Do you wonder what happens on the other end of your applying process when your CV is in the hands of the recruiter? Would you like to know the secrets of what makes recruiters place certain CVs in the "call for interview" stack and others in the "rejected" pile?

Here's your insider's guide on things that recruiters red flag, and how to replace them with items that recruiters consider gold.


Recruiters are experts at detecting fabrications on CVs. Fabrications are, of course, a euphemism for falsehood.

One telltale sign that you've written a lie on your CV is the presence of inconsistencies.

Inconsistencies might include things like:

  • You claim to have an advanced degree in business, but your job history shows you've worked the night shift in a chipper for the last three years.
  • The dates on your CV indicate you were somehow able to be in two places at one time, effectively violating almost every natural law in the universe.
  • Your CV states you were a finalist candidate at a top solicitor's firm, immediately after which you accepted a job as a secretary at an insurance company.

What to do instead:

Be honest, even if every fiber of your being wants to lie.

Your honesty will help recruiters find you a job that really suits your actual skills. It will help you sleep at night, too, knowing that potential employer will be clear about what you can - and can't - do.

Errors and Omissions

If you make errors and omissions on your CV, a document which, presumably, you've had in your possession for years, thereby giving you unlimited opportunity to tweak to perfection, recruiters will assume you are incapable of producing quality.

Don't forget, recruiters have a reputation to protect.

They will only recommend candidates who will reflect back favorably on their ability to spot qualified, professional personnel.

Errors include spelling mistakes. Omissions include blank periods in your job history, during which it could be easily assumed that you were spending time in the pokey for employee theft.

What to do instead:

1) Pay for a proofreader to ensure your CV is free from errors.

2) Explain breaks in employment. Trekking off to Thailand for a year to find yourself is valid evidence that you are a spiritually conscious and adventurous person. Having a missing year in your life on your CV is reason for suspicion.


As much as we all appreciate uniqueness and variety in everyday life, this isn't the impression you should be going for on your CV.

Wear the virtual "uniform" of standards on your CV. You want to stand out for your expertise, not because you look like a weirdo on paper.

Recruiters don't want to take a chance on an oddball or someone who might not fit in. Don't be offended by not being able to display your unique individuality on paper.

No one will ever infringe on your right to hang out at the nudist colony on your off-days.

CV oddities might include:

  • Your CV has a background image of a centaur.
  • Your CV is printed on linen. Not linen paper. Actual linen fabric
  • You've listed all your personal interests, including your collection of antique dolls.
  • You wrote your CV in the form of a letter instead of the standard format.

What to do instead:

Save your creativity for brainstorming meetings at your next job. For now, follow standard CV formatting and job history outlines according to the norms in your country.

As the following article looks at; check out these “Ten things not to put on your CV” (info graphic) for even more things to avoid.

Recruiters and employers are human beings, and like all human beings, they like people best when they can find similarities.

Keep these tips in mind and your CV will cut a quick path to the interview stack on the recruiter's desk.

As a recruiter, what are some red flags you see when checking out applicant qualifications?

Photo credit: Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

About the Author:Kate Supino writes extensively about marketing and best business practices.

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