CV WRITING: 20 Things You Should Not Include In Your Resume


Unemployment in Nigeria is fast becoming (if it has not already become) a second skin for the eligible youths in the country. It is now a common feature to see unemployed graduates lamenting over the inability of the government to give them jobs or worst still, after sending out so many CVs, they complain that the organisations do not contact them again. But this may not be their fault. Yes, your CV may be responsible.

The way your CV (same thing as Resume) is packaged will determine if you get a feedback or not. Human Resource Managers/Recruiters have to get through hundreds, if not thousands of resumes in a short time. Receiving CVs is one of the most difficult part of being an HR.

First, the job listing sites do not help matters. You place a job advert in one site because you don’t want your mailbox to overflow with CVs, then other job sites take it upon themselves to ‘help you’ publish which results in tens of thousands more persons seeing the ad and then applying for the job.

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So, in an effort to get through as many CVs as possible, an HR will normally spend less than one minute to look at a CV. Some companies even use applicant tracking software to make the initial selection and they do that in a split second. What makes you resume get a second or longer look is its relevance and what makes it relevant it what is or is not contained in it.

These 20 things are what recruiters are not looking for or what they don’t want to see in your CV:

1. They Want to See your Results and Accomplishments, Not your Duties.

When writing about your work experience, recruiters are not interested in what you did but in what you accomplished with what you did. So, all the day-to-day activities is really of no importance, especially to a HR who wants to move on to the next CV as soon as they can. Just focus on the results you have achieved, how you increased revenues, cut costs or how you played a key role in improving productivity.

2. They Do Not Want to Know your Life’s History, Save it!

In the attempt to make their resume comprehensive, many applicants include all sorts of things in there without knowing that this act infuriates recruiters. want to present a comprehensive resume and include all sorts of irrelevant information. The skills and experiences necessary in the job you are applying for should be what you include in your resume. For instance, if the company is looking for someone with marketing skills, the manager will be looking for lots of relevant examples and successes in your marketing. If these are not prominent, then your resume is headed for the bin.

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3. They are Tired of Vague Objective Statements.

Objective statement is a statement that seeks to summarize the abilities of the applicant  and have become a necessary ingredient in a marketable CV. But today, people write vague and ambitious objective statements as a way of enticing the recruiter. Some applicants go as much as ‘copying’ what others wrote as their objective statement into their own resumes without checking if it is all together relevant for them. My advice: Focus on this job at hand. Concentrate on listing your experience and skills which will help you to land the job. Read the job description again and again to make sure you have matched up the requirements with what you have to offer.

4. They are Not Bothered About References. Get a Call Back First.

References are an important aspect in securing a job but it is not compulsory to add them in the CV. A CV should be a maximum of two pages, especially for fresh job seekers, so why waste the precious space to write the common line, “References are available on request” when you can just have a list of reference names ready, should you be asked for them at the interview? And make sure that you have already contacted them so that they are ready to give you a reference, if requested.

5. They Do Not Want to See your Work or Fancy Email Addresses.

Many applicants make the silly mistake of adding their ‘secondary school’ e-mail in the CV. You know those fancy e-mails that go thus, [email protected], [email protected], etc are not what an already frustrated HR wants to see. Always leave a personal email address which has your real name, rather than your nickname. Again, HR’s do not want to contact you with your present workplace’s e-mail address for obvious confidential reasons.

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6. They Do Not Want to See Unexplained Gaps in your Resume.

Recruiters don’t like to see gaps in your resume except it is fully explained. But these “gaps” are most likely to be there, probably, when you left the job in search of another or when you went for a special course, it is normal and recruiters know it. But what they don’t like is when no explanation is given for why it is so. They like to know what you were doing in those gaps. If the courses or freelance jobs improved your skills in certain areas, you should include them and relate them to the skills required for this new position you are gunning for.

7. They Want to See Skills that Only a Few Have.

Recruiters have grown tired for seeing computer literacy as a skill in a CV. Today almost every job seeker is computer literate. When job applicants mention that they are completely at ease with the latest versions of Microsoft Office and Excel, it makes them sick and you have no business even mentioning it at all. If you are working on software development and applying as a software developer, then it might be relevant.

8. They Would be Endeared to a Tidy Resume.

This is a real turn off for recruiters because they cannot find the information they want quickly. The best approach is to be as clear and concise as possible. Mention your name, present position and then relevant experience by mentioning the posts you have held. Make sure you put in start and finishing dates and use bullet points to mention responsibilities and main achievements.

