “I would like to enter the oldest profession in the world”, which, of course, instead of meaning law, actually means prostitution.

So here is my partly informative, but mostly hilarious guide to things to avoid when writing your CV. After all, you don’t want your CV to make it onto lists like these.


Typos don’t make you look good at the best of times, but in certain situations they can be downright hilarious. See these examples from various social media sites and forums:

  • “I have had sex jobs so far”
  • “I enjoy cooking Italians and Chinese”
  • “I speak fluent English and Spinach”
  • “I am great with the pubic”

Alternative CVs

Using crafty alternatives to the standard CV layout is apparently a big no-no. Every piece of advice I’ve ever read about CVs has said it suggests to the employer that you lack the content in your CV to get the job. Here are some examples of people going too far trying to make their CV stand out:

  • “One applicant used coloured paper and drew glitter designs around the border”
  • “One applicant tried to make an impression by using four different fonts, three ink colours and a variety of highlighting options”
  • “Candidate drew a picture of a car on the outside of the envelope and said it was the hiring manager’s gift”
  • “One candidate included CipArt on their resume of two cartoons shaking hands”
  • “Candidate included a letter from his mother”
  • “Candidate wrote résumé as a play – Act 1, Act 2, etc”
  • “Candidate included naked picture of himself”

Email address

Using a professional email address seems like common sense, but apparently one applicant used pornstardelight@******.com. Know your audience?

Putting yourself down

You definitely shouldn’t be doing yourself down to employers, and yet people actually do:

  • “Planned new corporate facility at $3 million over budget”
  • “I am very bad about time and don’t mind admitting it. Having to arrive at a certain hour doesn’t make sense to me. What does make sense is that I do the job”
  • “It’s best for employers that I not work with people”
  • “Instrumental in ruining entire operation for a Midwest chain store”


Equally, arrogance is not going to be welcome:

  • “Let’s meet, so you can ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over my experience”
  • “I have guts, drive, ambition and heart, which is probably more than a lot of the drones that you have working for you”
  • “My plan is to become Overlord of the Galaxy!”

Wacky hobbies

Consider which hobbies are a bit too weird to shout about:

  • “Personal interests: donating blood. 14 gallons so far”
  • “Have not yet been abducted by aliens”
  • “Mushroom hunting”
  • “National record for eating 45 eggs in two minutes”
  • “Career break in 1999 to renovate my horse”
  • “Playing with my two dogs (they actually belong to my wife but I love the dogs more than my wife)”

Try to keep away from these blunders and you should be fine. Finally, as ever, you can never check your CV too many times for spelling and grammar mistakes!

What other biggest CV disasters have you spotted? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo: kevin / Flickr

I’m an Editorial Manager with an English Literature degree from Warwick University. I love writing about travel, careers, and vegan baking. For more info and to get in contact about freelance writing opportunities, visit
Samantha HoppsThe biggest CV disasters to avoid

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