Most frequent CV / resume mistakes

Most frequent CV / resume mistakes

As part of Getting Started in Product, I help people prepare their CV ahead of their job applications in so doing, I get first hand experience of the most common mistakes that are made.  

Personal statements

As a recruiter I'm a big fan of the introductory couple of lines at the top of the CV that provide a summary of who you are and what you do.

Why? If I'm a recruiter, and I have 100 applications to sift through, I will use this personal statement to help with the first triage of the CVs.

I find it:

  • Gives an insight into how the individual perceives themselves
  • Gives an indication of where they think their skills lie
  • Shows the applicants ability to communicate clearly and concisely

Get it wrong, and immediately the recruiter will have a non-favourable impression of you.

Third person writing

This is usually prevalent in the personal statement, and occurs when the applicant doesn't describe themselves using the word "I" (the first person), but instead uses their own name, as in "Rob is a product manager" (the third person).

Your CV is your document, written by you, about you.  It isn't a biography written by someone else, and so you should be describing yourself and your experience from your perspective.

Consideration for the recruiter

The recruiter has a job to do: hire a person for role X.

The applicant needs to consider this goal when editing their CV, and they should be doing all they can to make the job of the recruiter easier.

If they are looking to hire a machine learning focused product manager, then machine learning product management should be in the personal statement to set the scene, and then all the relevant skills and experience for this role highlighted throughout the CV.

If this recruiter reads the personal statement and it says "Rob is a business analyst in banking", the first thing they will think is "This person isn't the one I'm looking for".

Consideration for the role

Closely linked to consideration for the recruiter, considering the role means using phrases and terminology that match the role that you're applying for.  Yes, this does mean that you might need to edit your CV depending on the role you're applying for.

Try to echo in your CV the phrases and terminology that are present within the job description.  If the job advert calls the backlog refinement process "refinement meetings" then you describe them in this way in your CV and not "backlog grooming" or "story refinement".

Every little chance you have to allow the recruiter to mentally tick boxes that match you to the role they're recruiting for should be taken.


If I'm applying for a machine learning product management role, then my experience relating to this should be the largest part of my CV.  Not my experience as an accounts administrator, or my experience working for my aunt's dog walking business.

For each aspect of your CV you need to be considering how this piece of information will get you closer to the job you're applying for.  If there is no real reason for this information, then why is it there?


Of course, there is more to it than just these few notes, and every CV and job being advertised is different, but getting the basics right means that you'll then be free to edit your CV for specific cases and increase the chances of application success.

If you would like me to help you with this process, then just get in touch