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Tips to make your résumé appealing to recruiters

Keep it simple and sophisticated – expert

To secure a job interview, you first need to elequently condense your education and employment history into a couple of pages to position yourself as an ideal candidate.
To secure a job interview, you first need to elequently condense your education and employment history into a couple of pages to position yourself as an ideal candidate.
Image: 123RF

Securing employment in the current climate is a daunting task. According to Statistics SA’s second quarter report, the number of unemployed adult South Africans, including those who’ve given up on seeking work, was at 42,1%. With this in mind, making a positive impression on a potential employer becomes crucial from the onset. To secure a job interview, you first need to eloquently condense your education and employment history into a couple of pages to position yourself as an ideal candidate. 

There are many tips and CV templates that are available online and one would think all of these must simplify the job hunt but it’s the complete opposite. Edwin Reichel, a senior account executive at Flow Communications, who is also part of the CV vetting process, explains that securing the job starts with carefully going through job specifications and checking if you have everything that is required. 

Sowetan asked Reichel a few questions to map out a few pointers to assist jobseekers in the art of compiling résumés that will best market them to their potential future boss.  

Cover letter, motivational letter and email body – do we need all three or are they interchangeable? 

The motivational letter and cover letter are the same thing and should form the body of the email in which you sell yourself. Do not include the motivational/cover letter as an attachment to the email – I will not read it. The (cover/motivational letters) email body should speak to the job specifications and also tell me a little about yourself to get an idea of the person behind the CV.  

There are numerous CV templates available online. How do jobseekers choose the appropriate one for the work they’re applying for? 

The days of including religion, hobbies and marital status are long behind us, so jobseekers must stick to a basic template – the basics always work. Use the internet to find a CV template if you cannot have your CV compiled professionally. You can include a picture of yourself – a headshot is fine, but it is not compulsory. 

What should jobseekers include in their CV and what must they leave out?  

Do include:  

  • a short bio
  • Qualifications (chronologically, starting from the most recent)
  • Work experience (chronologically, starting from the most recent)
  • Other – this includes achievements, awards and memberships of professional bodies

 Leave out:  

  • Religion
  • Hobbies
  • Date of birth/age
  • Salary and notice period
  • References
  • School achievements

How can jobseekers market themselves, without sounding “too good to be true”? 

Use clear, concise language (English) and don’t over-describe yourself or your achievements. Stay clear of overused adjectives such as motivated, creative, passionate, enthusiastic and results-driven. Almost all job applications in South Africa are in English, and for many of us, English is our second language. If that is you and you compiled your own CV, ask someone proficient in English to read over it for you. 

Are references and reference letters still relevant?

You do not have to include this information, but have it handy in case you are asked. And make sure your references are contactable. 

What about additional links i.e., LinkedIn, etc.? 

Including your LinkedIn link is a good idea – it is a great space for additional information that’s not in your CV. Make sure your profile is up to date. If you are a designer or a writer (content creator), a link to your portfolio is also a good idea. Managing your online presence (Facebook, X, Instagram, Threads) is crucial when job hunting. I check online profiles: derogatory comments or inappropriate content will negatively impact your chances. 

Reichel also emphasised the importance of a clear format and a professional font, adding that a well-laid-out résumé is easier to read for the recruiter, who goes through hundreds of CVs daily.  

“And if you remember nothing else, remember the Kiss principle - keep it short and simple; or my preference – keep it short and sophisticated,” he said. 

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