CV writing mistakes

5 CV Cliches Damaging Your Job Search

CV Writing mistakes

You may think your CV is perfect, but place yourself in the shoes of the recruiter. Recruiters screen hundreds of CVs daily. With time, most CVs look and sound the same unless an applicant says something that makes them stand out. If your CV is stuffed with the same boring overused CV cliches, than it’s time to rewrite your CV.

Hiring managers spend an average of five to ten seconds on every CV. Do you really want to lose one valuable second on a redundant word that fails to showcase your unique talents?

To ensure your CV passes the ten second recruiter scanning test, avoid or rephrase these CV cliches.

Get Rid of Expert

You’re probably using words like ‘expert’ ‘guru’ or ‘ninja’ to demonstrate your expertise or mastery in a particular craft. These grand self-praising titles may sound impressive to you. However, to recruiters they are but empty exaggerations especially if your accomplishments fail to match up to your title.

Solution: If you’re really the best and the brightest, show it by listing your exemplary contributions to a field or industry. Mention the scholarly works published, grants awarded, PhD degrees attained, conferences you’ve spoken at and inventions you’ve made.

Demonstrate You’re a Team Player

Being a collaborative team player is a great trait to have. The problem is that every applicant claims to be a great team player but few provide proof to support their claims.

Solution: On its own, the phrase ‘great team player” is but a decorative element on your CV that adds no real value. To demonstrate that you’re actually a good team player, provide examples of any team structures you’ve worked in. Show how your coworkers depended on your work, and outline how both personal and team effort affected the bottom line. 

Describe Your Communication Skills

Communication is the top desirable skill sought after by employers. However, communication is a broad term that can mean many things: presenting pitches,writing persuasively, or speaking a foreign language.

It therefore goes without saying that simply declaring you have ‘excellent communication skills’ will tell the recruiter very little about your ability to communicate.

Solution: Describe your relevant communication skills. Then, using specific examples, demonstrate how you’ve used them to resolve an issue, influence a decision or persuade an audience.

Remove Hardworking

Anybody can proclaim that they are hardworking so don’t even bother writing “I am hardworking” on your CV because it’s a hollow subjective claim. Let your experience, track record and contributions attest to your strong work ethic.

Solution: Instead of using this meaningless filler word, provide concrete examples of when you went above and beyond the call of duty to make a difference to your company. If you’ve won awards or earned promotions, highlight them as they serve as proof of your contribution and effort. Let your work speak for you and recruiters will quickly deduce that you’re a hardworking individual worth there time.

Prove You’re a Leader

Leader is a title given to you by the people who know you and follow you. It’s not a title you can simply award yourself. It therefore goes without saying that you shouldn’t crown yourself an inspirational leader, natural born leader or a thought leader on your CV. 

Solution: To showcase your leadership abilities mention the number of departments you’ve headed, boards you’ve chaired, programs you’ve overseen or projects you’ve spearheaded.

Final Thoughts

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. So do your jobs search a favor and go through every word on your CV. Gauge them for relevance, potency and proof. Ask yourself: Is this word relevant? Does it paint a powerful picture? Is it backed by proof, data and figures? If a word doesn’t pass this test, ditch it and rewrite your CV with fresh interesting words that showcase your individuality and distinctiveness.

Do you need someone to help you rewrite your CV? Get in touch with one of our professional CV Writing Consultants. Email Eric at or send a Whatsapp message to +254 715 155 512.

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