It should be factual, accurate and concise - packed with vital information to assist the reader in instantly assessing your suitability for a position.
Who knows who will read it? A well written CV might land you the opportunity of a lifetime! A poorly written CV might forever deprive you of one.
Minimum Standards for a good CV
Hereunder the minimum standards a good CV should adhere to to make a good impression:
As a rule of thumb a CV should not be much longer than 5 pages, but not less than one (don't include certificates unless requested).
Start with CURRICULUM VITAE OF JOE BLOGGS
A good, recent professional picture of you (head and shoulders) compliments a good CV. There is nothing wrong with a smile either ☺. The passport size photo should be at the top of the first page, or between "Curriculum Vitae of "and "Personal Details".
Remember that all Headings must start in Capital Letters. They all start with Capital Letters below:
Personal Details: Your CV must contain your Full Names and Surname (and "also known as"), Date of Birth, more than one Contact No (e.g. Mobile, Work, Home), full Home Address (e.g. 28 Seagull Street, Sea Point, Cape Town, South Africa), Marital Status and No. of Dependants, Drivers License.
Education: Highest Secondary Qualification at which School and Year. All Tertiary Qualifications: Qualification achieved; Where and When.
A summary of Relevant Courses may be listed: Qualification, Where and When.
Work History. Start with your Current/Last Position. List the following information: Position, at which Company or Institution, Nature of Business, Period (from MM/YY to MM/YY - state "current" if you are still employed), Duties and Achievements, Reason for Leaving. As a rule it should cover your whole employment history without omitting information.
References: Name, Surname, Landline & Mobile Numbers of at least 3 Referees and your Association to the Referee. You may say "References on Request", but have them ready when requested. Please include referees able to comment on your performance in a work environment over the last 5 years.
A Cover Letter may be included, stating what functions you can perform best and which positions you would like to be considered for, in what area/industry.
When mailing your CV, send it in an accepted format e.g. a MS Word document so that the recipient can easily open the document. Save it as CVSurnameNameDate for easy identification and proper version control.
And lastly - PROOF READ YOUR CV BEFORE SUBMITTING. Put it through a spell checker. And then read it one more time! CVs with spelling and grammatical errors are usually rejected with disdain - one spelling mistake might cost you that job!
CV pitfalls to avoid:
Have you ever read a CV and thought: "Now this is cheesy"? Follow these easy guidelines to not fall into the same trap:
Do NOT populate your CV with fluffy info e.g. "I am a fast learner and like working with people". Everyone says that! Rather state what your actual skills are and in which industry/environment.
Avoid smart fonts, multiple colours or a computer image of a graduation cap, eagle or someone working at a desk on your CV. It does not add value. Keep it neat and simple.
Under "Work History" - do not leave unexplained periods as it begs for answers. Be transparent by stating that you stayed at home to raise children or went on a one year sabbatical.
Do NOT use "neighbourhood slang" or texting language in any CV or correspondence.
Do not type sentences in CAPITAL LETTERS (= shouting in e-language) or forget to use capital letters where appropriate e.g. "i am applying for..." Applying for a job is a formal process - you want to create a good first impression.
Do expand abbreviations - not everybody knows what your version of your abbreviation you refer to. People might think that UFO refers to "Unidentified Flying Object" when you actually meant "Unified Film Organization"!
A separate cover page (CURRICULUM VITAE OF JOE BLOGS) is a nice idea but wastes space and is an obstacle to getting to the important bits.
Do NOT place your real ID photo, the one where you are posing with the lion you hunted last winter or the photo of you and your friends having a drink on your CV. A recent professional head-and-shoulders photo which you feel comfortable with will suffice.
Do NOT rush to complete your CV or submit an old or incomplete CV. It irritates the reader and portrays you as an incomplete person.
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