Five Deadly Sins Of CV Writing

Updated: Apr 23

A CV is an integral part of your job or graduate school application. It speaks for you when you are not there. In this article, we have outlined five things you should avoid when writing your CV. We advise that you get a copy of your current CV and examine it as you read this article.


Your CV is not the place to be humble! Don’t get us wrong, humility is a virtue any day. However, when it comes to CVs, you need to brag about your achievements, sell yourself perfectly! Now overselling is a “no no”, but underselling is a greater iniquity. For example, in your personal assistant role in your former organization, did you ‘arrange the files for the CEO’ or ‘undertake core administrative functions for C level executives’?

While you interned at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, did you ‘book buses for transportation for

the annual youth football tournament or did you "provide logistics support for planning the annual youth football tournament’? Think about it!


Your formatting is all wrong! An arrow bullet here, a dash bullet there, September here, just Sept there… All of these can make your CV look completely distorted. And trust us when we say an average recruiter does not have that much tolerance for haphazardly formatted CVs, not with a thousand other CVs beckoning for their attention. Your CV needs to be evenly formatted for coherence and appeal. Stop shooting yourself in the leg with wrong formatting!


An average recruiter reportedly spends about six (6) seconds looking at your CV. That brief? Yes, that brief. Now take a look at your own CV in six seconds, what do you see? If you, the owner of the CV cannot see the candidate for the job in six seconds, if you cannot identify one outstanding quality or uniqueness by a cursory glance, how do you think you will fare with a recruiter? You need to stop randomizing and go straight to the point. Look at these examples for a customer care service provider:


* Listens attentively to each customer with the intent of getting the right information while giving room to the customer to state their needs/concerns.

* With the information gotten from the customer, proffers the right solution/advice to the customer relating to the specific case while showing empathy and being professional at all times.


* Receives inbound calls from customers and handles customer inquiries, complaints, billing

questions, payment extensions and service request with a 98% efficiency.

Which out of A or B is a more effective description of the role, without being too wordy? I think we will all agree it is B.


Your CV is a testimonial of your deeds, it therefore must be active. You cannot say:

* Outbound calls to existing and prospective clients to promote different products and


When you should say:

* Making outbound calls to existing and prospective clients to promote different products and services.

It is as they say in the army, ‘show the movement’. Show and tell us what you did and how you did it, don’t just outline your job descriptions. It is very important to use action words and appropriate qualifiers when describing your achievements in a former or current role. Also know when to use past tense and present continuous tense.


Funny this is an actual sin anyway! Why are you telling those unnecessary lies? This is the twenty-first century! Your sin shall find you out, be assured! We cannot overemphasize the importance of being true to yourself and your potential employer here. Describe what you have done, not what you hope to do or wish you could do.

There is always room for explaining your hopes and dreams in your cover letter or statement of interest as the case may be. Do not undersell, do not oversell, instead be true and proud of your truth.

A poor CV can hurt your chances of getting into your dream school even if all other application documents are solid.

Let's teach how to write a convincing graduate CV that sells your strengths and achievements well to the admissions committee.

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