Writing a good CV

Writing and setting up your Curriculum Vitae (CV) or résumé is a crucial step in the job hunting process. A good CV can go a long way in supporting your career development and should definitely not be overlooked.

Posted in: Career on June 13, 2016

Writing a good CV

Writing and setting up your Curriculum Vitae (CV) or résumé is a crucial step in the job hunting process. A good CV can go a long way in supporting your career development and should definitely not be overlooked. Your CV or résumé is usually your first point of contact with your prospective employer and it can be a pretty 2-dimensional and unemotional piece of paper. Many of the CVs or résumés that you fire off into the dark reaches of the internet-webs are looked at very briefly – and by briefly I mean glanced at, for a few seconds. That is why it is crucial to take the time to think and tailor your CV and to highlight the relevant information that your prospective employer will consider. Below we have set out a few tips and pointers that will assist you in writing a good CV.

1. Tailor your CV

Sending out a one-size-fits-all CV for all your job applications is a very dangerous and lazy way to approach job hunting. Tailoring your CV to fit your employer will make you stand out from the crowd of CVs piling into the inboxes of the HR department. Tailoring would involve doing some research on the prospective role you are applying for and highlighting your relevant work experience and strengths that aligns with the job. What you could do is use similar wording that your prospective employer uses on their website.

2. Keep it short and simple

HR or your employer don’t have time to read 4 or 5 pages containing droves and droves of detail and irrelevant information. The person reviewing your résumé will look for the information relevant to the job offering in order to ascertain whether you are an ideal match for the position or not. A tip would be to keep your CV to 1-2 pages in length as this will force you to remove redundant or irrelevant information that is merely regarded as noise. Obviously, when you have lots of relevant work experience, you might want to add in another page to demonstrate this, but err on the side of caution. Keep your CV as slim as though it was on the weight watchers program.

3. Insert your name into the header

Make sure that your prospective employer can contact you easily without having to Sherlock Holmes all the way to page 4 of your CV. Insert your name and contact details into the header of your résumé for ease of reference.

4. Include relevant work experience

Omit work experience that is not relevant for the job that you are applying for. Don’t include part-time jobs that you did on the side. In essence, you want to keep your résumé clean and concise – don’t waste space with the pet sitting you did that one holiday back in 2008 for R100 a day.

5. Quantify your accomplishments

Always put a number to your accomplishments. The candidate who says “During my tenure as manager I implemented a cost saving strategy that resulted in savings of R500k during 6 months.” will look way better than the candidate who states “I implemented cost saving strategies at my firm”. Numbers talk and numbers also gives a talking point during your potential interviews.

6. Chronological time

Put your work experience and education in chronological order: put your most recent work experience first. If you have a lot of work experience, be sure to cut down on the space that your education section takes up in your CV. Rather than saying you studied Baccalaureus of Commerce in the field of Accounting at the University of Pretoria and ended up in the top 5% of your class with distinctions in all your subjects, state that you studied BCom Accounting at UP, with distinction. Short, sweet, to the point.

7. Hobbies and interests

Don’t list your hobbies and interests. At the end of the day your employer isn’t hiring you because you jog on the weekends or play guitar. Focus on demonstrating to your future employer that you can add value to their organisation.

8. Proofread and proofread

If a potential employer finds a mistake on your CV or résumé you can almost be assured that it will find a new home in the trash can. Take the time to read and re-read your CV; send it to friends and family for them to read as well. You have literally hours and hours to tailor and polish your CV, so make sure that it is immaculate.

These guidelines will give you some of the basic things to think about when you tailor your CV. Don’t become despondent in your search for your ideal job. Rome wasn’t built in a day and expect many rejections and periods of silence. Regularly update your CV and keep on knocking on all the doors available to you.


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