6 CV Mistakes That Ruin Any Application

4 minute read

Looking for your next job in the charity sector? If your job search isn’t going as well as you’d hoped, there could be one key reason for this – your CV just isn’t cutting it!

The key to a successful job search is a flawless, well-written and highly targeted CV. After all, it’s your first chance to grab the recruiter’s attention and secure an interview. 

Let’s take a look at six simple CV mistakes which could be affecting your chances and explore how you remedy these for a more successful job hunt.

6 CV Mistakes That Ruin Any Application

1. Not tailoring your CV

When hiring, recruiters look at a huge number of applications. That means they know what a generic CV looks like, and you don’t want to get passed over because your CV didn’t do enough to stand out.

If you aren’t tailoring your CV to the specific company and role, it says to them that you’re not that interested in their position – instead, you simply want any job you can get. This definitely won’t leave a positive impression on employers. It’s vital that you tailor every CV you submit to the specific industry, company and role you’re applying for.

Before you even start writing your CV, commit to carrying out some thorough research on the company and reviewing the job description. Your overall aim should be to match the candidate specification and prove that you’d make the perfect match for the organisation.  

Got a specific charity you want to work for? This is the perfect opportunity to show them that you’ve done your research and that you’ve got a connection to their cause. It will go a long way, trust us.



2. Not using keyword effectively

Keywords can make or break your CV. If you don’t use them at all, the recruiter might find it harder to see why you’re a good match for the role – especially if your CV is being reviewed by an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) in the first instance.

On the other hand, stuffing your CV with too many keywords can make you look amateur and unprofessional. Remember, the content needs to read well, so don’t shove words in for the sake of it.

Instead, read through the job description and highlight any of the desired skills or qualities you possess. Use these carefully throughout your application to get the balance just right. If you match the role, this should come across quite naturally in your CV.

6 CV Mistakes That Ruin Any Application

3. Including irrelevant information

Your CV should be no longer than two A4 pages; even better if you can keep it to just one. This means you simply don’t have the space to cover irrelevant information.

You need to include only the skills, qualifications, hobbies and employment history that are actually relevant to the role you’re applying for. Sure, it may seem like a good idea to show them that you’ve been working steadily for the past five years, but the part-time job you had when you were sixteen may not actually add anything to the application.

For example, do you volunteer for a charity in your spare time? If so, that’s great for your charity CV. However, the recruiter probably doesn’t need to know your favourite hobby is fishing.

That’s not to say that you should avoid showing transferrable skills. So maybe you worked in hospitality while you were studying, some of those skills you gained there might make you a good candidate for a fundraising role. Just be careful about what you do and don’t include, because it’s the first impression a recruiter will have of you.


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4. Choosing an unclear layout

 The layout of your CV is so important. You need to keep it clear and concise, using small paragraphs and bullet points where appropriate.

Recruiters are time-poor and so they need to be able to quickly scan your application and find the information they need. If you use an unclear layout or font, big blocks of text and little-to-no subheadings, the recruiter is going to throw your CV straight out.

Fancy designs can catch the eye, but you don’t want them to distract from what you’re actually trying to say. If you’re thinking of jazzing your design up a bit, it’s always good to search for a template or use a CV building site. That way, the template is already set up to allow you to include the correct information.

6 CV Mistakes That Ruin Any Application

5. Not giving examples

It’s not enough to just give a list of your key skills. You actually need to show how you’ve used them in the past. Otherwise, the recruiter has no real way of understanding how you can benefit the company.

The best way to explain why you’re right for the role is by providing examples of your past achievements and quantifying these where possible.

For example, instead of simply stating you’re a great communicator, you could write: “Listened to upwards of 30 calls a day on the charity helpline in order to offer the best advice to callers.”



6. Spelling or grammatical errors

Last, but certainly not least, you must make sure you proofread your application before submitting.

 If your CV is full of spelling and grammatical errors, it can look unprofessional or like you didn’t care enough about the role to bother re-reading your application.

Proof your CV several times before applying and perhaps even have someone else look over it just to be sure.


Don’t let these mistakes ruin your CV

These mistakes are easy to make, especially if you’re new to the job search.

Take on board the six CV mistakes outlined above and how to fix them. This will ensure you write a strong CV which will turn heads and help you land your next charity role.

Andrew Fennell

Andrew Fennell is an experienced recruiter and founder of CV and careers advice websites StandOut CV and Job description library, as well as being a regular contributor to sites such as CV Library, The Guardian and Business Insider.

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