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Top 10 ways your CV annoys recruiters

Have you ever wondered why recruiters don’t reply to your job application? Perhaps you’re submitting your CV for jobs that are a perfect fit but not hearing a peep in return (or, at best, a polite “thanks, but no thanks”). Are these recruiters blind? What could you possibly be doing to turn them off?



Well, I’ve been doing some research to find out the most irritating things recruiters see on CVs. This is the Top 10 mentioned by Recruiters and HR Managers… avoid them at your peril!



  1. Spelling and Grammar Errors – far and away the most popular gripe. It shows lack of attention and time spent on the document.  This is the biggest turn off so make sure you don’t work at ‘Goldman Sucks’ or interact well with ‘steakholders’. Ask a trusted contact to proof read your CV or application form.
  2. Photos – on the whole photos are a definite no-no for UK recruiters. Save the holiday snaps and wedding photos for Facebook. Even professional headshots aren’t welcome.
  3. Cheesy phrases that add nothing of value – do any of these apply to you: excellent interpersonal skills, working well on your own or as part of a team, relishing a new challenge…? Recruiters could play the equivalent of boardroom bingo with these. Everyone uses them so you’re not setting yourself apart or telling your contact anything of value.
  4. Dear Sir – or Mr when you’re addressing a woman or vice versa. If you’ve got access to the Hiring Manager’s name then get it right. If you can’t take care doing this then you’re not likely to hear back.
  5. Obscure formatting – different fonts, line spacing, random capitalisation… Not only does this make your CV look like a ‘cut and paste’ job, it makes it difficult for the recruiter to extract the relevant information. Given that they have to sift through hundreds of CVs every day, make it easy for them!
  6. Lack of quantifiable achievements – avoid churning out your job spec. Outlining your specific contributions or achievements will create a stand out CV and make it easy for the recruiter to justify calling you or putting you forward for that all important interview.
  7. Irrelevant information or experience – you’re a waitress applying for a procurement role, or a credit controller going for a PR job… why? Career changes are acceptable but outline why you’re looking to change and what relevant skills you have. Your CV should be tailored, if it’s not you’ll be deemed a time-waster (worst case scenario, some recruitment companies will blacklist you!)
  8. Generic cover notes – the internet is awash with template cover letters and emails. Recruiters have seen them all and they get pretty tiresome. Again tailor this to your skills and the relevant job spec.
  9. Gaps in employment – if you have any, they’ll be spotted a mile away. To avoid the inevitable question address these gaps from the outset.
  10. Too much or incorrect personal information – date of birth, marital status, religious beliefs; this is all optional information and grounds to be discriminated against. Recruitment companies also need to delete it before your CV can be submitted to the client. Help reduce their admin burden! Worse still, ensure your contact details aren’t out of date. Out of service phone numbers or old emails are so frustrating for a recruiter that loves how you look on paper and wants to get in touch.


So there you have it, avoid these 10 CV irritants, become a recruiter’s best friend and get your job search back on track. Good luck!




ISV.Online is the leading supplier of skills testing software and services to the UK Recruitment Industry.  Used by 9 of the top 10 UK agencies, by number of offices, and 7 of the top 10, by revenue, ISV.Online offers candidate skills assessment and evaluation software and online training tools, allowing agencies and in-house HR/recruitment teams to validate the skills of potential candidates and existing employees across a wide range of areas.


Top 10 Ways Your CV Annoys Recruiters

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