Write a CV that WOWs. Get a Job Interview

How to Write a CV that knocks their socks off!

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A Curriculum Vitae is a brief account of one’s previous career, or capabilities, in the case of a school leaver or new entrant into the job market.

The purpose to write a CV is to get you AN INTERVIEW.

Your Curriculum Vitae is the tool you use to persuade an employer to offer you that all important interview.

When applying for a vacancy, you generally first have to send your Resume to present yourself to the prospective employer.

Treat your CV as an advertisement, or marketing for yourself. Why should the employer choose you? Put this question to yourself and write a CV in such a way that the answer should be evident.

Your CV is your first impression and should invite the prospective employer to know you better and make it obvious that you are the right candidate for the job. It should be written specially with that organization in mind.

Indicate where your talents and qualification fit the particular job's requirement. Remember, the prospective employer may get hundreds of applications so make sure the recruiter is able to identify the main points within 30 seconds. The neatest, most organized, and brief Curriculum Vitae will attract attention.

Stand out against the competition (the other candidates) and get the manager to want to talk to you for a possible job.

Your CV is the key to get to the next stage, the job interview.

Guidelines: What to include when you write a CV.

  • Write Your Name(s), Surname and contact information on the first page.
  • Start the CV with your objectives, followed by a very short personal profile of three to four lines, that sums up your key experience, goals, skills, achievements, motivations and qualifications to highlight ‘why you feel you are the right candidate for the job’. Ensure that a little of your personality is also conveyed.
  • List your job experience mentioning your last job first and your first job last, i.e. reverse chronologically. Your job title is the most important in your work history so list it first, followed by the employer, city, and start and end dates of the employment.
  • List your achievements in bullet point. Expand only if directly appropriate or exceptional.
  • Make a list of special skills training, other specific experience, or volunteer work.
  • Present your qualifications starting with the highest degree and working backwards. List the name of the qualification (don't use abbreviations), the institute, city, completion date, and the majors.
  • Write about your hobbies and areas of personal interest.
  • Indicate if you can speak and write other languages.
  • Published material: If you are the author of a book, include the ISBN number. List published books or articles with dates and publishers, magazines, newspapers, manuals, white papers or other documentation.
  • Indicate if you have done any talks or presentations, when (dates), and whether it was done nationally or internationally.
  • Highlight salient points.

Create a Master Curriculum Vitae

For best results, write a master CV in your computer that can be changed quickly to fit any job requirement. Keep it up to date and include all aspects of your professional and personal growth. Then, whenever you need, you can pick those traits which are best suited to a particular job.

Keep your Resume up to date so you can produce a professional looking document in a very short time without missing out anything.

Make your Curriculum Vitae an interesting introduction document

You must be aware that a CV is the key that unlocks the gate of the company for you. You want the job, you are ready for it – but have your really got the right key? How do you make your Resume an interesting document?
(For example the employer wants a good Secretary, what skills would be essential, what qualifications would be attractive, what achievements would be most impressive for this profile, what traits would be best for this job, etc. – all these should be highlighted and clearly evident in your CV).


  • DO: Write a new Curriculum Vitae for each job. Design it specifically to answer and highlight the relevant information about yourself with regards to the job requirements.
  • DO: Make your CV completely tailor-made for the job (and enhance your chance as the best match) you need to:
    • Research about the job in general (what it involves as responsibility, qualifications, growth, and goals) to know exactly what the employers are looking for so you can best match your talents to those particular requirements to show you as one of the most eligible for the job applied for.
    • Research about the prospective company (its goals, its products, its financial get-up, its past success, its future plans)
  • DO: Highlight clearly what value you can add to the job and the company so they can appreciate the value addition you would bring in. Employers are interested in how you can solve their problems! Work experience should therefore focus on your achievements and accomplishments, and should highlight the benefits that your work has had for an organisation. Back this up with facts and figures where possible.
  • DO: Keep abreast of technology. Be aware of market trends regarding the latest technology, latest training, latest jargons that are relevant to the job.
    However, remember the person doing the selection is probably in the Human Resources department and not necessarily versed in the technology, so make sure it is reader friendly to as many people as possible.
    Avoid using abbreviations, acronyms or obscure terminology. Your employer may not be familiar with them.
  • DO: Keep it interesting and to the point, with short sentences if you need to elaborate, and bullet points when you need to list.
  • DO: Use the right form or formatting applicable to that company, region or country where appropriate, as incorrect formatting often leads to rejection.
    • Avoid complex formatting, shading, boxes and stylised fonts.
    • Use a standard and easy readable font like 11 pt Arial or 12pt Times New Roman.
    • Should be well presented and laid out, with lots of white space.
    • Avoid using long paragraphs and sentences.
  • DO: Print on a good quality paper, typically 100gsm in weight and watermarked.
  • DO: Keep it short and sweet; not more than 2 pages.
  • DO: Keep your Resume honest and factual.
  • DO: Sell yourself and be positive.
  • DO: Avoid spelling mistakes or grammatical errors.
  • DO: Use words such as negotiated, collaborated, marketed, campaigned, created, completed, controlled, managed, supervised, started, sold etc., rather than 'worked'. Avoid the use of words such as 'duties' or 'tasks' when you write a CV.
  • DO: Check your Resume. Then, before you send your job application to the organization, ask a teacher, Supervisor, senior person or colleague (preferably in the same line in which you are applying), to go through your CV and give you feedback. Do they see you as a suitable candidate? If it is not obvious to them, it may not be written as efficiently as you want it to be. Redo it incorporating the critiques received.
    If you make use of the services of an employment agency they will take a percentage of your salary every month for a year.

Dont's when you write a CV

  • DON’T List your work responsibilities; rather list your achievements in the specific position. You are supposed to be able to do all of the tasks, but what makes you better than the other candidates? Show how you have done more than what is expected and have performed better than your colleagues. Your contributions to the company and team should stand out.
  • DON’T Use 'I' and 'me', instead, simply state the sentence. It is perfectly acceptable to use fragments in a CV.
  • DON’T Highlight so much that everything is highlighted, that defies the object of the exercise.

    No direct fit

    If there isn’t a direct fit, list the job requirements in one column and your work history, skills and experience in a second column, then match them as far as possible so you can stand out and make the recruiter's task a bit easier.

    Avoid including unnecessary information such as:

    • Unneccessary Titles and headings - it should be obvious as to what document this is.
    • Reason for leaving - this will be covered in the interview.
    • Salary details - this can disqualify you before you even started.
    • Photographs - unless it is applicable to the type of work you are involved in e.g. modelling.
    • Weaknesses - never mention what you do not have or what you have not had the opportunity to do yet.
    • References - you can state that they are available on request, but it is inappropriate and unprofessional to include them in your Resume. At the interview or on request give at least two unrelated references. (Make sure your references know that they may be contacted.)
    • Irrelevant information - Marital Status, Religion, Nationality, Children etc. - this has no bearing on your ability to do the job.

      Template to write a CV in MS Word

      In Microsoft Word open a new document, look for online templates and you will see a wizard that will lead you through the process of creating a Resume for yourself.

      If you need assistance to write a CV or want me to make sure you have a compelling Job Application, Please feel free to contact me. Click the CONTACT ME bar on the left hand column.


      MY MOTTO ...If you chase the love of doing something, rather than chasing the money, the money will eventually start chasing you...
      - S Wilker

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