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Expert tips for drawing up the perfect CV

Image: 123RF/gstockstudio

It's never too late to chase new opportunities, and with the job market what it is, making sure your CV stands out from the rest can go a long way.

Ntando Mkhize, a labour and human-resources and expert from SANRAL, gives us the scoop on some of the do's and don’ts of professional CV writing.


1. Start with your current or most recent work experience.

According to Mkhize, your CV should provide your prospective employer with a clear timeline. Mention your most recent job first. 

2. Use clear headings

Make it as easy as possible for a prospective employer to navigate your CV. Mkhize suggests that you present your personal and professional information under distinct headings, such as "Skills", "Education", and "Language Proficiency". 

3. Include your skills and qualifications

Qualifications refer to official accreditation, such as a matric certificate or a university degree. Skills are capabilities that you have experience doing, such as driving, typing, or managing other people.

4Ensure your CV is the right length

One page is definitely too short, but anything longer than three pages might overwhelm the person reading it. 

5. Keep it clean

Make sure that your spelling and grammar is in order, and that the formatting of your CV is neat and tidy. You don’t want simple errors to compromise your chances of getting the job!


1. Lie on your CV

Mkhize reminds us that embellishing on the facts can have dire consequences. “Should you be hired due to misrepresentation of information, you may be dismissed based on the inherent requirements of the job,” she says. 

2. Handwrite your CV

Handwritten CVs look messy and unprofessional. Type up your CV on a computer, and save a digital copy so that you can email it to recruiters if needs be.

3. Mention your salary expectations

Leave these kinds of negotiations for the interview process.

4. Use slang or colloquial language

You want recruiters to take your candidacy seriously — don’t give them an excuse to dismiss you out of hand.

5. Treat your CV like a biography

Your CV shouldn’t tell your life story; instead, it should be a concise summary of what you have to offer and a record of your work experience.

Try to avoid including unnecessary information: leave details such as your marital status out, as your prospective employer isn’t entitled to this type of information, anyway.

This article first appeared in the September 2017 edition of the Sowetan S Mag

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