DAV Professional Placment Group
DAV Professional Placment Group


Johannesburg +27 11 217 0000

Cape Town +27 21 468 7000

JOHANNESBURG +27 11 217 0000
CAPE TOWN +27 21 468 7000

Don’t! Don’t! Don’t – whatever you don’t do this on your CV.



Go over three sides of A4.

Use humour or attention-grabbing gimmicks.

Include photos or pictures.

Over-complicate things – with so little time to make an impression, it’s far better to use plain English and a clear format.

Repeat yourself.

Use the word ‘I’ any more than is necessary – you’d be surprised how easily a single letter can dominate a document.

Make your career summary read like a series of job descriptions and similarly don’t omit your daily responsibilities all together – find a balance. Keep the focus on your achievements within each role.

Understate your case – this is the place to take full credit for your achievements.

Include hobbies or interests – you’re just wasting precious space.

Submit your CV until you are 100% convinced it doesn’t contain any spelling or grammar errors.

Use the following 5 words:

  1. Approximately – You have to approximate? You don’t know what you did? If you don’t know – find out. If you do know – show some confidence, and tell me down to the tenth percentile what you accomplished. That is impressive!
  2. Assisted – Unless you work in a dental office, we don’t want to hear about your “assists”. We want to know about you. In a humble way, tell us what you did, how you did it?
  3. Attempted – Never, ever tell us what you wanted to do. Tell us what you did in an emphatic tone, including a quantitative statement, Good example: “Exceeded quota by an average of 31.2% every quarter”.
  4. Team player – We like team players; we do, everyone does. However, can’t we find a creative way to demonstrate that you are, indeed, a team player? For instance, you could say that you take great pride in being a mentor; or that you are the go-to-person when your team mates have technical questions/or need a sounding board; or that 9 of your 12 team members went on to receive promotions. Or, you can tell us that the organization you work for held a 76.5% retention rate. Anything, but “team player”.
  5. Professional – Is anyone going to admit they were less-than-professional during their previous jobs? Aren’t your career and “professional” mutually exclusive? Can’t we come up with a better word to describe how we conducted ourselves? Yes, we can. And we would like to see a little more imagination.

Candidates: go and take a look at your CV, cover letter and online presence. Do any of these Don’ts show up? If yes, get a little ruthless. Have a little fun. And then see if maybe you don’t get a few more interviews.

Recruiters: what CV Don’ts make you want to hit delete? Let us know, and we’ll help the job seekers out there by compiling a definitive list of Don’ts not to use during their job search.


About Jaclyn Allardice

I’m a living enthusiast, a knowledge admirer, a sports lover and a chocolate miser. Recruitment is my career, people are my motivation and writing is my passion. You can find me searching for financial markets talent, drinking coffee at Vida or enjoying the wonders of Cape Town. Connect with me on LinkedIn

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