North-West University Career Centre: Services to students
Tips for your job search: Your Curriculum Vitae
Your CV should include this
Basic CV template
Weblinks to CV samples
Your Curriculum Vitae is your marketing tool. The focus should be your skills that contribute to the position you are applying for. Your first impression should be on the mark. You will not get a second chance at making a great first impression. The idea of a CV is to get you an interview and your foot in the door. Your CV should reflect your occupational and educational highlights, as well as important personal information, key skills and qualifications. Your CV is your own personal advertisement where you illustrate your skills relevant to the type of work you are seeking. Use your CV as a marketing tool to sell yourself to a prospective employer. Consider the following tips when compiling your CV:
• A potential employer will only spend 10-40 seconds reading your CV.
• Be prepared to tailor your CV to a specific position – the more closely you can match the requirements, the more likely you are to get an interview.
• You are competing with every other CV in the stack, so you want to stand out in a positive way.
• Do not assume that you know the best way to present yourself – find resources on CV writing and learn from the experts.
• What interesting facts might set you apart from the crowd.
• Do not misrepresent any aspect of your background.
• Keep your CV concise and to the point.
• The paper quality and presentation of your CV is vital when selling yourself.
• Check for spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors.
• Avoid graphics and colours & long sentences – less text is easier to read.
Personal detail: Your full name & surname, telephone numbers, email address, nationality, age, languages, physical and postal addresses and driver’s licence if applicable.
Career objective: An objective gives focus to your CV – the reader will know immediately what you are looking for and if you are a good candidate for the advertised position. This is the section where you must impress the reader of the CV.
Educational information: List brief details of your academic qualifications, starting with the most recent achievement/qualification. List the degree, diploma, matriculation as well as the year and institution. The older you are the less important your school information will become. It might not be necessary to include the school subjects. Indicate your interest for the immediate future. What are you looking for now It is also important to include all of your achievements while you where studying. List competitions won, awards received, leadership positions you served in, chairperson of committees. End this section with a short sentence about your extracurricular activities that you participated in.
Work related experience: List your most recent experience first, continuing in reverse chronological order. Use short sentences, positive language and highlight relevant achievements. Mention positions held, companies you worked for and also include the dates. Ensure that you include your part time, volunteer and vacation work. Detail the skills, abilities and experiences you acquired during your work experience. Because you want the reader to find information quickly you will need to organize your experiences in categories. Possible category headers are : Relevant experience, Volunteer experience, Teaching experience, Lab experience, Community service, Clubs/Organizations, Awards, Other achievements.
Skills: It is important to match your skills to the job you are applying for. A CV highlighting relevant skills and experience will boost your chances of getting an interview. For different job applications, you should tailor your CV to each job. Detail specific skills you have gained and also their relevance to the job you are applying for. The ability to work on a computer is a key skill. List all the programs you are able to work with as well as your proficiency level on each program.
Referees: If this is your first job, it would be wise to nominate tutors or mentors as your referees. Always check with referees that they are willing to provide information about you before you include them in your CV. You referees should be able to answer questions on your achievements, work ethics and your personality.
Presentation: Choose quality paper and ensure the layout is good. The CV must be easy to read and visually appealing – avoid using excessive underlining, bold italics, long paragraphs and multiple fonts. It is a good idea to use bullet point lists. First impressions matter.
• Keep it short, concise, easy to read and straightforward – focus on content, not length
• Check for typing, spelling and grammatical errors
• Adjust your CV to fit the specific job you are applying for
• Focus on the job and ensure your CV is relevant. Make sure the relevant experience and skills stand out
• Keep the reader in mind
• Be positive and relay your strengths
• Include a career objective
• Include a cover letter
• Demonstrate that you understand the nature of the job being advertised and explain why you want to work in that area
• Highlight briefly how your skills and abilities fit the vacancy
• Research the company before you compile your CV
• Print on quality paper and ensure the layout is good. Also print the cover letter on the same paper
• Limit the use of the personal pronoun ‘I’
• Do not send the same CV to every job application
• Don’t describe duties – focus on achievements
• Don’t use lengthy sentences. Rather use a bullet list for an easy to read format
• Don’t exaggerate or lie
• Don’t have gaps – explain gaps in your educational and employment history
• Don’t give relatives as references
Visit the following links to find CV & Resume samples:
Updated by Hope Abrahams on 21 January 2013.