09 Oct How to prepare a CV

The most important part of looking for a job, without a doubt, is your CV!   Did you know that your CV has 30 seconds to catch Managements attention! You are your CV and you have to make that first impression on paper last forever!

Firstly, a few general comments before we begin:

  1. Unless specifically asked- forget the two page CV! In all my years of recruitment, I have never been asked for less information on a CV, only more. Ten years ago, when companies asked for faxed CV’s, they asked for two page CV’s, to limit the cost of ink and paper as they were received, and the time the fax machine would be busy receiving them. Time has moved on, and few companies even give a fax number on their adverts. Unless the advert specifically states something different- a five page CV is generally appropriate, and rather pay attention to the size of the files you are attaching to emails. This can become a problem if you are scanning each page of your CV in separately, along with reference letters and certificates.

    2. Follow instructions on adverts and fill in application forms completely. I know a number of companies that place specific requests on their adverts, as “chancers” generally don’t follow them, just randomly send CV’s, and it is also a test to see if a person can follow instructions. If they ask for a 500 word covering letter explaining why you would be suitable for the job, send such a covering letter. If they ask for certain experience to be listed in your CV- list it.

    3. A CV is a professional document, and should appear as such. Sometimes, less is more when it comes to presentation. Font should be easy to read, not typed in capital letters only, have the correct grammar and punctuation, be spell checked, and simple headings and borders should be used.

    4. Personally, I like a photo on a CV. It adds a personal touch and makes your CV more memorable.

    5. Finally, your CV is there to sell you. It should have every fact that you need to get the interview. The personal reviewing your CV, is doing so to determine if you are suitable to interview. To do this, they need all the facts in an easy to read format, and they don’t need to have dialogue and essays about who you are and what you want- dialogue is for the interview!

    Working with the basis of a five page CV, this is a guideline of what you could include:-


Make sure that you CV has all the relevant personal information and contact details, such as:-
Name, Surname, Calling Name, ID Number, Residential Area, Postal Address, phone number, email address, Languages Spoken, If you have a drivers licence and car, how soon you can start and possibly what geographical area you can work in.

Computer Skills: List all the computer packages that you have worked on.
School Education: List you highest level of school education, the school and subjects if you have completed school in the last five years. If you studied accounting or possibly mechanic or technical drawing, this may just score you extra points.

Tertiary Education: List the qualifications you have, dates obtained and training institution with the most recent first. Unless it is essential to the position you are applying to, don’t list all the subjects you studied- this can take pages.

Other courses:- such as first aid, forklift license and health and safety, that are relevant to the jobs you are seeking should also be included.
Achievements may also be listed under the sections above, but ask yourself first, “Is this worth boasting about?” I once had a job seeker state under school achievements that she had raised R19.55 for Save the Babies Fund- is this really her greatest achievement? If you finished school over 5-10 years ago, don’t list all the sports that you played- just provincial or national achievements.

This is the most important section.
• Make sure that each position has the name of the company, the dates you worked there, your position, duties and reason for leaving.
• Your most recent job should be first, working back to the oldest.
• Short temp assignments can be listed to explain gaps in employment, but not in too much detail. Long term assignments can be list like permanent jobs.
• Make sure that you list all your duties in detail, but in point form. The fewer words that you use, the more chance that they will be read. Remember, if it is not on your CV, you never did it! I often get job seekers complaining that they are never short listed for job, and when we investigate, we find that they never mentioned those skills on their CV, so we assumed that they never had them!
• Don’t tell a story. CV’s are about getting the facts across, to get you the interview. Few people short listing literally hundreds of CV’s, will take the time to read a long explanation and story- and most of the time- there are no useful facts about what you actually did in the job in the background story.
• List the last few jobs, or last ten years of work experience in detail, and then abbreviate it. What you did 30 years ago is interesting to note, but not in great detail.
• If you are on the job market for less than five years, then list all the jobs you have had. A school leaver should list waitering, promotions, work experience and clubs at school. Someone who has been working five years or more, should have greater achievements to list.
• Don’t include reference details on people you don’t want contacted, like your current employer who is unaware you are looking for a job.
If you did not email us last month for a free copy of our CV template, and would still like a copy, feel free to email us on [email protected] and we will happily send you one.


Interview Question Tips…

Can you delegate work?  Job seekers will instinctively answer, “YES!” in an attempt to impress.  This is how interviewers will ask the questions in a not so direct way:-



The ability to effectively organize work, including decision-making, through others so that the end result is achieved


  1. Can you trust others to do the work effectively or do you feel that you have to do things yourself to get it done? Can you give me an example from your work history that reinforces this viewpoint?
  2. Can you give me an example of a time when you should have delegated, but due to the fact that you did not, you ended up with unsatisfactory work?
  3. Can you give me an example of a time when you delegated too much and you ended up with unsatisfactory work as a result?
  4. Can you give me an example where you decided to take a chance by delegating work to someone and you were pleasantly surprised by the result?
  5. You mentioned earlier in the interview that you have been working overtime. Can you explain why it has not been possible to delegate the work to a subordinate?
  6. When you went away on your last business trip, what did you do to ensure that the things that needed to be done at the office were done?