How to write a CV: Tips for Mzansi Job Hunters


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Looking to step up in the job market? Your CV is your first shot to show off what you’re all about. Here in South Africa, a sharp CV doesn’t just list your experience—it’s your ticket to catch the eye of your next employer. Let’s dive deep into how to craft a CV that not only showcases your skills but also has that local flavour, making you a top pick for any job.

What is a CV?

A CV, or curriculum vitae, isn’t just a piece of paper with your work history. It’s your professional story that tells potential employers why you’re the best bet for the job. It lays out your skills, experiences, and education, tailored to the gig you’re eyeing.

Layout and Style: First Impressions Count

Let’s talk about the look and feel of your CV:

  • Fonts and Size: Keep it tidy with easy-to-read fonts like Arial or Calibri, sized between 10 and 12.
  • Margins and Spacing: Use standard margins (about 2.5 cm all around) and neat spacing to keep things clear.
  • Length: Aim to keep your CV to two pages max. You want to grab their attention without losing it.

Personal Details: The Basics

Kick off with the key details:

  • Name and Surname: Clearly put your full name up top.
  • Contact Info: Include a reliable cell number and a professional email address. Throw in your LinkedIn profile if you have one.
  • Location: Just your city and province will do; no need for your full street address.

Professional Summary: Your Elevator Pitch

Craft a quick intro that sums up your career highlights and what you bring to the table. Make sure it speaks directly to the job you’re applying for.

Work Experience: Your Professional Journey

This section is the meat of your CV:

  • Order: Start with your current or most recent job and work back.
  • The Details: List your position, the company’s name, and the dates you were there.
  • Your Role: Use bullet points to describe what you did and any big wins you had, like boosting sales or smashing targets.

Education: Where You’ve Learned

  • Lead with your highest qualification and go backward from there. Include the qualification, the place you studied, and the year you finished.
  • If you’re fresh from school or uni, add in any top marks or extra activities that show you’ve got the drive.

Skills: What You’re Good At

  • Tech Skills: These are specific to your job, like software skills or other technical know-how.
  • People Skills: Don’t forget about soft skills like teamwork, leadership, and communication.
  • Match your skills to what the job ad is asking for.

References: Big Ups from Others

  • Include a couple of refs who can big up your work. Always ask them first if it’s okay to list them.

Extra Tips:

  • Customise Your CV: Don’t send the same one to every job. Tailor it for each place you apply to by emphasizing the most relevant experiences and skills.
  • Keyword Smart: Use words from the job description so your CV easily gets picked up by electronic screening systems.
  • Photo? Maybe: If you think a professional photo will help (depending on the job), add one, but it’s not a must.

A CV is more than just a document—it’s a snapshot of your professional path. Put in the time to make sure it’s not just complete but also compelling. Use these detailed tips to craft a CV that’s not only about where you’ve been but also shows where you can go. Get ready to impress and land that job interview!