What should not be included in a CV?

Andrew Fennell Andrew Fennell

When it comes to writing your CV, space is precious, and you need to carefully select every piece of information you do – or do not – include.

For every unnecessary piece of information you leave off your CV, you free up space for relevant and interesting information that will help to persuade the recruiter that you’re a good fit for the role.

But how do you know what information you should include on your CV and what needs to be left out at all costs?

That’s exactly what we’re here to tell you. For job hunting success, make sure that you don’t include any of these unnecessary or controversial elements on your CV:

 

 

Your date of birth or age

Think about it… Does your age affect your ability to do the job you’re applying for? Presumably not, or you wouldn’t be applying.

This means that not only is including your age an unnecessary waste of space, but it also opens you up to possible bias or age discrimination on the part of the recruiter.

The same goes for including your date of birth. You might have thought about popping this in with your key information at the top of your CV, but any recruiter will be able to work out how old you are based on your date of birth.

The only dates you should include on your CV are your years in education and the dates of your previous employment. These other two elements should be left out.

 

Your full address

There are a number of reasons you might think your address needs to go on your CV; perhaps the employer is looking to hire someone in a very specific area, or perhaps this just completes your contact information section.

However, you absolutely do not need to include your full address because it will take up far too much room on your CV, and recruiters do not need to know your exact door number.

By all means, include the city or town you live in if the recruiter is looking in a specific area, but if not, you’re better off saving the space for something more important and relevant.

 

do not include a photo on your CV

 

A photo of yourself

Some more modern CV templates and designs leave space for a photo of yourself, but this is simply not necessary in the UK. Your photo will take up far too much valuable space, and the way you look doesn’t have any impact on your ability to do your job (with a few exceptions, which we’ll discuss in a minute).

This can also open the recruiter up to unconscious bias, and unfortunately, this could mean that you don’t get invited in for an interview.

Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule that are worth noting. Photos on a CV are standard practice in some countries – so if you’re applying for jobs in places like the US, Scandinavian countries, Asia and multiple European countries such as Austria, Belgium and France, then you might wish to include a photo.

Similarly, in some industries, a photo might be needed for obvious reasons, such as acting, modelling or social media influencer’s CVs.

But short of these few exceptions, it’s generally best not to include a picture on your CV.

 

CV builder

 

Political views

Unfortunately, political views can often cause tension in a room, so it is best that you don’t include any of these on your CV. For the most part, these are going to be completely irrelevant to the job and aren’t going to support your CV in any way.

Not to mention that people can feel biased against those with opposing political views, rightly or wrongly, which could mean your CV ends up on the rejection pile if the recruiter doesn’t agree with your opinions.

What’s more, even if you believe that your political stance might be in some way relevant to the role, it is still best to leave these out in the first instance. You can always discuss these later with a recruiter during the interview stage, but don’t destroy your chances early on by including your political views on your CV.

 

Poor grammar

One of the final but most important things you need to do when writing a CV is to double-check your spelling and grammar. After all, if you’ve spent hours carefully choosing your words and perfecting the content, the last thing you want to do is let yourself down with a silly spelling mistake.

That said, we understand that it can be easy to miss an error when you’re reading your CV for the sixth time. But remember, bad grammar could cost you your shot at the job; it looks sloppy, unprofessional and could damage your credibility.

In order to avoid this, you should read and re-read your CV multiple times, use an online grammar checker if possible and even have someone else read over it for you. A fresh pair of eyes can be just what you need to spot any mistakes you’ve missed.

 

skills graph CV

 

Skills graphs

The development of easy-to-use graphic design tools, as well as the desire to stand out in a crowded job market, has led to lots of job hunters adding design elements and graphs to their CVs. Some of the most popular are skills graphs.

While these may look pleasing to the human eye, they aren’t going to do you any favours because they don’t actually tell readers an accurate description of your skill levels.

Instead, you should avoid the temptation to be quirky or too creative, and clearly explain your skills in words and numbers to make it easier for the recruiter to understand. For example you could just write;

  • “8 years experience using Excel”
  • “Level 5 nursing qualifications”

 

CV format

 

Overcomplicated design

It’s important that you don’t use any sort of overcomplicated design on your CV. This means avoiding elements such as crazy colour schemes, huge borders, images or graphs.

If you overcrowd your CV, use a tiny font or add confusing colours or imagery, you can distract the recruiter from what is actually important – the content. That, or they might not even attempt to decode the difficult format.

