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Writing a CV that Works

Written by Joy Dembo. Posted in Archive

I was musing the other day about exactly how many CVs I have screened in the 30 years I have been in the recruitment industry, and I just can’t come to a reasonable figure.  But, suffice it to say, it has been many, many thousands maybe even hundreds of thousands!

I have seen them all!  Good ones, bad ones, stupid ones, amusing ones, professional ones, exceptional ones, boring ones, short ones, long ones….  The list is never-ending.

So, what makes a good CV a good CV?

Well, from a recruiter’s perspective, I would say that the best CV would fall into a category somewhere between the American resume format and the English Curriculum Vitae format.  In other words, not too brief, but not too detailed.

I have to tell you that a long drawn out CV does nothing for me. When I have 500 CVs in my inbox, reading through pages and pages of superfluous information does nothing for me!  I skip through all the drivel and get to the “meat”!!!

I don’t care whether the candidate played the part of Joseph in the school nativity play or whether he got his Black Belt in Karate in Std 2!  I am only interested in whether he/she can do the job!  And, to this end, I need to make sure that the applicant meets the INHERENT REQUIREMENTS OF THE JOB!

A professional CV should be divided into the following sections:

    Personal Details
    Education
    Experience/Work History
    Additional Info (If applicable)

Personal details should include name, street address, e-mail address, and contact telephone numbers. Marital status, number of dependents, languages spoken, possession of a driver’s licence etc can be added if desired, but are certainly not compulsory, unless they fall into the parameters of the inherent requirements of the job i.e. if the position requires candidates to be in possession of a driver’s licence.  The same applies to age, Date of Birth etc.  Candidates are not obliged to supply this information, as employers are prohibited, by Law, from discriminating on the basis of age, race, gender etc.

Educational Details need not include a full school history.  The highest level reached at school is sufficient.  Subjects taken in Matric should be included, especially if the position demands that the candidate has done specific subjects in Matric.   Details of Higher Education are essential, and these should be as detailed as possible.  Membership of any professional associations should also be included.  Courses undertaken should be included, provided that they don’t take up 3 pages!

Work history is ultra important.  And these should include the company name, length of service i.e. Commencement and termination dates, job title and a brief description of duties, for every position.

Additional information could include hobbies, awards, interests etc.  This is completely optional and by no means mandatory on a good CV.

The font you choose is very important.  CVs should be easy to read.  A good template is also important.  CVs should be neat and legible and the reader should enjoy reading through the information.

Lengthy covering letters are also a no-no!  Why repeat everything that is already in the CV.  It just frustrates and bores a busy recruitment officer.

Lastly, a recent photograph is a very nice extra touch.  I think recruitment officers always relate better to a candidate if they know what he/she looks like.

Fancy borders make for a lengthy printing processes and should be avoided.

Need a professional CV written?  I can help you!  I charge a nominal fee and I can provide you with a CV that will guarantee results!

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