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What you shouldn't write when applying for jobs

Discover what you shouldn't be writing in your job applications from real life examples.


People do some strange things when applying and interviewing for jobs, such as ‘When the candidate sat down and crossed his legs it became apparent that he wasn't wearing dark socks but had coloured in his ankles with black marker pen instead.’

There are a whole number of approaches people take when trying to get themselves noticed and hired; however, often these approaches aren’t well thought through. It is always advisable to follow a professional approach for job applications and your career, in general.

We’ve found the wackiest job application examples to give you a guide of how to write a good CV, cover letter or application form by seeing what you shouldn’t write when you are applying for jobs. Learn from these poor cover letter and CV examples of what you should not do.

Some people approach their applications in a jokey way; ‘I’m a mean, lean accounting machine’, however you don’t know how the employer will take your sense of humour and if it is received poorly then you’ve just shot yourself in the foot, so don’t try to add jokes.

Honesty is the best policy; but is it? There’s such a thing as oversharing, ‘I’m sixteen, I’m pregnant and I can do anything’, is it just me or is this just the strangest thing somebody could ever write on a job application? Another example of overshare is ‘I am loyal and know when to keep my big trap shut.’ As a rule of thumb, if the information you are providing is good to know, but not relevant to the job, don’t say it.

Bad grammar is a big no, no. There are a number of spelling and grammar checkers available, make sure you utilise these and also ask your family or friends to look over your applications, CV and cover letters, to avoid mistakes such as: ‘I am a perfectionist with a keen I for details’, ‘I speak English and Spinach’ and ‘My interests include cooking dogs and interesting people’.

Rushing your application and not re-reading can leave silly little mistakes behind that could have been avoided, such as not being observant when you say that you are, e.g. ‘Strong work ethic, attention to detail, team player, self-motivated, attention to detail’. Maybe you think you are so attentive to detail, that it needs to go in twice, but definitely don’t put it in twice!

Never take the questions literally on an application form, make sure you carefully read the question and understand what it is that the employer is asking you, i.e. DO NOT write this: ‘Size of current employer: very tall - probably over 6ft 5in.’

Sharing previous experience that doesn’t show that you are qualified for the job that you’re applying for is a waste of time, only put down experience that is relevant to the role. Although this one is somewhat creative, don’t write: ‘In my misspent youth I repeatedly evaded the law as a pickpocket, drug dealer, burglar and internet fraudster so I know I have the makings of an expert policeman’.

For more interesting examples of what not to write, check out where all of these extracts came from; Crap CVs by Jenny Crompton. Or to find out how to write a successful CV, check out our blog.