Curriculum Vitae : Format Mistakes to Avoid

Curriculum Vitae : Format Mistakes to Avoid


Curriculum Vitae: Why It Is Important to Avoid Big Mistakes

In previous posts, we have discussed some basic themes about your Curriculum Vitae (from here CV) and how to build up an ordered structure for it. Also, in case you were not paying attention, a few weeks ago we published another post talking about the importance of having all your documentation prepared and updated so that you can easily apply for any grant or position you want.

This is a follow-up post to which we will go deeper into these issues and start to talk seriously about the most common mistakes that would undermine your position when applying for grants or during a personal interview. Today we will start with the very basics. What we could call “CV 101”. Focusing with special attention in the kind of formats that you should avoid and also the decisions you will have to make when writing your personal information.


About the format

The format of your CV, as we stated in our previous post, will somehow define your chances of being selected, as well as define you as a candidate. If your résumé looks tidy, ordered, and follows a defined structure it will always be easier for you to achieve your goals. On the other hand, if your skills, previous experience, and academic records are disordered and presented with no structure at all, you will be most probably discarded the first. Here are some basic examples of mistakes you should avoid from the very beginning when writing your CV:


Too much text

Obviously, you need to write and explain the important things that make your CV appropriate for the selection process. But at the same time, you have to keep in mind that the person reading your CV will read maybe a hundred more that day. Quick suggestion try to make his or her life easier by writing only the necessary, but always enough. This is a difficult step, but being able to synthesize what you need to say in a skill we all must develop. Say more with fewer words.


Poor organization

Choosing the structure for your CV is up to you. Depending on the case you might consider more appropriate to order it by year. Maybe building a structure with your academic records first and then your professional experience (as in the Europass format we previously discussed). Follow with other skills and additional qualifications. As said, that is up to you depending on your situation, but always keep a structure. The people responsible for judging you will be making an opinion based solely on the information you give them, and this opinion and image they will have of you will be better if your CV has an easy to follow structure, rather than being a mess of data, skills, and qualifications.



[Your CV Is Not Your Life! 5 Steps To Understand Your Professional Path]

[Curriculum Vitae: The Core Of Your Applications]

[CV: 5 Content Mistakes To Avoid]


Lacking a professional email

If you are still using your old email account for everything, maybe it would be a good idea to create a new one for these occasions. It might just sound as a matter of protocol, but e-mail addresses like [email protected] do not help much to improve your image. Try a new address, something simple, and sync it with your smartphone. This way you will receive instant notifications of the really important emails you receive and that account –hopefully- will never be full of SPAM.



Nowadays many people recommend some fonts rather than others. It is typical to read that Times New Roman or Sheriff are somehow old-fashioned and overused. Instead of those, they now recommend using Arial as a more formal and neutral font style. I will not recommend a concrete font for your CV but try to avoid the ones that make the reading process more difficult. Also, do not use very colorful styles; try to keep it elegant and neutral. Needless to say, that no one should ever use Comic Sans for his or her CV.



I will not stop here much. We already talked about this extensively in our previous CV post. Review your document, the whole document, at least twice or three times. Make sure there are no typos and no grammatical errors. A CV is a small and uncomplicated text. If we have these kinds of mistakes here: what should the judges think about or value in their company or as a student?


Age and photography

This is part of your personal information, but we will consider it as an issue of the format. Shall we include our age and photography as well as other information like marital status? The answer, as usual, depends on the situation. In regard to your marital status and other very personal information, the answer is usually no, do not include it on your CV unless you are instructed to do so.

Nowadays it is widely accepted that you should avoid including a photo in your CV. The same applies to your age and even your gender. This has a good explanation: avoiding discrimination. This is especially useful in order to give the same opportunities to women and men, or to older and younger applicants. Again, be careful with this step because in some cases you will be instructed to write your age, gender, or to give a photography if it is necessary for the selection process.



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To finish

With this small list, we have covered almost every single basic mistake that you could make in the format of your CV. Always keeping in mind that it should be correct, elegant, simple, and so straightforward. In the following post. We will keep working on this, but this time focusing on the content of your résumé, rather than the style.  Obviously, a CV with a perfect style and bad content are useless, but also useless would be a CV with good content but full of typos and no structure at all.

See you in the next post and remember that if you are enjoying our blog you can help with our project by following us on Facebook and by giving your opinions in our web page. Help us and we will keep helping other students like you. Also, remember that if you have any specific query you can leave a comment on this or any other post and we will give you personalized feedback.

Take a look at the second part of this post CV: 5 Content Mistakes to Avoid

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Written by
Juan A.
Biólogo y Máster en Neurociencias nacido y moldeado en el noroeste ibérico. Alma de científico y naturalista recluida en un cuerpo de Homo sapiens. Fundador del blog de divulgación 'Iguanamarina: Divulgaciones, en plural' y colaborador habitual en el blog de EDUopinions.

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