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10 things to avoid when writing your CV – part 1.

If you’ve been out of the job market for some time – perhaps because you’ve worked your way up within the same company for many years and not needed a formal CV, or maybe because you’ve taken a career break – writing your CV/resume for the first time can seem like a minefield.  I’ve put together my ‘top-ten’ things to leave out – here’s the first five. Part two next week…

  • Your date of birth

Age discrimination became illegal in 2006, therefore age and date of birth should be completely irrelevant when applying for a job. The reality though, is that some employers still have biases, and may have views that someone is ‘too old’ or ‘too young’ for a particular role. Including your date of birth can therefore put you at a real disadvantage if the hiring manager or recruiter allows age to be an influencing factor in their CV screening decisions.

Obviously anyone with the time or inclination can potentially work out your age from other dates on your CV, but why draw attention to it in the first place?


  • Marital status

Including marital status  always puts me in mind of when I was a child and my mum used to sign letters with  ‘Mrs’ in brackets after her name.  In the same way that this is now hugely anachronistic, so is informing the hiring manager that  you’re married, single, or (completely in the realms of too much information) divorced.  It’s a recruitment agency, not a dating agency – they don’t need to know!


  • ‘References available upon request’

99.9% of employers will make a job offer conditional upon the receipt of satisfactory references. They won’t expect you to provide these upfront, but they will expect them as a matter of course once you have accepted the job. This goes in the pile marked ‘unnecessary information’.


  • Remuneration expectations

Including salary information on your CV or covering letter can put you at a huge disadvantage and may result in you being screened out at the sifting stage. Too high a salary and the recruiter will assume you won’t be interested in the job, too low a salary and they may assume that you’re not experienced enough.

Given that many job adverts now just state ‘highly competitive salary’, you may be worried that by not putting your salary expectations, you’re wasting everyone’s time. Avoid wasting your own time by trying to contact the agent (or recruitment manager if applying directly) prior to applying, to clarify the salary range. If that isn’t possible, then send your CV without stating any salary expectations. If you are contacted about the role, discuss what the broad package is at this stage. If it’s wildly out of kilter with your expectations, you can gracefully withdraw before investing any more of your precious time.


  • Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and typos

It goes without saying that these mark you out as, at best, a sloppy candidate or, at worst, as someone with poor written English. Automatic spelling and grammar checkers are not always right, so don’t rely on them. If you know this is an area where you need help, ask someone (with excellent English skills!) to proof-read your CV. Alternatively, seek help from a professional CV writer!


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