Warning signs in a CV

1 minute read | 25 February 2022

CVs are typically crucial pieces of information, as they provide background on the candidate, as well as insightful information about their personality.  

We hear the same feedback from recruiters and hiring managers; many people just do not know how to write a professional resume and tend to make simple mistakes which can easily be avoided. However, even for an experienced employer, sometimes it can hard to identify the warning signs. Therefore, we have outlined some CV red flags to help you on your recruitment journey.  

No format 

The first thing any hiring manager notices when regarding a CV is the layout. 
If a CV is not in chronological order and has out of date sections, it makes it significantly harder to comprehend the professional and academic experience of the candidate. Likewise, if the typeface is hard to read and the characters are either too small or too large, the sloppy appearance shows a lack of professionalism.  

No contact information  

Contact details are one of the most important pieces of information in a CV. 
With no contact information or basic details, it is impossible to reach the candidate and therefore impossible to hire them. If these details are missing from the CV, it shows they did not consider how they will be contacted, which shows a lack in professionalism and attention to detail. 

Lack of customisation  

If a candidate is using the same CV to apply to various positions, you can most likely tell. 
When a CV has not been tailored to the role, it can imply a lack of effort which could potentially show in their work ethic. All details included in a CV and cover letter should be relevant for that job. A hiring manager simply does not have the time to read about experiences which do not apply to the role. 


Resumes should not exceed two pages in length. If the resume is too long, it makes relevant information and experience difficult to identify, and therefore harder to understand whether the candidate is qualified for the job.  
For most roles, it is highly valued to show initiative and recognise essential information. A CV displays an initial impression long before a potential interview, so if the candidate does not display these skills, it can be a cause for concern.

Lack of examples  

Lack of examples and vaguely worded job summaries are one of the most common warning signs on a CV. The candidate should always be as specific as possible when describing their work, which should include previous job experience and a description of their role. If this is lacking in a CV, it is a major warning sign. 

Furthermore, if their dates of employment are not specific, this causes confusion for the hiring manager. Being transparent with the timeline, as well as gaps in employment is appreciated and shows honesty in the candidate. 

Gaps in employment  

Gaps in employment and/or education are the most worrying signs for recruiters when regarding a CV. There could be valid reasons as sometimes personal issues can result in a gap in employment or a pause in education. If this is the case, it is important as a recruiter to explore this further with the candidate. 

On the other hand, gaps may be problematic due to a criminal conviction or a job where something went wrong and led to termination. Of course, it may be completely innocent and involve career breaks for various personal reasons, time out to travel, parental leave, or illness. Therefore, it is always important to consult with a gap analysis specialist during your recruitment process. 

Ideally you want candidates who are positive, can utilise their time and can highlight what they have done during their break from employment, if the reasons are valid. If they have nothing to show for this period, it can give a bad impression about their work ethic and overall personal drive. 

Additional considerations: 
  • Grammar and spelling mistakes  

  • If the CV is written in the first person 

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