CV writing

Curriculum Vitae – Definition
What is a CV?
Comes from a Latin word Curriculum Vitae meaning “story of your life”
It’s a summary of one’s education, professional history and job qualifications
It is your primary marketing tool and is designed to show what you are all about in a compact and easily-digestible form.
The principal purpose of a CV is to secure a job interview but it can also provide a useful structure for that interview.

CV Golden Rules
The order in which you are presenting the information
Highlight that which is most important for the job you are applying for by putting it first
Aim your CV at the job you are applying for
CV should be personal but not over the top
It’s good to make it personal but it should be readable
Have your CV proofread by one or two people to ensure that there are no spelling or grammar mistakes
Secure all your references (check if they are OK to be called)
Make sure your details are up to date.

Why CVs are rejected
First impression – doesn’t attract reader’s attention
Poor visual layout – can’t find relevant information quickly
Length of CV – more than 3 pages
Organising the information on your CV – very hard to follow
Overwritten - long paragraphs and sentences – makes it difficult to read quickly
Too little information – not enough details about your previous jobs/ experience
Not results orientated – doesn’t tell us why you should be hired
Mis-spellings, typographical errors, poor grammar – tiny errors can detract from an otherwise good CV

What are employers looking for?
Employers want to know what you can do for them, the following information will be looked for and should be on the front page:
A 'career objective' - it's about you, what you have done, what you can bring to the job and where you want to go
Appropriate key skills
What new ideas and skills can you bring with you
Who you have worked with
Where you can be contacted

Writing your CV – Important Points
Do mention things you are good at, but do not go over the top. You can oversell your self.
Don't mention things that you are bad at or say negative things about yourself in your CV.
Make sure that the CV you write conjures up the right image of you and your skills, capabilities and achievements.
Don’t use abbreviations - they can be misunderstood.

Elements in the CV
Personal details
Contact details (full name, address, phone number, e-mail)
Marital status
Date of birth
Job Objective
State your job objective next
specific position you want and a special reason why the employer should hire you
You may want to include nationality if you are applying for jobs abroad

List your qualifications and education history
Basic education - diploma, school or university
List in reverse chronological order the dates of your studies by stating clearly:
Dates (years)
Award ( Degree or Certificate awarded)
A short description of what you were trained for, if it’s relevant.
Additional education
List your professional qualifications, membership of professional associations
If you recently completed a college or university degree or PHD or Diploma, etc, then you may want to list the courses you studied
List any work related training courses which you attended, including company courses and any you attended on your own initiative.
You only need to list the important courses you attended
List voluntary or community work - its always good to show involvement

Experience – Job Scope
Indicates the scope of your responsibility in each of your previous jobs
Start with your most recent position- the title you last had or currently hold
The dates of your previous employment in reverse chronological order, for each of your previous jobs write 3 lines that show
Job title
Years you held the job
Roles tasks and responsibilities
Who you reported to directly or indirectly
Who reported to you and how many people they were
Skills & Achievement
List any computer skills you have, including the make and type of equipment you are familiar with, the software and operating system used
List foreign language skills - indicate whether your skills are spoken, written, business or technical, level of fluency Accomplishments (very important)
The Skills and Achievement is the “Heart” of your CV – It shows for each of your previous jobs:
The concrete action you took and why you took it
The specific result of your action – the “Payoff”
Indicate your worth in each of the positions you held

Hobbies & Referees
List your interests, hobbies and any sports you play. List any positions of responsibility you hold or have held in any club or organisation, and say what your responsibilities and achievements were.
There is no need to put fifteen examples, its just to show a bit of your personality and to give a human touch to your CV
List the people who have had a working relationship with you
Include their job titles and also how they can be contacted (telephone numbers)

Who should be included in a CV
Using Referees - Defination & Purpose
Referees are people who have had a working relationship with you – those who have closely worked with you
Provide further information about you that was revealed in your CV ie point out position traits while focusing on work ethics, accomplishments skills and significant contributions
They make a broad characterisation of the applicant and their demeanour
They disclose any other information that you might have omitted in the CV i.e. Theft, drugs, bad behaviour etc.
They recommend either to hire strongly or otherwise

Choosing Referees – A few good tips
Choose people who have a working relationship with you - they should have known you long enough
Don’t list your father, mother or sister as a referee cause they tend to be biased about you
Inform the people who have chosen as your referees that you have included them in your CV as referees
Give the referees good information about yourself and which jobs you have applied for
Indicate the type of working relationship they have had with you

