Polishing your CV

It’s amazing how the only thing that might be standing between you and obtaining your next job could be a document called a Curriculum Vitae. Even though the structure of a CV has changed over the years, there is still many people  who are still hanging on to the old, lengthy structure that was used long ago. As simple as drafting a CV may sound, there are common errors that might stand against you. Outlined below, are a few tips on how to write a strong CV and avoid some of the common mistakes that might cost you your next interview.

The aim of a CV is to draw the attention of the hiring manager within the first few minutes of reading it and earn you the opportunity to be called in for an interview. This is the point where the rule of “less is more” applies. There is a popular misconception that a very long and detailed CV is attractive to the employer but in reality there is limited room to impress due to time constraints. It is important for you to present yourself effectively within that short space of time by highlighting the relevant skills, experience and qualifications.

Gone are the days of sending a generic CV for positions you apply for in different organisations. Tailoring your CV to the specific organisation and role you are applying for is crucial. Make it easy for the employer to see that you have the necessary experience and qualifications for the role. First read and understand what is outlined in the job description and do proper research about the company you are applying for. This step will help you in tailoring your CV and better understanding the role. It will also assist you in determining which criteria you meet and help you refrain from filling your CV with a lot of information that is irrelevant to the role.

. Go online and look for well-structured CV templates to assist you with the format of a modern CV. This will give you a guideline of the kind of information that is required. Refrain from giving too much unnecessary personal information on your CV as this might hide some of your key points. You also never know where your CV will end up, so rather be cautious with personal information such as ID numbers or your physical address. There are also websites that can assist you in creating your CV and may even cover trends for specific industries.

It is common practice for candidates to include a picture of themselves on their CVs nowadays. This option is at the discretion of the applicant, however, some employers may require you to include a photo depending on the type of job you are applying for. If you decide to include a headshot of yourself, ensure that it is clear and professional image. A normal ID headshot would be ideal in this case, but remember to look clean and neat and don’t forget to smile.

Including a tailored cover letter is an absolute must! A cover letter provides room for you to introduce and present yourself further. If there is information you could not include in your CV, the cover letter is the perfect platform for you to highlight some of your skills and why you are the best candidate for the role. Do not send a generic email to all recruiters but ensure that you include the address of the company you are applying for. This shows how serious, professional and intentional you are about applying for the position.

Ensure that you inform your referees that you have included them on your reference list. This allows them to be prepared if a potential employer decides to contact them. When including your referee, ensure that it is someone you have had a close working relationship with so they will be able to give the employer the relevant information required.

Since different organisations have different expectations and requirements from applicants, creating a CV that meets each organisation’s standards might seem like a tedious process but the benefits of landing your dream job far outweigh a bit of extra time in the preparation. Updating your CV is also a good way of tracking your own progress in your career. Take your time in preparing your CV and remember that this is the first introduction the organisation will have to you, so ensure that you make a great first impression!

Shanelle Mdaka

HR Assistant, Johannesburg


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