9. They Did Not Ask for your Face. Remove the Passport or Other Pictures.

We live in such a visual age so there is going to be a need for your photograph soon enough if you get an invitation, but you do not want to attach it to your CV just yet. Reason: It is assumed that passport photographs or pictures may sway the mind of the recruiter to move from inviting the applicant based on merit to inviting them based on physical endowments.  But if you use LinkedIn platform, be sure that your page does actually have your photograph.

10. They Do Not Want to See Irrelevant Personal Details.

Some personal details are not supposed to appear on your resume. Most of them are, in fact, illegal for a HR person to ask during an interview. So why include them in the CV? Church and sporting activities are some unnecessary details that should be totally left out especially if the job you are applying for is not related to them. But if, on the other hand, you were managing public relations for a charity in your spare time and are applying for a job with a similar profile, then you should mention it.

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11. They Do Not Want to See Fancy Fonts or Creative Formats.

Some people in an effort to stand out and make their CV more attractive and exceptional uses fancy texts and designs to beautify it. as your creativity may not be altogether a bad idea but if an electronic software will process your CV, it may not recognize it and that’s the problem. Plus, if the manager is actually reading the hard copy or attachment, then creative formats may be a distraction and a hindrance. The solution is to keep it simple, clear and concise.

12. They Want to Know you Beyond your CV.

Recruiters look at your social media profiles as a part of the hiring process, Yes! According to statistics, more than one-third of the recruiters are looking at these to filter candidates. Some estimates say that about ninety percent of companies are using social media in their hiring process. If your Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms are ‘littered’ with things that portray you as irresponsible, don’t expect to get a call back, because it will never come. Show your resourcefulness by helping people in your connections solve their problems because how you respond to people on these platforms is also very important.

13. They Do Not Want to See Resumes Written in the First Person.

Yes, they know it is YOU who is applying so there is no need to overuse the word ‘I’. Most applicants start with ’Responsible for’ which is another way of saying ‘I was responsible for’. The best approach is to make it much more action oriented and start the sentence with ‘Managed…’ ‘Co-ordinated…’, ‘Designed….’, Cut
costs….’ Resolved issues……’ and ‘Led a team of 10…..’.

14. They Do Not Want Vague Statements of Success.

In a bit to impress the recruiter, most applicant try to make over bloated statements about their achievements and this is not what a HR wants to see. When you state your achievements, you need to be detailed about it. It is not enough to say that you completed X project within the deadline. You need to go into more precise in your account. You need to state what is it you did and what is going on there now.

15. They Do Not Want to See Just a List of Bullet Points.

It may seem easier on the eye at first but when hiring managers are presented with only bullet points, it is actually difficult to read. The ideal resume will contain a mix of sentences interspersed with bullet points which are best for lists of figures or facts.

16. They Do Not Want to See Lies or Exaggerated Claims.

You will be shooting yourself in the leg if you begin your process of getting a new job with a lie. The hiring manager wants the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Lies, especially about accomplishments and achievements have a bizarre way of back firing. So your very best option is to stick to the truth, you are safer with it.

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17. They Do Not Want to See a One-Size-Fits-All Resume.

You apply for lots of jobs and you always send the same resume. This is a grave error because each job is different requiring particular skill sets, experience and so on. Remember that each recruiter is looking for a resume that matches their company profile and the skill set for a particular position. A one size fits all resume can never do that.

18. They Do Not Want to See Cover Letters.

There is a fair amount of debate about this but the consensus is that a cover letter is actually clogging up vital space and time. No one reads it. Sometimes, though, a cover letter is required. It will depend on the company where you are applying. So pay attention to whether one is asked for. The best solution is to concentrate on hard-hitting statements in your resume which match the skills sets and experience and qualifications required.

19. They Do Not Want to See your Cool Word Header Feature.

Many applicants want to make a good impression by using the Word header feature with their name. It looks prominent and cool. They are unaware that some scanning software cannot read this header, so your resume ends up as being from an anonymous applicant! Basically, stick to more conventional methods for displaying your name at the top.

20. They Do Not Want to See Positions Dating Back More Than 15 Years.

Did you know that ageist attitudes are still rife in the job market? By listing all the positions you have held since graduation means that you are going too far back. There is no need to put the date on things like your degree. The general rule of thumb is to cap a limit of 15 years so that it does not become a historical or autobiographical document.

As we have seen, a resume is rather like an advertisement in which you show off your main features to entice the hiring manager to actually find out more. If you avoid the 20 mistakes above, you could land that dream job. Good luck!