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Tips for Getting your CV into shape

1. Be Honest

Always keep it current and relevantSaying that you have experience in web design when you took an introductory course in high school is going to get you busted in the interview. A good way to mention skills you can pick up easily is to grade them according to experience e.g. HTML experience: Beginner, Copywriting: Intermediate, Facebook: Master.


2. Always keep it current and relevant

Don’t leave your CV to gather dust, keep it updated and put down new, relevant skills that you have obtained and roles that you have filled. List your work experience in the proper order – add your most recent position first. 


3. Market yourself

Highlight your most important qualities. This can be mentioned in your cover letter and in your CV. Tell your potential employer why you bring value to the company with your set of skills and qualities. If possible, include statistics – this is great for sales and marketing positions – mention that you reached your target each month, or that you successfully launched an advertising campaign for a popular brand of clothing which doubled their sales that year.  Also, make sure that this relevant to the position you are applying for. Avoid creating a long, boring list of jobs and duties; instead, mention your role in certain positions/projects you worked on, your achievements in that role and how you overcame obstacles.


4. Proof Read

CVs with glaring spelling and grammatical errors usually get tossed. If you are applying for a job as a content editor or copywriter, your use of English will be scrutinised on your CV, make sure you have read and re-read your CV. Ask a friend to read it once again, a fresh pair of eyes will point out what you might have overlooked.


5. Keep it simple

Unless you are an experienced designer and the position you are applying for requires a portfolio of your work, keep your CV simple and straightforward. Use simple lines, subtle colours and formatting, emphasise the most important parts of your CV such as work experience, education and qualifications. Make sure your font and spacing is consistent throughout your CV and avoid too many graphics – if you are unsure about whether or not to use graphics, don’t use any.  You CV might be need to be printed out, so make sure the document is printer-friendly. 


6. Cover Letter

Apart from your cover letter, do not make the mistake of simply emailing the HR department of a company without taking the time to introduce yourself and mention the position you are applying for – your subject line is important here.  If you are attaching more than 1 document, inform them in the email “I have attached my CV, college transcripts and a creative portfolio…”.


7. Appropriate Communication

Keep your correspondence formal at first before you get to know the company/person you are contacting. Make sure you send your CV from an appropriate email address, don’t use your current work address to apply for other jobs and never ever use a silly email address e.g. . Include your contact details on your CV, but avoid overloading it with all your online profiles, choose one social media profile link in your contact details (Such as LinkedIn).


8. Customise your CV for the job

Do not give your potential employer the notion that you are simply bulk sending your CV out to every agency in the country– even if you are. Personalise, customise and avoid the generic approach to applying for jobs. Take the time to direct your application to the correct person/department and mention the advertised position in your subject line. 


9. Keep it short, but not too short

A lengthy, boring list of your previous jobs, academic results and responsibilities might just be your downfall when applying for a job. There is no rule as to how long a CV should be and there will be a time when you have to decide what to keep and what to cut. Don’t add your Matric results, long lists of hobbies and other irrelevant information unless it is a requirement for that specific job application. Don’t sell yourself short though; state in your email or cover letter that you have attached your college/university transcripts (if required) and copies of certificates are available upon request.  Keep your CV between 2 -3 pages.


10. Lose the ‘Objectives’ section

Many CV/Resume templates offer an ‘objectives’ section. Instead of adding some vague drivel to this often misunderstood section of a CV, delete it; it is a waste of space when you could be mentioning your amazing skills and experience on the first page.  If you absolutely must include an objective in your CV, make sure it is customised to suit the role you are applying for – keep it short, specific and to the point.