Key CV myths to avoid if you’re applying for a new job

CV expert Emma Alkirwi outlines some of the common myths about CVs and jobseeking.

Blank CV with mouse, pen and clock on a desk next to a keyboard


There’s a lot of advice out there about CVs, but a lot of it is not accurate. The CV Guru highlights some of the key myths out there that you should avoid when you apply for your next role.

Myth #1: Your CV should include your entire job history

When you have a lot of experience, it can be tempting to list every position you have held on your CV to show how well-rounded a candidate you are.

Not only will this make your CV far too long, but including your entire job history also won’t give you the space to provide any detail about your experience.

When highlighting professional experience for a senior-level role, keep it relevant to the position. As a rule of thumb, focus on experience from the last 10 to 15 years with detail about significant achievements. Anything earlier than that is unlikely to relate to the role you are interested in applying for now.

Myth #2: You shouldn’t address a career gap on your CV

Everyone has their own reasons for taking a break in their career. Harvard Business Review lists the most common reasons as:

· Caring for children or partners or other family members

· Travel

· Further education

· Redundancy

It’s important to acknowledge career gaps in a CV. It helps ensure employers don’t make assumptions about why you spent time out of work, which they may do if breaks are omitted altogether.

A career gap doesn’t mean you aren’t suitable for a role. Briefly explain any gaps clearly and professionally. If it’s relevant, demonstrate that your career gap was beneficial for your development – for example, if you spent some time carrying out volunteer roles.

Myth #3: ATS stops employers from looking at your CV

The rise of Applicant Tracking Software allows recruiters to more efficiently sort through applications to find candidates who match the keywords they’re looking for. Like every technological advancement in the job market, there are a lot of concerns about how this affects job seekers.

Of the most common myths surrounding ATS, the most prevalent concern is that this software cuts out the human element of the hiring process and stops employers from seeing your CV.

In reality, ATS gives employers more time to analyse the CVs that they’re sent. With the right format and keywords, you can make Applicant Tracking Software work for you.

To give our clients the best chance of getting invited to interview, The CV Guru team always ensures our documents are ATS-compliant in terms of presentation and key words.

Myth #4: You should include a photo on your CV

Although expected when you are applying for jobs in certain European countries, we do not recommend including a photograph of yourself on your CV when you are applying for jobs in the UK.

Not only does a photograph take up valuable space on your CV, but they are not considered scannable by ATS. Therefore by including one, you may harm your chances of your CV passing the first round of application screening.

If you have a professional photo, make sure you use it on your LinkedIn Profile. The majority of employers will check this during the application process to find out more about you and your experience.

Myth #5: You must include references on your CV

You should not include specific references on your CV for a few reasons.

Much like an image, the inclusion of referee information takes up space on your CV which should be used to demonstrate why you are the ideal choice for the role. Additionally, the inclusion of contact information can lead to prospective employers contacting your referees repeatedly and unnecessarily, which may lead to a less favourable reference.

Of course, you must have referees lined up when applying for jobs. However, references should not be needed in the early stages of the hiring process, so there’s no need to share them until you have a conditional offer.

Rather than including any personal information, simply use the line “references available upon request” at the end of your CV document.

Myth #6: You can write a top-quality CV using AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming an essential part of the job market. While the technology has some benefits for job seekers, generative AI tools like ChatGPT should never be used to write a CV or Cover Letter.

We previously tested ChatGPT by asking it how to structure a CV and found that many of the tips provided were outdated and incorrect. These tools also tend to create generic content which at best won’t help you to stand out from the crowd, and at worst may falsely represent your skillset depending on the prompts you put in.

AI should be used to check spelling and grammar once your documents are complete, but it can’t create a high-quality, bespoke CV that impresses potential employers. Rather than spend time trying to best utilise these tools, we recommend you instead write your CV yourself so you know the information included within it is accurate and truthful.

We hope that this blog has cleared up some of the myths around CV writing. By avoiding these common assumptions, you can craft a bespoke and relevant CV that shows potential employers why you’re the right person to join their team.

*Emma Alkirwi is the Managing Director of the CV Guru which is the leading service provider of professionally written CVs, LinkedIn Profiles, cover letters in the UK and they also provide specialist consultancy services.   If you feel like professional help may be of value to you, CV Guru’s team of CV Writers offer bundles that include a tailored CV, a LinkedIn Profile and a Cover Letter matched to the job description and your level of experience. Find out more about their services here.

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