10 CV Don’ts To Stay Away From

  | 6 min read

As we embark on the month of giving tips on CV writing, we would like to start by sharing with you some of the things that you shouldn’t include in your CV. Staying away from them will increase the chances of your CV receiving attention from recruiters. A good CV is the one that includes all the right elements that are critical in the selection process of candidates to go through to the following stages of the hiring process. You should regard your CV as the first impression you give to a recruiter. By just looking through your CV, a recruiter can decide to proceed with your application or not. In fact, the recruiter can decide not to go through your Cover Letter because your CV is badly written.

Sometimes, the right candidates don’t have good CVs. So, what are some of the things that you shouldn’t include in your CV?

1. Grammatical Errors

grammatical-error.pngCheck your CV to make sure it passes grammatical tests. A CV with grammatical mistakes sends a very wrong message about you. It says you don’t have the mastery of the language, or you lack attention to detail. Most of the word processors have some inbuilt capacities to check for simple grammatical errors. Imagine being on the receiving end, and getting a CV with errors like “Tanznai” instead of “Tanzania,” or “exoprience” instead of “experience.” Ask someone who has superb English language skills to check your CV before sending it in.

2. Different Fonts

Please don’t embellish your CV with a variety of fonts as if that is what will help your CV to be noticed. Although Microsoft Word is home to several fonts, it doesn’t mean you should sprinkle all of them in your CV. A CV with too many fonts is like a person wearing more than 20 different pieces of clothing at the same time. It is ghastly. One font is enough. You should remember that there are professional fonts and funky fonts. Stick to the professional ones like Arial, Times New Roman and the like.

3. Different Colors

different-colors.pngApart from fonts, it is important to watch out when it comes to colours. If your personality demands, you can add some faint colours in places like borders. No colour is a safe bet if you think you tend to go overboard. To be honest, your CV should be presented in such a manner that doesn’t distract the one going through it.

4. Bad Organization & Structure

There is a certain format to CVs. Stick to it and don’t do your own thing. This is not the time to experiment with your version of organizing a CV. You should know where the Education stuff goes to and where the Work Experience goes to. References don’t start and Personal Information doesn’t come at the end. Re-inventing the way to organize your CV is like deciding to sing the second verse of the Tanzanian National Anthem while everyone else is singing the first verse. You can imagine how that will go down.

5. No Contact Information

no-contact-information.pngDoes this happen? Yes, it does. When a recruiter takes a liking to your CV, the second thing they will do is to try to reach out to you. Imagine sending out a CV without your phone number or email address. Always remember to include your contact information and not just your name. Make sure you put the phone number that you are always using and not the one whose sim card is lying somewhere in your house. Your email should be professional. Steer away from janebootylicious@gmail.com or beautifulkandy@yahoo.com or jakedonwakijichi@gmail.com. These emails are for you and your friends and not for you and the recruiter. 

6. Unprofessional photos

unproffessional-photos.pngOk, we know that your LinkedIn profile has your photo and some of you tends to include photos in your CVs. But here is the catch. Attach a professional photo. No photos of you and your girlfriend, or you carrying your baby or you and your buddies thumbing up. A passport size photo with you facing the camera is enough. Don’t wear that T-shirt you like that has words like FBI or Girls Rock! And don’t smile too much. Just a bit is enough.

7. Responsibilities but no Achievements

When a company is looking for a Marketing Manager, they are not interested to see your CV displaying a full page of your current responsibilities as a Marketing Manager for Company ABC. What they are interested to see are your achievements. Spend more time elaborating those campaigns that you executed, the number of people that you managed, the creative agencies you wrestled with so they could lower their prices for you and other achievements. Let your achievements speak for how good you are. 

8. Lies

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t lie in your CV. Don’t add positions you didn’t have. Don’t aggrandize what was not there. If you were a Marketing Officer don’t say that you were a Marketing Director. If you had 3 people reporting to you, don’t say you had 20 people. Just don’t lie. Lies always get you caught and that can mean losing your job and tarnishing your image. Telling the truth will save you.

9. Irrelevant personal information

irrelevant-personal-information.pngDo you have to say that you are divorced? Do you have to say that you have 4 wives? Or do you have to add that you have nine children? You don’t have to divulge personal information because it is unprofessional. Only include things that are related to the job advert. 

10. Salary 

A CV is not a place to include how much salary you want to receive. It is not a document for negotiating salary. Anything to do with remuneration should come during the interview. However, if the job advert requires you to disclose the salary expectation, then you can include it in your application documents. Otherwise, leave it out. 

There are many Don’ts when it comes to CV writing. It is important to expand your knowledge by reading what works and doesn’t work in the place where you live. Stay away from negative information that can prevent you from being called for an interview. 

Stephen Swai
Stephen Swai is a Marketing Manager with a passion for using words to inspire, educate and transform.