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Writing a winning CV

However, before you will even be invited for an interview, your prospective employer will want to see your CV.

What is a CV?

The term CV is short for the Latin words “curriculum vitae” meaning “course of life” – in other words a summary of your work experience, educational background, and skills. A CV should be short, to the point and easy to read, but should contain all the important information about your education and work experience. 

A good CV is not just a standard template that you use to apply for any position, but it should be adapted to match each position that you apply for. 

Your CV is your personal marketing tool that will secure you an interview – not a job. The more effort you put into this marketing tool, the better your chances that your CV will reflect the “true you” and the better your chances of being invited to an interview.

Why a CV?

CVs are used by recruiters to screen applicants and to compile a short list of candidates for an interview. It could also be used to identify the strengths of different applicants. Never lie on your CV– if you are appointed and it is established that you were not honest about qualifications and/or skills, you could be dismissed.

Application letter

When applying for a job, a covering letter or application letter must accompany your CV. The letter should state that you wish to apply for the job as advertised and briefly say why you think you are the right person for the job.

What should your CV include?

Your CV should focus on your qualifications, experience, achievements and accomplishments. You should illustrate how you are different from other applicants with the same qualifications as yourself and how you will add value to the organisation. You can also mention hobbies and interests, especially if they relate to the job you are applying for.

In short: 

  • Your CV should be a true reflection of who you are what you have achieved and what experience you have gained to date.
  • Your CV should include a concise list of your personal information including your name and surname, your permanent address, your contact numbers and your e-mail address.
  • Your CV should not hastily put together a day before you need to submit it – crafting a CV should be a carefully considered process that takes time.
  • Make sure there are no spelling or grammar errors. When you have completed your CV, ask someone you trust to read it carefully.
  • You must include a list of references, which are people who can be contacted to verify facts on your CV.

The following tips on writing a CV supplied by UNISA Online (www.unisa.ac.za), is an excellent guide for first-time CV writers:

Before you start

  • Why am I compiling this CV? Your aim is to introduce yourself in the most effective way to a prospective employer. Mainly, you will highlight your strengths and accomplishments. You will therefore need to do a careful analysis of your skills and provide examples of your accomplishments.
  • How can I target my CV? Put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter. What kind of skills and experience and qualifications are needed for this job? What is the culture of the organisation? Am I addressing all the requirements for the job in my CV (if you are responding to an advertisement)?
  • What should I include in my CV? Your CV should present evidence of your life experience in a positive way. Do not simply list all your work and educational experiences – demonstrate clearly what you have achieved and the skills you have developed. Maintain a balance between too much information (this will bore the reader) and too little information (this will not do your skills justice).
  • How should I present my CV? Think about your layout, the paper you want to use, and whether you will be submitting this CV on-line or in person. What kind of CV is needed – a 1-page or 2-page CV, or an extended CV with more detail about my skills?

-Louise van Niekerk