What (not) to say on your CV

what-not-to-say-cv
By Nichelle Wilson

What (not) to say on your CV

Applying for a job is simple, right? You just send through your CV for as many job applications as possible and hopefully, one or two people reply to you.

This used to be the only way to apply for a job but now, recruiters and hiring managers are a lot more discerning than they used to be, and your CV can make or break your chances of getting an interview.

Writing an engaging CV that will get you an interview isn’t something that comes naturally to most people. It’s a skill that requires practise, learning and development just like anything else.

To maximise your chances of getting your CV noticed, here are our tips on what to include and what you should leave off.

What TO say

Relevant achievements

‘At ABC Corporation, I was tasked with reducing printing costs by 10% and exceeded this target with a 15% reduction’

Noteworthy accomplishments at previous jobs make a great impression on someone reading your CV. Making a real difference to another company means you could make a difference in the job you’re applying for, too. Be sure to include facts and figures and don’t embellish.

Talk about the job you’re applying for

‘Having developed the human resources department at ABC Corporation, I have the skills and experience to successfully create the new recruitment team at your company, XYZ Firm’

This is a great strategy for a cover letter. Recruiters will know if you send the same cover letter and CV out to everyone, so putting in a little effort to make it unique to the job shows you’re truly interested in the position itself and aren’t just taking a chance.

Address the hiring manager personally

‘Dear Thabang,’

Most of the time it’s quite easy to find out the name of the hiring manager. If the job advert says to send an email to thabangn@company.co.za, you can safely assume you should address your CV to Thabang. You can also call the company advertising the job to find out whom you should address it to.

What NOT to say

Words and phrases

‘I work well in a team and by myself’
‘Detail-oriented’
‘Team-player’

Ever used these words or phrases in your CV? You’re not the only one, and that’s exactly why you should leave them off. These are things that just about every person says in their CV, so they only serve to make you sound like everyone else. Besides, you can’t prove any of these things in a CV – these are qualities that only a reference or first-hand experience can confirm for someone who is going to hire you.

Spelling and grammar errors

‘Your welcome to email for more info’
‘I have fulfilled many role’s in the past five years’

Can you spot the spelling errors in these examples above? If not, it’s a good idea to get someone to review your CV to make sure everything is spelled correctly. It doesn’t matter if your job will never require you to send an email or communicate with a client; bad spelling and grammar look unprofessional and recruiters will judge a CV for it.

Irrelevant information

‘My hobbies include dancing, running, and playing ultimate frisbee’

There’s a debate about whether or not you should include your hobbies on your CV; some say it adds some personality to an otherwise bland document, while others say it’s not relevant to a job. Our advice is, if you want to include your recreational activities, don’t go into too much detail about them and leave off anything that might sound weird to a stranger.

Tone

‘I was fired from my last job – LOL!’

A good CV is a balance between having your own personality come through and being professional. Using slang like ‘gotta’ and acronyms like ‘LOL’ don’t reflect well on you.

Lies

‘I’ve been awarded the Platinum Order of Mapungubwe by the President’

This one’s a total no-no and now, in South Africa, you can actually go to jail for telling lies on your CV. Telling a lie may get you an interview and it may even get you a job, but if you can’t perform at that job because you don’t have a certain skill you need, you won’t last long there anyway. It’s better to be honest and get a job with the skills, education, and experience you have.

Now that you know the basics of writing a good CV and have refined yours, send it in to us. We regularly receive learnership opportunities that could be perfect for you and having an excellent CV could be the difference between you and another candidate.