GNcareers, from Gulf News

Revealed: Why UAE recruiters trash your CV

Dubai: Have you been looking for a new job for months now and still haven't gotten any call? With thousands of UAE professionals competing in today’s job market, it is woefully tough for a qualified candidate to even get noticed.

Hiring specialists confirm that amid a stressed economy and limited employment opportunities, finding a new job may seem like an impossible mission.

To increase their chances of landing a new role, jobseekers in the UAE must learn to avoid repeating the same mistakes that many people do when crafting their first line of contact with a potential employer – their CV.

Gulf News spoke to some recruiting experts to gain some insights into what turns off hiring managers most when scouring thousands of resumes.

Ibtesam Maraqa is an associate consultant for manufacturing and engineering at Morgan McKinley in the UAE, a recruitment specialist that attracts up to 20,000 resumes a month. Her job involves separating  the superior candidate from a sea of applicants.

“I browse through thousands of CVs a week, so I need to be very quick at what I do because every minute counts,” she says.

Clutter, inconsistency

One of the things that put her off is the lack of care and planning applicants take with CV writing.

Her interest is often not piqued when she sees a resume that uses inconsistent font sizes, spacing and text alignments, or those that attempt to present qualifications and work experiences in a medley of tables, bullets and numbers.

She doesn’t get interested in CVs that are peppered with stars or stickers, and colourful or microscopic fonts, either.

“There are CVs that present qualifications and experiences through tables, then later shift to bullet points, then to numbered lists. It just looks all over the place that you don’t know what they’re talking about,” she says.

For Maraqa, a badly formatted and cluttered CV does not reflect well on the organisational skills of an applicant and only distracts the reader from the content.

“For me, the consistency shows how professional and organised the candidate is,” she says. “When we try to read quickly and filter out the good CVs from the bad ones, we wouldn’t want to see a lot of clutter- it just disturbs the attention.”

Annalinde Nickisch, HR consultant at the Thought Factory, couldn’t agree more, saying that given the sheer volume of applications they get daily, recruiters don’t waste time reading through the clutter. CVs, therefore, need to be simple, concise, “to the point” and devoid of “nonsense” to get the recruiter hooked.

“Personally, I look for the designation, job responsibilities and qualification. If the CV is cluttered or it’s difficult to find relevant information, I would just drop it and move on,” she adds.

Multiple pages

Another source of frustration is the number of pages. Many UAE applicants, in an attempt to enumerate all the experiences, qualifications and certifications, end up sending copious pages.

“I see a lot of candidates trying to mention way too many trainings that are not even relevant to the position. I’ve read CVs with up to 20 to 30 pages, which is really unacceptable. I would rather just cut out on those trainings, focus on the ones that are significant and give a brief outline,” says Maraqa.

“Ideally, a CV should be no more than two to five pages long. But if it’s really necessary, for example, if a senior candidate has 20 years’ experience, I think it’s reasonable to go up to seven pages. But this is provided you have a long experience. More than that is just too much.”


Every time Maraqa stumbles on some buzzwords, she cringes. “The first thing that would come to my mind is that the candidate is trying hard to prove something,” she says.

“I would rather see specific examples highlighting their achievements, duties and responsibilities.”

The problem with buzzwords, like “ability to solve problems”, “proven team player”, “great leadership skills” is that they’re just too vague.

“For example, instead of just saying he has the ability to work in a team, the professional should provide a brief outline or example of something he did at work to illustrate that,” she suggests.

Nickisch says it’s about time jobseekers realise that the “popular cliché superlatives” have already lost their impact. “I’d rather see applicants present themselves in a more unique way, supported with facts of their achievements, such as targets realised, projects worked on, among others.”

Nada Enan, senior manager for marketing and public relations at LinkedIn Middle East and North Africa (Mena), says applicants will have better chances of getting hired if they provide statistics to demonstrate results or other proofs to support their claims.

“It’s important to remember that we wouldn’t describe ourselves as ‘strategic’, ‘driven’ or as having ‘extensive experience’ in real-life situations,” Enan says.


There have been some discussions around whether it is necessary to put the applicant’s photograph on a resume. Some people are against it because it only encourages discrimination.

There are, however, recruiters like Maraqa who don’t have any issues against using photos. The problem comes when the photo used is not quite appropriate.

“If you have a professional picture, you can put it on there, but we see people who take selfies or photos of themselves wearing sunglasses. That’s definitely not a [proper] picture and even if they’re qualified professionals, it’s a discredit on their part,” says Maraqa.

Done crafting your CV? Now learn The little details that matter in any interview!

Source: Cleofe Maceda, Senior Web Reporter, gulfnews.comGN