Common Pitfalls in CV writing, What you should leave out
Photos – only passport photos should be included
Any sort of failure - exams, marriages, businesses, etc.
Reasons for leaving each job.
Salary information - this can only be used to reject your application.
Fancy patterns/borders - these detract from your presentation
Title pages, binders and folders are usually unnecessary
Leave out age (put in date of birth instead), weight, height, health, or any other personal information that is irrelevant to your application.
Do not use poor quality photocopies of your CV

Writing a good CV – Useful Hints
Indicate a telephone number
Make sure to present your qualifications using powerful key words
Indicate your worth for each position you held
Produce a new CV for each job you are applying for gearing your job objective and “worth” statements to the job you want.
Keep your CV precise and understandable listing all the relevant information
Make your CV scannable
Double check all the details to make sure they are 100% accurate.

Types of CVs
There are a variety of types but the main 4 are:-
Performance CV - shows your employment history in reverse chronological order, with your most recent job first
Functional (Skills) CV - highlights the main functions and achievements of your whole career
Targeted CV - emphasizes your abilities and achievements which are directly relevant to a specific job target
Alternative CV - suitable for creative careers in, for example, writing, public relations and fashion design.

Performance CV
Employment history is shown in reverse chronological order, with your most recent job first.
Job titles and company names are strongly emphasised and duties and achievements are described under each job title.
Useful when seeking a job which is directly in line with your past experiences or if your last employer was a household name.
The Performance CV highlights a list of your major achievements near the start of your CV.
This format is prefered because it is easy to see who you have worked for and what you did in each particular job.
Functional / Skills CV
This type of CV highlights the main functions/achievements of your whole career
It can therefore be very useful if you have had a varied career or you are seeking a change of career direction.
In this format, job titles and company names are given less dominance or even omitted in some cases.
Used if you want to emphasise abilities and achievements that have not been used in your most recent job(s) or if you are changing career direction.
However this is an unusual CV format - may not be liked by everyone and can only be used if your job has only a limited number of functions.

Targeted CV
Emphasizes your abilities and achievements which are directly relevant to a specific job target.
It is best used when you are planning a change of career direction or in cases where:
You have had a large number of jobs and you would prefer to describe the experience you have gained in total.
You want to include voluntary/unpaid experience.
Your work history has been patchy in recent years
You have several completely different job targets and you need a CV for each.
Main disadvantage is that it doesn’t show what your roles and responsibilities were and how you achieved all that you did

Alternative CV
This sort of CV is suitable for creative careers in, for example, writing, public relations and fashion designers.
It is not suitable for senior managers/executives who would be better advised to use the Performance CV.
Its usually used where the job requires exceptional talent in either the written or visual mediums
Not to be used if: If you are planning to apply through normal channels such as advertised vacancies/the Personnel Department.
This CV format may fail utterly if your ideas are not well received by the recipient of your CV.

Sending a CV as an attachment
Guidelines :
Use font size no smaller than 10 and no larger than 14
Don’t use italicised type, and don’t underline words
Use Font styles that work best for CVs and can be well read such as Verdana, times new roman, courier etc
The CV should be sent as an attachment either as a word document or as a PDF and not as an email.
Make sure the CV is protected
Don’t put a password

Types of CVs - Summary
To get yourself noticed, it is important to use a CV format which will best represent you in the jobs market.
In general the Performance CV works best for most people, assuming that you are staying in the same field.
If this format is unsuitable for you then you could try either the Functional or Targeted CV formats and see which reads/looks better for you.
Even if you create a Performance CV for yourself, there are times when a Functional/Targeted CV may help you secure an interview when a Performance CV would fail.
Do I need a CV?
Yes. There are however the odd exceptions:-
if you only apply for jobs using SAF (Standard Application Forms - usually only applicable if applying to embassies i.e. USA)
If you only apply for jobs online
If you are incredibly experienced and your name speaks for itself
Does the 'perfect' CV exist?
No, ultimately it is down to the employer's personal taste which obviously you can't gauge, however you can take note of the above advice to make your CV as near perfect as you can.
Is there a standard CV?
No but there are of course key pieces of information that need to be included on all CVs and a number of different types of CVs (see above sections.)
How long should my CV be?
Three pages, Unless you have specifically been asked to provide a 4 page or single page version
What should I include in my CV?
The general, though not definitive, order of a CV is:-
Personal Profile
Employment history
Non production employment history
Additional information
What is the right CV for me?
We would strongly advice that you use the Performance CV wherever possible
however if you are recent graduate with no commercial experience a Targeted CV
might be more appropriate. For example you can highlight future related skills that
you may not have had actual work experience in

