6 Guidelines to creating a winning CV

Whether you are looking for a new and challenging job opportunity or you are a recent graduate seeking your first job, a crucial element in your job search is creating a professional CV that stands out and sets you apart. You have between 5 to 7 seconds to catch a recruiter or potential employer’s attention with a standout C.V. Thus, in the Digital Age, creating a winning CV has become a Game Changer that will open doors. We’ve compiled some tips to help you.

1. Structure and Chronological Order

A simple layout with clear headings, makes it easy for recruiters to navigate your CV and access relevant information. Choose a traditional easy to read font style such as Ariel, Calibri or Times New Roman. The ideal font size is 12, however you can use 10.5 if you are wanting to stick to one page – but don’t go lower than that. Use PDF format to ensure your content doesn’t shift and the layout remains clean and legible. Avoid too much white space and keep your CV to a minimum of two pages. Chronological order is an important aspect of a well-structured CV always put the most recent information first.

2. Personal and Contact Details

Contact details are essential and should include your cell phone number and e-mail address. Many recruiters prefer to call as part of the screening process so excluding a cell phone number may result in your application being overlooked. On this note, should a recruiter call at an inconvenient time, politely ask if you can return the call at a later time and then make that a priority. Taking too long to respond creates a negative impression.

Useful personal details to include on your CV are Nationality, ID Number, residential area, languages, driver’s licence, whether you own a car and what your notice period is.

3. Work Experience

Your experience is your main selling point. Incorporate all relevant work experience in reverse chronological order – from current job backwards. Break down each position by adding your job title, company name and dates of employment. A summary of your main responsibilities and achievements should be added in bullet form. Make each bullet point emphasise your worth. Keep sentences short, use action words, focus on key achievements and quantify with numbers where possible.

If you are a recent graduate with little to no working experience, highlight your educational achievements and focus on projects, internships and part-time experience. Once you have work experience and are looking for a senior or intermediate position, exclude internships and part-time work experience from your CV

4. Education

It is important to always include your educational history in chronological order starting with the most recent. South African companies like to know the highest standard you have reached at Secondary School level – Name of School, Highest Standard achieved, and year completed is essential. Including Matric subjects is beneficial. Tertiary education should include name of Institution, Qualification type and start and end dates. It should be noted if one is currently studying or a qualification is incomplete. Any short courses or training relevant to the job to which you are applying for, may be included. Avoid lengthy lists of courses done years ago or in areas that are obsolete. Keep your courses relevant and current.

5. Technical Skills and Tailoring

Tailor your C.V. to the job you are applying for to ensure that your CV highlights your relevant skills and experience. Include all Technical Skills and computer packages. Add links to creative portfolios.

6. Accuracy and Truthfulness

Accuracy is imperative; spelling mistakes and outdated contact details are an absolute no-no. Your CV should be factual and correct; Start and End Dates for Jobs and Education should include month and year. Recruiters are trained to look for and question gaps in a CV so fill in the gaps where possible.

By implementing the above CV guidelines, you are sure to create a professional, quality CV securing you a ticket to the interview shortlist.