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SciStaff Career Tip 5: What to avoid when writing a CV

Writing your CV – what not to do

As recruiters we can receive hundreds of CVs every day. We therefore do not have the time or resources to look at each CV in detail. On average recruiters spend approximately six seconds on the initial “Fit / No Fit” decision. Keep this in mind when writing your CV and make sure it is easy to see what kind of experience, qualifications, and skills you have. Use your perfectly written CV to highlight each of these aspects.

Here are 10 things you should NEVER do when writing your CV.

Be dishonest

We check qualifications, previous employment, and skills- so NEVER lie or embellish. The CV needs to be an honest reflection of your professional career and if dishonesty is detected on one point then your whole CV can be questioned.

Personal Pronouns

Your CV should never include the words “I”, “Me”, ‘My”, in your cover letter you can use these pronouns to personalise your application. Do not write your CV in the third or first person. We understand that everything on your CV is about you and your experiences.

Present tense for a past job

Never describe past work experience using the present tense. Only the current job should be written in present tense. It can be confusing if you look through a CV and previous work experiences are described in the present tense.

A Photo of yourself

We know your mom might think the picture of you and your dog fluffy is gorgeous, but it is unprofessional to have it in your CV. In general, we would recommend you to not to include a photo. However, there are certain positions or companies that require a photo with your CV, and it is advisable to have a photo ready if requested. To make it easier for yourself just use your LinkedIn photo, refer to our previous blog (https://africademics.com/2020/11/17/scistaff-career-tip-2-building-the-perfect-linkedin-profile/) on tips for your photo.

List your work experience in chronological order

Do not start your work experience from the earliest working down to the most recent. Remember, whoever is looking at your CV is also probably looking at a multitude of other CVs and does not want to scroll down to see what you are currently doing. If you are writing a chronological CV do it in reverse order, starting with your current or most recent position.

An explanation of why you want this job

That is what the cover letter and interviews are for!

Irrelevant private information

A description about what you look like is unprofessional while religious beliefs or sexual orientation is irrelevant on a CV and should not be included.

Colourful text and creative fonts

We do not want to have a staring match with your CV to try and figure out what is says. Nor do we want to see the rainbow in your font colour. Keep it simple and neat and be consistent with the font used. Make sure the font size is big enough (between 10 and 12 points) so that the CV can be easily read if printed. If you are decreasing font size to keep the CV within a certain number of pages, then you need to seriously consider cutting on your word count. If you have many years of experience, try summarising your duties and responsibilities in the early positions and only expand on the most recent work experience.

 Family details

We know you love the wife or hubby and all the kids, but we do not need to know your partner’s name or how old your kids are and what their favourite colour is. It is not relevant for a CV and it takes up unnecessary space! If a potential employer is interested in these aspects of your personal life, they will ask it during the interview.

Your Hobbies

This is a bit of a grey area….if you are applying for a specific position and your hobbies or interests are not relevant then do not add it. However, it can sometimes be relevant or a conversation starter during the interview which can assist in making a personal connection. We advise that you are very critical about what you add in this section and do not add it just for the sake of it. Again, be honest when adding these to your CV! You don’t want to say you enjoy playing golf if the closest you have come to it is playing putt-putt during the holidays….chances are one of the interviewers will be an avid golfer and you can end up being embarrassed and passed over for the position because of a lie.

Please join us next year for more tips on CV writing and how to prepare for an interview! From the Scistaff team we wish you all a Happy holiday season, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!