Appendix - Some good CV Hints
Have a personalized layout and make it look unique
Be creative but stay within the limits
Try to think about what is most important for the job you are applying for
Aim your CV at the job you are applying for
Double check all the details and make sure they are 100% accurate
Include the most relevant information – clear & concise

An awful CV can make u lose out

Never ever lie in your CV, this will always be discovered and will eliminate you immediately
Don’t copy a template you find on the internet
Avoid overcrowded pages, difficult to read pages and typographical errors

Writing your Cover Letter
Cover letter – defination & format
A cover letter is a document sent with your CV to provide additional information on your skills and experience.
A cover letter typical provides detailed information on why are you are qualified for the job you are applying for.
Use business letter format, block style, with everything beginning at the left margin.
If mailing, use the same good quality paper as your resume.
keep it brief and concise – should not be more than one page
Cover Letter Formulation – AIDA
Your cover letter is your selling document – it’s your Advert. Like any other advertisement, the essential details must register at a glance.
A – Attention (attract attention to the Cover letter or recruiters may ignore it)
I – Interest ( develop interest in the cover letter by the nature of the way you present it)
D – Desire ( create desire by highlighting your “worth” in each of the positions you held)
A – Action ( make sure your cover letter prompts action)
Cover letter - tips
Always address the letter to a specific person. Write each cover letter specifically for the company and/or position you are seeking.
Begin with the purpose of your letter, stating the specific position or type of work you seek.
Second paragraph
Tie your qualifications to what you know about the position or organization.  Refer the reader to the CV for more details. 
Tell them why you are interested in this field or company.  
Closing paragraph  
Request the next step in the employment process:  an interview.
Be positive in your attitude; expect an appointment or a response.

Going for the Interview
Types of Interviews – structured interview
Structured Interview - Competencies
- The employer identifies the competencies (skills, abilities and experience) required for the role.
- They design the questions to test whether the candidate has these competencies. The questions are often phrased, "tell us about a time when."
How to handle it
Review the job description / advert.

Identify the types of skills, abilities and experience required for the role. (This may need lateral thinking).

Think of examples in your career where you have demonstrated these. It may help to make notes.
This means you'll be well-prepared for any competency-style question they ask
Types of Interviews – behavioral job interview
Behavioral job interview (situational job interview)
- Behavioral interviews are trying to identify how you would act in certain situations.
- The interviewer wants to be able to predict how you would behave in the role, if they recruited you.
- So they ask hypothetical questions. These might be about a time in your past, or asking you to imagine yourself in a future situation.
How to handle it
It's difficult to second-guess which questions might come up. So the best advice is to:
Prepare as for Structured Competency Interviews
Listen to the question. Make sure you have understood it. Take a moment to think about what they're looking for.

Give an honest answer, but make sure you remain positive. If possible, back up your answer with an example.
Types of Interviews – Telephone Interview
Telephone Interview
- This type of remote job interview can be a first point of employment screening.
- Although this may seem daunting, it's actually a good thing. It means your CV or resume impressed the recruiter enough to want to find out more.
- If you're called to a face-to-face interview, it means they're serious about you and not wasting your time.
How to handle it
Prepare as you would for a face-to-face interview.
- Dress smartly and arrange a time for the call when you're not at work and can finish the interview without interruptions.
- Be able to clearly explain why you think you're a suitable candidate.
- Pay special attention to the interviewer's tone of voice.
- Make sure you focus your attention on the interviewer and don't get distracted by other things in the room.
Types of Interviews – Panel Job Interview
Panel Job Interview

Sometimes employers want candidates to be seen by a number of managers or peer-workers. A panel interview simply means a candidate meets multiple interviewers at once.

They may play the "Good cop / Bad cop" routine, where one of them is aggressive and another sympathetic, to see how you perform under stress.
How to handle it
- Prepare as for a normal interview. Don't let the thought of multiple interviewers stress you out.
- Focus on the person who asked you the question, but make good eye contact with all of them.
- Don't be put off if one of them seems grumpy. But don't be lulled into a false sense of security if one seems very friendly.
Types of Interviews – Technical Job Interview
Technical Job Interview

This usually refers to a "hands-on" interview. For example, an engineer might be expected to do some analysis of an engineering problem; a market researcher might be asked to analyze some data; a sales person might be expected to make a mock sales call.

