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10 Common Universal Rules of CV Writing

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10 Common Universal Rules of CV Writing

On October 1 years ago, I announced free CV services offer for my loyal readers and the response was beyond what I expected. I had to take extra time into the night to appraise and rewrite some CVs. I noticed some common mistakes that are ‘no-no’ in CV writing and I decided to chip down some points that I believe holds true universally. So let’s go…

1) Never include your picture in your CV

…unless stated by the job description or job advert. Who cares about how you look in pictures. For all we know you may only be photogenic, and is it a modelling position?

2) Never use Tables on your CV

This reminds me of those questions during examinations that say “in a tabular form differentiate between bla bla bla and bla.” Please this is CV writing and not table writing. Using tables in CV makes a boring read.

3) Present your Strengths/Skills first

…of course this is after your profile or career summary is well seated. Recruiters/employers want to know WHO you are before WHAT you are. These days it is called Talent Resourcing not just Human Resourcing (- Kunle ‘Olaifa, his words lives on)

4) Never, Ever Spiral Bind your CV

Is it theses you’re giving to your potential employer who is supposed to glance only at the first page of your CV and be convinced to call you for an interview? Think twice! Please even if your CV is a thousand pages, don’t spiral bind if you’re submitting in hard copy. I saw one last year and that memory has never escaped till now.

5) Never use a different Font Colour other than ‘Automatic’

You’re surprised, or you don’t believe me that it can occur, right? Please don’t be. Even if you’ve seen ‘Orange is the New Black’ (I hope it is as interesting as they say), never use another colour to highlight texts or write your CV other than ‘Automatic’

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6) Never use Different Font Styles

Some mixtures don’t just go well with the eyes. Mixing up fonts in CV writing is like conducting an experiment in trial and error which will woefully fail or keeping software in beta mode until it is eventually kicked out of the market even without entering it.

7) Always use short Profile/Career Summary/Objectives:

The average recruiter spends about 6 seconds looking at your resume and then decides whether to keep reading! So where bore her/him and waste your chances at getting an interview. Make your profile or career summary at most two short sentences. It’s a summary and not an essay.

8) Never use Decorative Bullet Styles

It’s just a bullet so why take it too far? Always use the default bullet style i.e. the dot-like bullet style when presenting an information list (e.g. responsibilities). It makes you CV neat and lovable.

Must Read: Silly Mistakes Job Applicants Make During Job Search


9) Never ‘Copy and Paste’

People do this a lot, especially recent graduates. Woe may betide your CV if a recruiter coincidentally comes across two different CVs with exactly the same skills/key strength list or career objective. Most people who write their CVs themselves are guilty of this.

10) Never Leave Out ‘Responsibilities/Accomplishments’

…and why should you do that? Most recruiting executives/HR Managers get irritated if you just list your job titles and dates and place you worked or you are working without listing exactly what you do. Account Manager in a firm may differ from Account Manager in another firm. An Account Manager in a firm may be a person that manages the account of a client and not necessarily handling the finance of a firm. It is more like a Relationship Manager and differs from the actual Accountant

Okay… so I said 10 but pleeeeeasee let me add just one more:-;

11) Always Write Out Abbreviations:

What if I do not have time to start thinking about what LLM, BL, RCI, CIPM, NIM, or PHCN means? I may definitely miss out on what may be a convincing string on me so that you’ll be invited for an interview. So watch how you use abbreviations!

Thank you for reading. Do not forget to share with a friend or leave a comment for us all to learn and know how useful this article is to anyone.



  1. Titilayo

    October 23, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    very informative. Thanks for sharing

    • John Bassey

      October 23, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      You are welcome Titilaro. I’m glad it is very informative.

  2. Ikheafe Gloria

    March 28, 2015 at 12:07 am

    Very informative and educative indeed…. Well done sir.

    • John Bassey

      March 28, 2015 at 4:58 pm

      Thank you Glory. Please do not forget to subscribe to the updates!

    • John Bassey

      July 14, 2015 at 4:50 pm

      Thank you Gloria

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