Tips on compiling your CV

There are some golden rules and exclusions to remember when compiling a CV.

It is important to realize that your CV is usually your potential employers first impression of you, before they actually get to meet with you in an interview process. That is hoping, that you actually make that round!

Therefore it is important that your CV is simple; well constructed, easy to read and contains the relevant information to ‘hook’ the reader and get them intrigued enough to want to meet you personally in an interview.

If you have been selected for an interview – well done! That means that the employer saw something that was interesting in your CV and now wishes to meet with you personally to gain further details or clarity.

Below are some tips on how to get your CV right and elevate your status from being a pile within a CV stack to a person within an interview room.

Keep your CV short and simple!

  1. Recruiters spend 1 -2mins reviewing your CV.
  2. Keep it punchy!
  3. You have a standard CV that you update to tailor the position you are applying for!
  4. Research the company and position.
  • Find out what character traits and experience is required.
  • Update CV and references accordingly.


Have two CV’s on hand

  • Abridged CV: 3-4 Pages
  • Detailed CV : 4- 6 Pages (max)


Your CV must have professional appeal!

  1. Use bullet points and sub-headings.
  2. Avoid long paragraphs and lists.
  3. Use consistent margin and line spacing.
  4. Have more ‘white space’. This means less writing and more thought on layout and design
  5. Complete punctuation and grammar checks.
  6. Check that your present and past tense are consistent with what you are presenting.
  7. Spend time on formatting and visual appeal.


Logical order

Present your information from the most recent information to oldest.

This layout must be consistent for all information presented:

  • Your studies
  • Work experience
  • Computer literacy
  • Achievements and positions held
  • References


Be accurate

  • Re-read and double check dates, facts and chronological order.
  • Double check the name and address of your recipients.
  • Tell the truth.
  • Inconsistencies and ‘gaps’ on your CV amounts to false disclosure.


Cover letter

Unless otherwise stated, always send a cover letter with your CV.

This should include:

  1. Reference to the position being applied to;
  2. Two or three highlights from your work experience;
  3. Your personal contact details;
  4. Simple ending: ‘I thank you for considering my application.’
  5. A cover letter should NOT contain important work experience or qualifications that is not included in the CV.


Include key words

Most CV’s are uploaded onto a website or scanned onto a server. Include some key words so that recruiters can filter your CV.

Key words include:

  • Universally accepted job titles;
  • Buzzwords within relevant industry relating to experience;
  • Character traits that is appealing to the job.

Refer to the job specification to which you are applying and tailor your CV to include some of these ‘key words.’


Keep your CV updated!

Review your CV at least Bi-annually. If you leave updating your CV to every time you are applying for a job – months or sometimes years can pass by and you can usually forget some events that could be applicable for an upcoming job application.

Record any significant events:

  1. Achievements on the job;
  2. Training that you attended;
  3. Update references;
  4. Hobbies; personal motivation statements;


Give your CV some character!

With every word you write, ask yourself, is this the best way to market your brand?

Use compelling words that reflect your personality:

  1. Meticulous,
  2. Entrepreneurial;
  3. Self-motivated.

Tell a story and give detail.

Write in first person. Use word, ‘I’

Example: ‘I helped to increase sales.’

Better: ‘I helped to increase sales levels by 70% over a six month period.’


Curriculum Vitae

“A curriculum vitae:

(CV, also spelled curriculum vitæ) provides an overview of a person’s life and qualifications.

Curriculum vitae is a Latin expression which can be loosely translated as [the] course of [my] life.”


Being a Latin word:

  1. Include within italics and
  2. Write out the word in full.


CV Exclusions:

Leave out of your CV:

  1. Photo’s of yourself (unless you are a professional model)
  2. Clip art on the cover of your CV.
  3. Fancy borders (flowers; artwork etc)
  4. Every vacation and Saturday job you worked (unless applying for the first job)
  5. Every school you attended! Only state the one you matriculated from and year of matriculation.
  6. Salary information (existing or anticipated). This is usually discussed in the interview.
  7. Quotations of other people. You are selling yourself.
  8. Ring or plastic binders; plastic sleeves or folders. CV’s are usually scanned, emailed, or uploaded onto a server. Ring binders usually are annoying to recruiters who have to unbind in order to file or scan.


In Summary

In essence, your CV must be a sales presentation. Your CV is your ticket to the interview!

It is the first impression that an employer / recruiter has of you.

You need to include sufficient detail to ‘get them hooked!