Students, whether at varsity or just finishing school, are unlikely to have completed a professional CV, as a lot of people leave this as a last minute project to be done when a job interview has been secured, or when they begin to look for work.
Nontokozo Zulu of Boston City Campus advises NOT to leave this project to the last minute, and to rather take advantage of the time you have now to complete your CV! After years of experience dealing with job seeking graduates, Nontokozo advises on preparing a professional CV.
1. Be clear and structured
Recruiters will not read all the information. Choose an attractive layout, use paragraphs and clear titles. Make your CV easy to read and interesting
2. Avoid décor – no fancy fonts, no colours. Use a clear black typeface.
3. Be concise -Recruiters are not looking for your life story! Keep your document to 1 or 2 pages, A4 size.
4. Make yourself contactable: Place your personal information and contact details at the top of the first page.
5. Remove unnecessary information -Leave out self-explanatory headings such as name, address, phone number.
6. Emphasise relevant experience if you have it. Example: worked as promoter in retail stores when applying for sales position.
7. Work in chronological order – Write the most recent information first as it is the most relevant. Also, discuss everyday required skills such as language and computer skills, as well as level of knowledge.
8. Personalise your CV for the company and/or position you are applying for. – check that you have addressed the cover letter to the correct person and the correct company.
9. Be professional – choose a template off the internet, keep the CV tidy, brief and clear. Create a professional presentation, space items evenly and break up long paragraphs. Use bullet points instead of sentences.
10. Include a personal statement -A good personal statement is extremely effective. Keep it short, highlighting your level of experience, strongest skills and the personal and professional qualities that make you right for the job. Ask a friend what they see as your strengths and list them. Show your enthusiasm and creativity, your passion and commitment. Try to avoid clichés and buzzwords.
Check! Clarity, spelling and grammar.
11. References should be listed, either an employer, school teacher or mentor.
12. Remember that life experience can be just as relevant as job experience when it comes to many key skills -be creative and list volunteer work, school events, and projects you have been involved in such as charity collections.
13. Don’t forget to highlight professional qualifications and any relevant Continuing Professional Development (CPD) – list training have you undergone recently that shows that your skills are up to date, including short courses such as social media training. This is particularly important if you have been unemployed for a while and the employer is concerned that you could be out of touch in a fast-moving industry.
14. Your CV should be a growing document. File certificates, reference letters and digital badges with your CV so that you have it all easily accessible. Give examples wherever possible, to help the potential employer quickly build a picture of you.
Nontokozo concludes with a reminder, “Always be honest in your CV. Do not set yourself or your employer up for disappointment by claiming to have skills or traits that you do not have. New dispensation means lying on your CV can land you with heavy fines or worse! Create success for yourself by creating an honest account of who you are in your CV.”