CV Do’s and Don’ts (Part 1): The 7 – second rule!

As promised, I have compiled a list of tips to comply with when drafting your CV. A while ago I announced that I would be doing a series of tips posts to make your lives (and prospective employers and Recruiters’ lives) a bit easier and of course land that job you’ve been eyeing. After all, no matter how good you think you are, if your CV is not an attention-grabber, a recruiter will put your CV into file 13! Trust me on this.

If you’re sitting there thinking: “YES, my CV goes to File 13, I have a chance!” Then I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings but File 13 can range anything from a shredder to the trash folder, to a ban, to blacklisted! So no, File 13 is not where you want to be. I repeat File 13 is NOT where you want to be! Now that that’s out of the way, I have to just say that I am glad that there was a good response; it shows that candidates are willing to improve and take an interest in their career. It also shows that candidates are becoming more aware that their CV is an important part of the recruitment process.

Not only does a good CV make a good impression but if you are unsuitable for a current opportunity, a recruiter would most likely remember your CV for another opportunity… Unless of course you have a scarce skill…this would then make the recruiter remember you, regardless of your shitty CV! But let’s face it guys, not everyone possesses scarce skills. And NO, a first class pass is NOT a scarce skill, even if your mother told you so!!

(This post refers to experiences workers and NOT graduates. Your first class pass would of course be more valuable when looking for graduate opportunities)

Here’s a scary little fact: Recruiters spend an average of 5-7 seconds looking at a CV!!!!! Now ask yourself this: Is your CV 7-second worthy? If your response is “no”, then read on.

We’ll start at the beginning and work our way from there. Since the post will probably be very long, and I don’t want to bore anyone; also because I would like some feedback if you encounter a problem or are confused, I will be breaking it down to a post per week, section by section and released every Thursday (except this week. We’re starting with a Friday post)

Please interact and work with me here, I am here to help and assist. This week, we’ll be doing the “Personal details” and “Summary” section. With that said, here we go:

I know it should go without saying but you will be surprised the number of CV’s I have seen without an email, without a contact number and recently, without a friggin NAME!!! Yes, they exist!Please, always include your name AND contact details!! Contact details must include a phone number and email address. I know that many candidates prefer anonymity because they don’t want their current employer knowing that they’re on the market. Well, in that case, include your cell phone number and private email address.

You do NOT need to include the following, unless specifically requested:

Health: Nobody cares that you are a non-smoker with sober habits. If it is needed, a medical test will be performed to prove it…with your permission of course! 

Spouse and children’s names: This is unnecessary information. YOU are the candidate and we want to know YOU. Their info can be found on their CV’s. Any information we require about your spouse and dependents, we’ll ask. 

Summary: Long paragraph about yourself is a FAT NO! Keep this as short as possible. I mean it! 12 lines are TOO MUCH! YES, I know you want to tell us about your life and career aspirations and how you’re a “hardworking” “driven” “flexible team player” and … ZZZZzzzz!

BORING! Nobody reads it. It all looks the same. Heck, I used to have that on my CV! You can’t see me but I’m hanging my head in shame, reeling! If you have achievements, then stick to a 4-5 line paragraph. Please stick to noteworthy achievements. Primary school prefect is not noteworthy and neither is being chosen for class rep at campus. If you have nothing noteworthy then have no summary! Simple as that!

Of course this does not apply to graduate positions, which focuses more on your school activities. Please note that this post is not aimed for graduates but for those already in the employment market! I know that was a repeat but yeah, graduates can sometimes be very special. SIGH, and guys, please, there’s a difference between a graduate position and a graduate. Just because you’re a graduate doesn’t mean that all positions you apply for is a graduate position!!! Please know the difference and apply accordingly!!! There’s nothing more annoying than a graduate applying for a non-graduate position! Please tailor your CV! Or else, we’ll DELETE!

SO here’s an example of what a “summary” and “details” should typically include:

This is just a small bragging paragraph. Do not be shy and DEFINITELY DO NOT PAD!! Mention number of years overall experience, number of years Management experience and industry that you focus on. If you’d like to change industry then mention it here. Keep it brief and to the point. Please, I cannot stress this enough.

Personal Details

  • Name: Mary Lou
  • Current location: Cape Town
  • Willing to relocate: Yes (Anywhere in the world except to DRC)
  • Marital Status: Married with 2 children
  • Languages: English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, Northern Sotho
  • Driver’s license: Yes, Code AB
  • Notice period: 1 month
  • Current salary & Salary expectations: This is not required but would be EXCEPTIONALLY helpful to recruiters. This is usually a sensitive topic so recruiters won’t mind if it is left out.

HOWEVER: Please note the following: (And this is VERY IMPORTANT) whilst we are aware that salary information is confidential and sensitive, when a recruiter asks about your current salary, it is not because they are being nosy! Rather, it is to help gain a better understanding of your worth. Granted that some people are paid less than their worth but that is why you discuss this point with your recruiting agent. Also, it gives the recruiter a better point of negotiating a market related salary for you! Mind you, recruiters are paid according to your potential salary. So the more YOU get, the more THEY get! Do the maths and see why it is good to be open with your recruiting agent.

BA (Hons) on Business Administration – UNISA – In Progress (To be completed 2013)
BA Business Administration – Cape Peninsula University of Technology 2012

Professional registration / Membership
List an professional RELEVANT memberships

Additional Courses
List additional courses completed

Computer literacy

  • It is not necessary to list all MS Office programs individually. That is padding your CV and we are on to you! Just add MS Office! If you only have expertise in one of the programs then only include that one! If you have advanced competency then say so (i.e. you know formulae, v-lookups, h-lookups, etc.) Eg. MS Office – Advanced competency
  • List all other computer programs that you are COMPETENT in.

Recruiters look at 100’s upon 100’s of CV’s DAILY! If you make their life hard with a stupid CV or by not following instructions, then they will simply click “X” or “delete”! And next time they see you apply for another position, they will remember you and guess what’s in store for your CV, “X” or “delete”; just for being stupid! Is that what you want to be remembered for…? I hope NOT!

I hope this post was helpful. I know that job hunting is hard and I know that CV drafting is equally so. This post was designed to make that process just a little bit easier for you…and for me :)If you have any questions or queries throw them my way and I will do my best to answer them all.

Comment  below or on my other accounts, Facebook, Work Twitter, Personal Twitter or just leave a comment below.

Let’s get you those jobs!!!!!!!!

ToxicSweety over and out!


Authored by Fowzia Gamiet, ToxicSweety's Pensieve is a written montage of memories, experiences and anything current and newsworthy. Taken from the Harry Potter series specifically "Goblet of Fire" a "pensieve" is a magical repository for memories. I always love hearing from readers of my blog, so please leave your memory/ comment on ToxicSweety's Pensieve. Enjoy!

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Posted in Career Section, How to, Toxic Judgement
2 comments on “CV Do’s and Don’ts (Part 1): The 7 – second rule!
  1. Nafees says:

    aw thanks a lot, Toxic 🙂


  2. Reblogged this on HEADHUNTING AFRICA and commented:
    Tips on how to draft a good CV. Please leave your comments, suggestions and requests as this requires as mush input as possible, if we are to present excellent CV’s to clients.



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