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No, not that way. This way…

6 May 2019 at 7:00 am
Marilyn Jones
In her latest blog, experienced recruiter Marilyn Jones offers up some tips on what not to do in your CV.

Marilyn Jones | 6 May 2019 at 7:00 am


No, not that way. This way…
6 May 2019 at 7:00 am

In her latest blog, experienced recruiter Marilyn Jones offers up some tips on what not to do in your CV.

Over the many years of my career in recruitment, and now in my own company, I have regularly presented seminars for groups on how to write a CV and undertake job searches in today’s market.

A candidate’s recent feedback to me was, “it was nice to hear about what ‘not to do’ as there seemed to be a lot of information on how to do things, but not as much on what not to do”.

So I am going to talk about the “not to dos”.

Starting this week, with your CV.

Don’t use too many fonts.

Too many variations in font and colour looks messy and untidy. First impressions count.

You should use one font with a bold, and maybe one other size. The font size should be between 10 and 12.

Don’t include everything.

Your CV or resume is about getting to interview. It’s a step in the job search process. The interview gets you the role and that is when you can expand on your expertise.

Your CV should be three to five pages max, not 11 pages, or 22 or 44. Board CVs should be two pages ideally.

If you have an academic CV I suggest that you have a resume of three to four pages highlighting your skills, capabilities and key achievements. You can then include an appendix that can be longer if needed. A scholarship summary in the resume can be helpful to highlight the key appendix components.

Don’t highlight your negatives.

Don’t include things like: “While I have not directly worked with x…”, rather, talk about the things you have done.

No buts.

I hate the words but, get, so, and hate. Be more creative. Think on the verbs and alternatives we have talked about, for example, compiled, developed, founded, reviewed, although, acquired, grew, changed, progressed, obtained, subsequent, therefore, accordingly, consequently, averse to.

Don’t just use the shortened version of a word – ie acronyms.

For example, if you write ANZ it can mean the following:

  • Australia and New Zealand
  • Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited
  • Air New Zealand (NZ national airline)
  • Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (publisher)
  • Archaeology in New Zealand (quarterly journal; New Zealand Archaeological Association)
  • Airport Noise Zone.

It is only okay to use acronyms within a CV if you have explained them at least once earlier on. Don’t expect the person reading the CV to know all the idiosyncrasies of the lingo in your industry.

And yes, I did have someone from the finance industry apply to an ANZ general manager scientific role. Rather a very different company. Additionally, the candidate really had not taken the time to read the position description.

Try not to use brackets.

It’s in the CV or it’s not. The only exception is, as explained above, for acronyms.

Think about your name.

I find modern-day Customer Relationship Management (CRM) databases that are used by recruiters, can only really handle two names. If you like to use your middle name on your CV, when it uploads it can go in as the wrong name. It can be confusing when you are trying to find the person and match up their name.

For example, take the name, John Jacob Wright.

The name may go into the database as four different options:

  • John Jacob
  • Jacob Wright
  • John Jacob-Wright
  • John-Jacob Wright

I know it’s a small thing, however, I did lose a candidate in my database recently. He applied to a role and had sent in his details, but he had a CV with four names on it and so my CRM used two of them that he did not use regularly. It took us a while to sort out why. It is another way that you can be left in the black hole and not be found by employers.

About the author: Marilyn Jones is an executive recruiter experienced in resourcing staff for companies and assisting individuals with their careers. Working for both niche and multinational recruitment organisations, Jones has worked across multiple sectors in many industry and business sectors both in Australia and the UK.

Each fortnight Marilyn Jones will be exploring topics that are relevant to your career journey. She will be providing advice for job seekers entering and moving within the social sector. If you’d like insights into a particular topic, please email

Please note the views expressed are the opinion of Marilyn Jones and do not necessarily reflect the views of Pro Bono Australia, its staff or contributors.

Marilyn Jones  |  @ProBonoNews

Marilyn Jones is an executive recruiter experienced in resourcing staff for companies and assisting individuals with their careers.

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