This type of interview is designed to predict how you would perform in the role.
How to handle it
As long as you have the relevant experience, you should be fine with this type of job interview.

Make sure you've fully understood the brief and keep your cool.

If in doubt, ask them to clarify what they're looking for.

What are employers looking for?
Employers will make a decision whether to hire you based not only on your qualifications but also on whether your personality will fit in at their company
Interviewers need to be convinced that you will be able to fix their problems and help their companies achieve its goals
Employers want to surround themselves with right employees who want to work for them, are trustworthy and productive with the least amount of supervision
Interview Golden Rules
You have only one chance to make a good first impression
The way you present yourself should reflect a highly polished and professional image
The interview is the time to make a personal statement with the way you dress
- Your goal should be to show that you respect the interviewer’s values, tastes and expectations relative to dress and personal manner

- Be personal and professional – smile, look the interviewer in the eye, engage in a two way conversation
- Listen carefully, respond thoughtfully and don’t digress into personal details
- Make sure your details are up to date.

Common mistakes at the interview
Arriving late for the interview – late arrival for a job interview is never excusable. If you are running late make a telephone call to the company and let them know.
Answering cell phones during the interview or leaving it on during the interview.
Discussing family issues or personal problems or any sort of failure - exams, marriages, businesses, etc.
Acting as though you can take any job – desperate for employment
Saying negative things about former colleagues, supervisors, or employers
Preparing for the interview
Prep. for the interview – Important Points
Do take a practice run to the location where you are having the interview – be sure you know exactly where it is.
Do your research and know the type of job interview you will be encountering – don’t memorize or over rehearse your answers.
Do plan to arrive about 10 minutes early – late arrival for a job interview is never excusable.
Do bring extra CVs and original copies of your qualifications to the interview.
Don’t rely on your CV or application to do the selling for you.
At the interview – Important Points
Do greet the interviewer (s) by title – Ms., Mr, Dr, etc.
Do shake hands firmly. Don’t have a limp or clammy handshake. Remember eye contact
Do wait until you are offered a chair before sitting – do remember body language and posture. Sit upright and don’t fidget or slouch
Do avoid using poor language especially slang – make sure your good points come out in a factual manner
Use examples of your career success stories while answering the interviewer’s questions.
After the interview – Important Points
Do ask intelligent questions about the job, company or industry.
Do a final sales pitch of yourself. And ask about the next step of the process
Do try and get business cards from each person who interviewed – or at least the correct spelling of their first and last names
Do immediately take down notes after the interview concludes so you don’t forget crucial issues
Use examples of your career success stories while answering the interviewer’s questions.
Dressing for the interview
Dressing for the interview – Men
A conservative business suit is almost always the rule – well tailored or fitted suit coat and trousers is a professional look
Acceptable colours continue to be darker shades and hues including greys, blues (navy) and black
A plain white shirt or off-white shirt is always a winner- in most cases either a loose or button down collar is fine
Neckties should also be conservative – patterns should be uniform and subtle, whether stripes or small dots
Have your shoes shined if not new – laced shoes are the general rule. The colour of your socks & belt should complement or match the rest of your outfit.
Dressing for the interview – Women
Dressing in a conservative business suit is the best way to present a professional image – well fitted & makes you feel good about yourself
Your blouse should compliment the suit in conservative fashion – see through blouses are discouraged for the professional interview
Shoes should be sensibly selected in a way that is not intended to make statement – very high heels and open toes are better left for other activities
Hair should be of a conservative style and not look like you have spent hours caring for it
Fingernails should be trimmed & hands clean. Jewellery & cologne should be kept to a minimum

Be personable & professional
Smile, look the interviewer in the eye
Engage in a two way conversation
Listen carefully and respond thoughtfully
Use your career success stories to answer the questions
Do stress your achievements
Answer specifically – clear & concise
Ask questions when given the opportunity

Don’t try to make a personal statement

Don’t digress into personal details
Don’t be soft spoken, a forcefully voice projects confidence
Don’t ever lie. Answer questions truthfully, frankly and succinctly.
Don’t tell jokes during the interview
Good luck in securing your dream jobs!