As in most cases, first impressions always play an important role. The lay-out and appearance of your CV are therefore extremely important and create a positive feeling or not regarding your application.
Your CV should be attractive and creative, but also remain professional and structured. It is also very important to make sure your CV is easy to read, the information is clear and everything follows a logical order. Use good and understandable language and don’t try and make it too complex. Spelling mistakes in a CV is an absolute no-no; it therefore is of paramount importance to ensure that the spelling in your CV is correct and that someone has proofread it. Also rather stay away from pictures on your CV, as it could easily appear unprofessional.
Your CV should furthermore create a clear image about you and convey the message that you wish to present about yourself effectively. See it as an advertisement about yourself. Begin by giving personal information, among others your name and surname, age, marital status and especially contact details. The latter is very important.
Now indicate where you matriculated and your matric subjects, the leadership roles you played, as well as your relevant achievements. Primary school information is not necessary, but may be provided should it be relevant to the position for which you are applying. Stipulate furthermore all qualifications obtained after school, for example a degree for which you studied and/or experience gained. However, use your judgement and list at least the courses that are relevant to the post for which you are applying. Make sure your work experience forms a time-line when listing it and specific dates must be provided. Indicate the period of employment with each company, what your duties were, why you left the company and of course the name of the company. Place your last/current employer first and work back from there on.
One of the most important things to remember is that you have to be honest at all times. Never embellish your capabilities, achievements and qualifications to make them appear better than they really are. Integrity and ethics are very important in any workplace and as soon as the employer suspects that you lack these qualities, you will not be considered for the post. A reference, someone who is in a position to provide information regarding your work experience and qualifications, will in most cases be contacted before you are made an offer. If you have been dishonest on your CV, it will readily come to the fore during this process.
A CV should generally be short and sweet. However, it is recommended that you compile two CVs, a shortened version and a longer, extended one. When you compile your CV, keep the post for which you are applying in mind and make sure you provide information relevant to the post. Always try to look at your CV from an employer’s point of view. Adapt your CV to the type of company you are applying to. If, for example, it is an Afrikaans company, write your CV in Afrikaans. If it is a German company, indicate that you had German as a school subject or became proficient in German from childhood.
Also make sure you comply with the instructions in the advertisement. Do they for example require a three-page CV or a more detailed CV? Must a reference number be used on the application or just the post designation?
A covering letter is also very important, in which you briefly state something about yourself, indicate what kind of person you are, the reason why you are applying for the specific post and why you would like to work for that particular company.
Mentz, M. 2011. “Laat jou CV die praatwerk doen: Jou CV word as ’n advertensie van jouself gesien”. http://220.127.116.11/argief/berigte/beeld/2011/07/27/Media_24_Bylae/2/MMBeroepe2.html
Netwerk24, 2014, “Laat jou CV so die oog tref: maak seker jy maak binne sekondes ‘n indruk”, http://www.netwerk24.com/nuus/2014-01-17-lat-jou-cv-s-die-oog-tref