Don\’t write these on your CV

As an active recruiter ( I am the owner of HIREghana, ), my associates and I come daily through several candidates\’ CVs (we have a repository of 30,000+ Ghanaian CVs). Over the years, I have also read several -unfortunately- bad books on CV writing and a lot of outdated online advice. And while there is plenty of advice on what to write and the how-to, there is also good to know what to avoid in a CV… those CV mistakes known as \’CV-Killers\’.

I wrote an article on what to avoid in a CV in October 2016:, which I strongly recommend that you read it.

Since then we continue receiving CVs with similar mistakes and new ones, so I felt the need to expand on the original article- thing of this as Part II.

So, kindly allow me to offer some brief but absolute tips coming from our collective experience as HIREghana.

Things NOT to write in your CV (or Cover Letter)

  1. Stop typing \’Curriculum Vitae\’ on top – we all know what that document is.
  2. No more … outdated terms like \’Objective\’.

You have applied/ applying for a specific role, so a generic objective is a possible turn off.

Replace Objective with a a short, simple, focused and high- impact headline about yourself and a few bullet- points below it for explanation/ justification. For example: \’Junior Marketing Practitioner\’ or consider writing a personal branding statement instead in some other form.

  1. Can’t use generic terms or outdated expressions.

So, your CV should not contain things/ expressions like:

  • Seasoned Customer Executive
  • Young, enthusiastic,….
  • Great Leadership Skills
  • Can use Word (do you know anyone who can’t?)
  • Great (another Great) communication skills
  • Detail-oriented
  • Problem- Solver
  • Self- motivated
  • Social Media Master
  • Hard Worker (so the rest of the candidates are not?)
  • Results driven or results -oriented… (sure that’s what KPIs are for)
  • Customer oriented (hmmmmm…)
  • Best of Breed (are you a dog?)
  • ….
  1. No more tasks… replace them with Accomplishments.

We are all tired reading your ‘copy- and- paste’ from your Job Description… We -both Recruiters and Hiring Managers, know what the tasks to be performed / associated with any given role are.

So tell us not what were your tasks during all your past employment history, but what you really did and ideally what you really accomplished.

According to Rosemary Haefner, VP of HR at CareerBuilder: \”Hiring managers prefer strong action words that can be used to define specific experience, skills and accomplishments.\”

  1. Cut the Self- Praise – Humility & Modesty work better.

Don’t list endless about of skills – which in reality are nothing more that personality traits, your self- image or really just Self- Praise.

If it is not objective and quantified -ideally with numbers- ii shouldn’t be in your CV!

If you are really exceptionally good in your job/ trade, show that by naming awards or special professional distinctions you have earned (so no ‘employee- of- the- month‘ please) and -most importantly- by providing some quantifiable metrics that proves your abilities.

For example, you ranked in May in the top 1% of your company’s sales-people.

Btw, we can’t stop noticing that our Ghana is full of CEOs of non-existing companies; 2nd place come the full spectrum of self- proclaimed prophets and the apostles; 3rd place are those with …self- awarded titles or degrees.

  1. “Responsible for ______” <— please don’t do that!
    “Reading this term, the recruiter can almost picture the C-average, uninspired employee mechanically fulfilling his job requirements — no more, no less. Having been responsible for something isn’t something you did — it’s something that happened to you” (Source:
  2. Avoid irrelevant personal information.
    Sure you are most proud of your church singing or your local/ neighborhood football club performance or your excellent fufu and peper sauce awards, but unless these are somehow relevant to a specific role, they do not need to occupy CV- space.
  3. Stop the Educational Paraphernalia.

Candidates go on listing every single high school they went to and any exam they sat… If you have a BSc, obviously you have finished both JHS and SHS. Also, you got a BSc in Geology or Business Admin? Great, but listing all the courses you took or the ones relevant to that particular job, does not help; it shows lack of communication skills and possibly lack of judgment as to what information is really adding value to the reader.

Finally, just because you attended a 2-3 hrs or even a whole day seminar, does not mean this counts as education.

And stop the endless listing of Alison courses please.

  1. Watch out w/ those Acronyms & Abbreviations.

Go ahead and use them only if they are universally understood (e.g. ROI), but make sure that you know what they mean and you use them in the correct context.

  1. Limit the bullets under a job description to ideally no more than five.

It has been proven that we humans, can\’t memorize more than 7 items at a time (for those of you who want to know the details please refer to,_Plus_or_Minus_Two )

  1. References available upon request (Really?)

This is sooo 80s – we all have references! If an employer wants references, s/he will ask for it. Plus in 2017, any Recruiter or Hiring Manager can find real actual and relevant references using social media – especially LinkedIn.


ONE Last Piece of Advice -Don\’t go beyond 2 pages.

Let me say it in a different way please: when is the last time that you read a 800-page book? It is unfair to expect that someone will spend 30 minutes to \’understand\’ your employment history. Even if s/he does, do you really think that this person can retain all that information after a quick reading of a lengthy document? Leave those overwhelming details for a relevant question(s) during the interview. Also, your inability to explain something clearly and briefly implies bad communication skills.


In Conclusion
I hope that this list of \’no-no\’s will help you in improving your CV. I tried to give the most exhaustive possible list; but please, if you notice any missing \’no-no\’s, kindly do take the time to communicate them to me. Thank you.

Please, use excellent Grammar, correct Syntax + your Spell- Checker!

Writing a good CV without any of these mistakes, it should now be simple. And, it does place you ahead of the crowd.

I strongly suggest that you read these 2 postings please:

Good Luck please.

About the Author: Irene Gloria Addison is the owner of HIREghana [Human Intelligence Recruitment], a Leader Recruitment Agency and HRM & OD Consultancy. Irene -who has a LinkedIn footprint of 30.000+ connections- and her team have also been constantly mentoring and coaching candidates on how to improve their LinkedIn presence, their CV and their interviewing skills.

Irene welcomes any feedback/ comments/ remarks/ suggestions via your email message to Press @ HIREgh. Com

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© 2017 Irene Gloria Addison and © 2017 Human Intelligence Recruitment

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