Stuck for ideas on how to give your CV that breath of fresh air?

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How to avoid those terrible CV clichés...

By Paul Sykes, Senior Managing Director at Michael Page

You’re hard-working, you’re organised and you’re great at working in a team. Employers have heard it all before and they’re getting bored of it. When you’re writing your CV you should always be asking yourself, ‘is that relevant, is this different – and would this make me a good fit for the job?’

Simply saying you want the job because you are keen to start your career and learn new things, is not enough to get it – this should already be a given. It can often take an employer or recruiter less than half a minute to decide if your CV  is for the ‘keep’ pile or the ‘no’ pile. You have that long to make a good impression! Imagine your CV is a personal advert for an employer – just as you would get bored of seeing the same advert on television every day, they will get tired of reading the same clichéd phrases on a CV too.  Keep it original, relevant and make sure to show your personality, but under no circumstances should you lie – employers will always find out. 

Things to avoid

There are a couple of words and phrases that have become a total no-go for CVs because they have been so overused that employers are now immune to them. Here are some of the top ‘buzzwords’ to avoid:


·       Team player

·       Motivated

·       Detail-oriented

·       Communication skills

·       Results-driven

·       Dynamic

·       Entrepreneurial


If you’re tempted to list these skills on your CV, pause and think, would anyone applying for the same job say they don’t have these skills? Probably not. There’s nothing wrong with saying you have strong organisational skills if they are a ‘must have’ for the role, but don’t forget to give examples; describe a time in your life when such a skills has come in useful and made a difference. Always back it up your points with evidence.

Corporate speak

Steer away from filling your CV with business jargon to try and sound more professional, it makes reading your CV a boring task and your aim here is to engage the reader, not put them to sleep. Your CV needs to hook its reader immediately with relevant and interesting information. Sometimes keeping it simple is more effective. For example, if your first job was a paper round don’t say you were a ‘media distribution officer’. This won’t enhance your skills and experience and more often than not, it confuses the reader who may not understand the role you’re actually describing.

Pick and choose

Always keep a copy of the job advert close by, this will help you keep whatever skills are required for the role front of mind when you write your CV. It is also worth taking a look at the language used in the jobspecification and taking some time to research the company’s values. This will give you more of an idea of what they are looking for in a candidate. You can also mirror their language (use some of the same key words they do) to show you’re in tune to what they’re looking for (but don’t mistake this for quoting word for word what they have said).

Word of warning

It goes without saying that one of the biggest sins you can commit when it comes to CV writing, is listing ‘attention to detail’ and then failing to carry out a full spell check, resulting in spelling errors or typos. Always remember to proofread your CV several times because errors in your writing could lose you an interview

Sound simple? Good luck! 

Careers, UniversityEmily Baulf