Working abroad has a number of great benefits. It helps you to grow as a person, you can learn new skills and best of all it looks great on your CV! But how do you go about securing a job in the first place?

Well, your CV is going to be your strongest tool when you’re on the job search. So you need to make sure you get this right. This means avoiding some of the common pitfalls that many young job hunters fall into.

To help you do this, we’ve pulled together a list of five things that employers hate to see on a student's CV. So before you apply to any role, make sure you’re not guilty of the following:

A lack of research

During the job search, it can be tempting to put together a generic CV and fire it off to several roles at a time. Do not do this.

Recruiters can spot a generic CV from a mile away and this can make you look lazy and unprofessional. It also suggests that you’re not really serious about their specific role and company.

As such, you need to make sure that you’re doing your research beforehand and tailoring every CV you submit. Believe us when we say, the recruiter will be able to tell if you haven’t done this.

Your CV will quickly give away your lack of research. So make sure you read the job description thoroughly to see what skills the employer is looking for. You should also do some research into the salary, company, required skills, education, and the marketplace as a whole.


Employers hate to see a CV that doesn’t include any achievements because these give you a chance to show them how you can add real value to their company. Source: Piero Cruciatti/AFP

No extra-curricular activities

As you move through your career you may choose to forgo the “hobbies and interests” section of your CV but when you’re a student, neglecting to include any sort of hobbies or extra-curricular activities could cost you the role. After all, you might not have a huge amount of previous experience behind you and including extra-curricular activities can make up for this.

This gives you a chance to show off your transferable skills. For example, do you coach a football team and therefore have great leadership skills? Or perhaps you write for the student newsletter and have excellent communication skills. This section also gives you an opportunity to show off your personality and what you’re passionate about, so don’t neglect this.

No achievements

Employers hate to see a CV that doesn’t include any achievements because these give you a chance to show them how you can add real value to their company. So whether you’re discussing your education, volunteering, work experience, or extra-curricular activities, it’s simply not enough to just list a few of your key responsibilities.

Instead, make sure you highlight some of your key achievements and quantify these where possible. For example, you could include:

  • Educational awards
  • Examples of how your volunteering has made a difference to others (perhaps the amount of money you raised)
  • Work-related awards such as employee of the month
  • Extra-curricular awards or achievements

Poor spelling and grammar

One of the things employers hate to see most on a CV is poor spelling or grammar. This can look sloppy and unprofessional and suggests you didn’t pay careful attention when writing and proofreading.


Read your CV over several times before submitting. Source: Juan Barreto/AFP

So before you submit any CV it’s important that you read it over several times. It can also be useful to have someone else read it to see if there’s anything you missed.

Bad formatting

Finally, you can do everything right, with plenty of research, including the most relevant achievements and solid proofreading, only to let yourself down at the final hurdle — the formatting of your CV.

A badly formatted CV can be just as off-putting as a poorly written one. So when it comes to the layout of your CV, there are several things you need to do.

Be sure to use headings, sub-headings, and bullet points to organize your text, and don’t try to choose any quirky or distracting fonts. It’s best to stick to something classic like Times New Roman in font size 12. Going much bigger or smaller with your font can also be distracting, so don’t try to cram in too much text or use huge bold headings to fill the space.

As a general rule, it’s best to stick to a traditional CV format and to keep everything well-structured and easy to read. By doing this and by following all five of our tips above, you can avoid some of the common pitfalls students fall into and create a strong CV that will get you through to the interview stage.

Andrew Fennell is the founder and director of Job Description Library and StandOut CV, two leading UK careers advice websites. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes career advice to publications like Business Insider, The Guardian, and The Independent.