As a recruiter I am pretty shocked at how bad most CV’s are!

When entering the job market, your CV is the first contact that you will have with your prospective employer. They decide to meet with you (or not) based on what your CV tells them. If you have taken no care in how you present yourself on your CV, what does that say about you? Remember, the old adage of “first impressions…”

So, let’s have a look at what makes a great CV:

Demographic Information/Cover Page

  • Full Names and Surname
  • ID Number
  • Address
  • Areas where you would like to work


Start your CV with a summary – grab the reader’s attention right away! I love a CV with a summary and so do most employers. It enables us to immediately get a feel for who you are as a person. Because your job descriptions are set out in a point-by-point format, they do not tell us much about you.

Any/all of the following can be included:

  1. A brief overview of your career to date
  2. Your achievements/What you are most proud of
  3. What motivates you or makes you go to work every day
  4. Who are you

It often helps to ask someone, who knows you very well, to help you with or read your summary. They often see traits in us that we don’t see in ourselves and, generally, we are not very good at “selling” ourselves.  I’m not saying that you should brag about yourself but, if you don’t tell your prospective employer about yourself, your achievements or other great things you have done, how will they ever know?


List any and all achievements that you are proud of, whether they were at school, whilst studying or in any of your jobs, if you did not talk about all of them in the summary.


Your qualifications must be in a chronological order, listing the most recent/current first and working backwards. List your qualifications as follows:

  1. Name of Qualification, Year completed, Institution (all the way back to and including Matric)
  2. You may elect to list your subjects under each qualification if you wish, but this is not a must
  3. If you have any incomplete qualifications, you must clearly state this in brackets next to the qualification. It is also preferable to state the reason why it is incomplete. You don’t want the prospective employer to think that you just “don’t finish things” if you had a perfectly good reason for not doing so. Not stating that the qualification is incomplete, is dishonest.
  4. Ensure that you have copies of all your qualifications at hand. You do not need to submit them together with your CV, but you will be asked for them at some point for verification.

Employment History

Your employment history must be in a chronological order, listing the most recent/current first and working backwards. List your jobs as follows:

  1. Position Title, Name of Company, Date started – Date left/Current ( you only need to put the month and year )
  2. Under each job, you need to give a detailed job description. Here it is best to use a point-by- point format and not a summary type description. I have seen CV’s where people have been working at a company for 7 years and they have 3 sentences in the job description. Really? You only did 3 things for 7 years? The other one we often see is “copy and paste” job descriptions – every single job description is exactly the same, which is impossible, since no two environments are exactly the same. Make sure that you take the time to do your job descriptions properly and well. This is, after all, the most important thing the prospective employer wants to see on the CV – the skills you have. Make sure you have everything in there.
  3. From Matric onwards, ever year must be accounted for. So, if you decided to take a year off to travel overseas/ raise children/were ill, you need to put that on the CV, for example:February 2013 – February 2014: I was a stay-at-home Mom
  4. January 2009 – November 2009: I was recovering from a motor cycle accident
  5. January 2007 to March 2008: I travelled overseas
  6. Make very sure that all technology terms are written in the correct format, using capital and small letters where appropriate. You can’t be the technology boffin and not even know how to correctly write the name of your technology. If you are not sure, google it.
  7. Be sure to write down a reason for leaving under all your previous jobs.

Additional Sections

You may be doing additional work in your own private time or researching new technologies that you would like the prospective employer to know about, for example, you may be doing some mobile development in your spare time or teaching yourself C#. You can then create a separate section on your CV to describe what you are doing.

You can create as many sections as you like and put anything on your CV that you would want the prospective employer to know.


It is always a good idea to list some references on your CV:

Name, Position Title, Name of Company, Cell Number, Landline, E-Mail address

Some General Pointers

  1. Create clear sections, as above, on your CV, using bold type or a different font/size, for ease of reference and reading. In other words, make your CV look good
  2. Use the format as set out above. Why? You want a prospective employer to first read about you and your achievements, before they get to your qualifications or employment history. You may not have all the skills/qualifications they are looking for but, having read a bit about you already and liking what they see so far, they may actually still give you a shot whereas, if the summary and achievements are somewhere at the bottom of the CV, the prospective employer has already stopped reading after your employment history and discards the CV.
  3. Always keep your CV up to date. You may have come up with a great idea today that is going to save your company R10 000.00 a month. Do you want the next employer to know about this? Of course you do! But, if you only leave your company in 3 year’s time and then only update your CV, you may well have forgotten all about this by then.
  4. Always ask someone to proof read your CV to check for ease of reading, grammar and spelling.


                                                                                                                 I hope to see only great CV’s from now on!


(c) Wilma Gerber 2016