It’s important to remember that recruiters are busy people, and they don’t have the time to spend trying to unravel and read through your overcomplicated CV. This means they’re likely to just put it straight on the rejection pile.

So instead, be sure to use a clear simple layout, add headings and sub-headings for navigation, and bullet points and small paragraphs to break text up. Also, be careful to choose an easy-to-read font that is big enough for anybody to read.

 

Lies

It is completely natural to want to embellish on your CV if you think it is going to help you land a job you really want – and plenty of job hunters have done this.

Typically professionals will lie about their qualifications, job titles, skills and work experience. The problem is, lying or exaggerating on your CV could land you in hot water if you get caught. So, no matter how big or small it may be, you should never lie on your CV.

Don’t forget, recruiters are professionals, and they can spot when information doesn’t stack up. Plus, they can use your references and other background checks to make sure that all the information you have included on your CV is accurate. So, it’s best not to take the risk at all.

 

CV email

 

An unprofessional email address

Providing your email address as a point of contact is crucial when writing your CV, but it can also damage your chances of securing an interview if you aren’t careful.

Humorous, silly or inappropriate email addresses might have been funny when you were at school, but as a professional, you need to approach with caution. The same goes for shared family email addresses.

So instead of using things like sam-is-a-babe@hotmail.co.uk or thebloggfamily2018@yahoo.com it’s important that you create a sensible email address for your job search.

It’s easy enough to set up a free email address with providers like Gmail, and it’s best to stick to your name as it appears on your CV where possible for even more clarity. However, if it’s already been taken, then just choose some clear variation of your name instead.

This looks much more professional to recruiters and isn’t going to see your CV sent straight to the rejection pile.

 

Your salary requirements

Your current or expected salary has no place on your CV for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s a waste of space to include your current salary, and it also gives the employer ammunition to pay you less than they had planned – if, for example, they see you’re on a much lower salary than they anticipated.

Not only this but going in with your salary requirements as early as your CV can reflect negatively on you. It can make you look money-driven like you aren’t actually passionate about the role or business, rather you just want the highest salary you can get.

As such, it’s best to save monetary discussions for the interview and negotiation stages.

 

CV cliches

 

Generic cliches

Whether it’s your first CV or your tenth, it can be all too easy to pack your profile full of cliché words and phrases in a bid to make yourself look good. The problem is these buzzwords are overused, vague and carry no real substance.

Recruiters have seen these same words used time and time again, and frankly, they are bored of them. So it’s best to avoid cliches like ‘team player’, ‘results-driven’, ‘fast learner’ or ‘hard worker’.

Instead, focus on keywords and skills that the employer has outlined in the job description. This will help them to see that you’re a better match for the role and that you’re not just filling the space with meaningless cliches.

 

Common hobbies

The hobbies and interests section of your CV can be a tricky one. Some people like to include it while others don’t; some employers value this while others rarely glance that far down the page.

However, there are a few key rules when it comes to the hobbies and interests section of your CV.

Firstly, only include this if you have interesting or relevant hobbies. The second rule, which is very important, is don’t waste yours and the recruiter’s time listing common or generic hobbies that add no value.

While you might like to hang out with your friends or watch TV, these activities don’t say anything about you, or why you’d be a good fit for the job, so they should be left off at all costs.

Instead, if you want to include this section, you should choose hobbies that are relevant to the job or show a good skill set. For example, team sports, blogging, coding or learning other languages.

All of these show desirable skills such as teamwork, leadership, digital skills and communication.

 

Unexplained gaps

There are a number of reasons why you might have gaps on your CV; perhaps you went travelling, fell ill, were made redundant or took some time out to care for your family. Whatever the case may be, this is nothing to worry about as long as you explain it.

You certainly don’t want to include any unexplained gaps on your CV, as this can raise questions and make recruiters suspicious or nervous.

As such, honesty is always the best policy. You don’t have to give a huge amount of detail about why there is a gap in your career, just a sentence or two that briefly describes what happened is preferable to an unexplained gap.

 

Reference details

Often the last element on a CV, there was a time when people would include a whole section about their references to allow potential employers to verify their employment history.

However, while references are still important to lots of employers, there is no need to waste space listing the contact information of multiple past managers, lecturers or co-workers.

Like we said at the beginning, space is precious, and references are not often required in the early stages of the hiring process. Therefore, it is much better to simply leave this section out or put a note at the bottom of the page that says ‘references available upon request’.

This way, the employer knows that they can ask you to provide the full details once they have extended you an offer, without taking up any real space on your CV.