8 Ways to NOT write a CV


A single mistake in your CV and it is as good as trash! 61% of recruiters will dismiss a resume because it contains typos while 43% of hiring managers will disqualify applicants because of their spelling mistakes.

There is a lot of information across the internet on how to write a CV, and despite that job seekers (especially fresh graduates) keep making hilarious and sad mistakes which cost them interview opportunities that they could have nailed, while simultaneously denying organizations the chance to hire the right person. Perhaps the person who is the best fit for the job made the wrong impression on the recruiter and they therefore did not even get the chance to meet the hiring manager in an interview. Once you’re in the interview that’s a completely different issue altogether, but this article will confine itself on how to not miss the opportunity of meeting the hiring manager.

When someone or an organization is hiring, it means that they have a problem. They have an itch that they need scratched so bad that they are willing to take time out of their routines to talk to you and find out if you are capable of scratching that itch; so naturally, they are picky about what kind of person they’re willing to spend their time on. Assuming that you have already written your CV, go back and recheck it to align it with what the recruiter needs. Without further ado, you should not;


  1.     Make spelling and/or grammar mistakes

This goes without saying but PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT MAKE SPELLING MISTAKES OF ANY KIND! It’s 2016, learn how to use document review tools which are conveniently built-in in virtually all word processors, be it from Microsoft or otherwise. You cannot claim to be conversant in word processing and yet fail to eliminate simple spelling mistakes in the very same document you are making those claims in. It is ridiculous, a blatant lie (more on that later), and unprofessional. Grammatical errors go here too, for example ending the cover letter with “you’re faithful” instead of the more acceptable “yours faithfully” will surely give recruiters something to laugh about for weeks; not the kind of attention you want. Spelling and grammar mistakes are unacceptable, and there’s no two ways about it.


  1. Send in a generic CV

It’s a good idea to always have a CV on standby when you’re looking for a job, but for crying out loud DO NOT SEND THAT THING BEFORE CUSTOMIZING IT to match the job you are applying for. Let’s say you have been interning with a sugar making company and gained some skills that you think are transferable to say a juice making company that is currently hiring. If you have a CV that screams “sugar” after every three words the HR will not even get to the third line. Instead highlight your skills in food safety and perhaps how good you are at telling when sugary food goes bad, because that’s something the juice company can use too. Your knowledge about different types of sugarcane will not do you any good here. As a rule of the thumb, a generic CV will get you a generic answer like “Thanks for expressing your interest, but your application was unsuccessful”. See how stale that sounds? That is exactly how your CV sounded to them. And the way about this is quite easy, just read the job announcement and match the skills required with the ones in your CV; then eliminate anything that they do not need and highlight what they are looking for.

Another indicator of a generic CV is “career objectives” section. Since you’re already sending in your CV, your objective is to get that job and it is the only objective that the HR cares about. If you highlight your skills properly you won’t need to state your career objectives. A generic CV has a lot of irrelevant content that biases the recruiter against you.

  1.  Arrange your qualifications/experiences in the wrong order

If you have a CV, you should already know that the most recent qualifications stay on top. For some reason many fresh graduates  present their primary education first (which is a waste of space, in Tanzania the minimum qualification with a certificate is CSEE or equivalent. Anything else below that is inadmissible anywhere) which is counter productive because first; the HR is scanning for the qualifications he/she needs to make that hire and if they see what they need (usually your latest qualification) then they know you have all the qualifications before that and they jump to the skills part directly (remember there’s a lot of applications and time is of the essence) and second regardless of the CV format you used, beginning with most recent qualifications is a standard way of how CVs are written and every recruiter expects you to know this; if you don’t the odds begin stacking up against you.

  1.    Make your CV too long or too short

I have seen half page CVs which only included the applicant’s name, contacts, and where they went to school. I have also seen 4 page CVs from fresh graduates without any extracurricular activities or internship/volunteer work. Whether it’s because you think going to a certain University (or having certain referees)  automatically qualifies you, or you expect the recruiter to be impressed with your writing skills you will be very disappointed. Make that CV long enough to make your skills/qualifications shine but not too long to make the recruiter take tea breaks in between. Be sure to tell the recruiter what you can do for them as early as possible in the CV. A good rule of the thumb for CV length is 1 and a half to 2 pages for a fresh graduate and an extra page for every 3-5 years of experience.

  1.   Display a lack of self confidence or too much of it

Please express your abilities without bragging or being too modest. Trust me, it shows. Too much modesty indicates a lack of self-confidence, and bragging indicates overconfidence which is equally bad. While you are thinking in terms of your potential and what you are capable of accomplishing, the recruiter only cares about what you have already accomplished and from their point of view you must be able to back up with evidence everything that you claim to be. While we are on the subject, applicants that reek of desperation also tend to not get an interview.

  1.     Write a declaration

A CV is a document that introduces you to the recruiter, and in most cases it is not meant to look like an affidavit. A declaration does not add value to your CV because there is nothing in there that the recruiter doesn’t know already and yet it uses up valuable space (see number 4 above). The assumption is that if you are writing it in your CV and your reference collaborates, then it is true. Speaking of references….

  1.    Put someone as your referee without asking them first

Because they will be surprised when called and the recruiter will notice. Also your college Professor has had numerous students so unless you were remarkable in a way, he/she will struggle to remember you (which the recruiter will notice) unless you ask first. Also while we are on the subject of referees, do include people who supervised your extracurricular activities/volunteer work. It’s a shame having to turn down a good CV all because it didn’t include a referee from where they claim to have volunteered. It makes the recruiter wonder whether the candidate actually did volunteer there.


  1.     Lie

So you have claimed to be proficient in using Microsoft word and yet your CV contains typos, how does that demonstrate your attention to details which you claimed to be one of your attributes? You are a liar. Did you highlight your excel skills? Well I hope you know what conditional formatting is, because they are going to ask you in the interview and if you do not know the answer to it you better go remove it from your skills or actually learn how to work with excel. Also you are capable of multitasking you say? Sure, as long as you can back that up with a true example of when you actually demonstrated it in a way that can be beneficial to the job you are applying for. It is very rare to be capable of both attention to details and multitasking, unless you are an unusually intelligent person (If you are, then write it and then back it up during the interview) you are either a multitask-er or attentive to details; not both. Do not put logically contradicting information in a CV, it is an affront to the recruiter’s intelligence. Don’t just throw around attributes like “capable of working under pressure” casually, unless it’s the truth. Let me be very clear about this, there is absolutely no way of going back after you have lied in your CV. If you are capable of lying about your credentials, what won’t you lie about?

Now go forth and have a successful CV writing. Good luck.

This article was written by: Baluhya, Godbless D.M

9 thoughts on “8 Ways to NOT write a CV

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.