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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What to remove from your CV

What to remove from your CV

Words by Francis Kahihu

Over the last couple of months, I have interacted with many CVs of persons who wanted them reviewed as they sought a second opinion on their quality. The CVs reflected diverse expertise in personal marketing and branding. Running through most of the CVs, there were key issues that I considered critical in the process of developing a CV.

In developing a winning CV, there are a few don’ts that would be worth considering. The first relates to how you make reference to your referees in the CV. In most of the cases, I note that individuals list virtually all the personal details of the referees. As much as this has been the trend, it is not advisable to splash all the personal contact details of your referees for all to see. This especially is critical since many people have one CV format that they broadcast to all hoping to land a job along the way. They post the CVs online and circulate to all their friends on their address book.

The challenge with this is that you will never know where the CV will land and what would happen to the referees whose contacts you have generously distributed. In most of the contact details, realize that you would have exposed your referees’ names, where they work, their titles, their phone numbers and their email contacts. This is too much information to dish out about people’s lives. The worst is that many people send this out even without the referees’ permission and knowledge. Malicious people can use these contacts for ungodly purposes. In making reference to your reference, you may want to consider having their name, title and place of work and indicate that the contact details are available on request. Alternatively, you could only indicate that all details of the references are all available on request so that you do not have them on the CV.

Should you include your photo on your CV? This has been an age old question but apparently, many people are still grappling with it. I have interacted with many people’s CVs that still host their passport snaps on the front page. This could make the CV look great and personal but could do more harm than good to your CV. The CV is about your suitability for a certain job opportunity and has little to do with your looks. Looks have been known to be deceptive hence few employers would want to make judgments based on the looks of a candidate. There are some employers who consider it rude to include your photo on the CV as it could be interpreted as an inducement for favorable consideration.

The third thing you should always be wary of when working on your CV is the inclusion of your work email address. As much as it indicates the truthfulness of your assertion that you are currently working with a certain employer, it is never wise to include your official email address. Part of the reason is the fact that potential employers would send the invitations for interviews to the email address on the CV and I am sure you would not want your current employer to get wind of your job search. Refrain from using your work address in managing your job search as opportunities for being discovered are many.

Finally, do not include in your reference list names and titles of persons that are no longer applicable. Be sure to confirm with your referees every time you are sending out your CV that the contact details and titles you have are still applicable. It is usually a big shame for a potential employer to call a certain organization seeking to talk to your reference only to be told that the person moved office many months ago, or the title indicated no longer applies.


  1. In Kenya getting a job is hard and very competitive, though i agree with you applicants are sometimes torn between withholding information that has been requested or giving everything. In case of referees I have heard a potential recruiter say that if you don't share your referees then that means that you are hiding something. Job seekers try to give as much as information asked as possible to have a better chance of getting the job. We have head cases where application are eliminated based on the fact that they didn't follow the application guidelines even the simplest like the font size to use.

  2. I am currently a job seeker, what if a potential employer decides to leave me out since he has to go through the extra work of calling me to get my referees contact information?

  3. Thanks Achieng...with regard to the employer leaving you out for failure to have the referees contacts, in practice, most potential employers contact the referees after the interview to verify what they have learnt about you. In the event they want to contact the refs before the interview, employers who feel you have what they are looking for would always request for the contacts. Keeping refs contacts confidential from just anybody is an honorable thing to do.


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