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Eight steps to a successful CV

We’ve all had practice to draw up a ‘mock CV’ during Life Orientation in school and some of us were lucky enough to get help from family and friends. When it comes to applying for an entry level job, your CV could be the golden ticket to get you started in the working world. Compiling a CV can be one of the hardest challenges when it comes to job hunting and most employers spend a few seconds scanning each CV they come across.

Creating a CV is easy once you know how. It’s all about emphasising your skills and experiences, and tailoring them to the job post that you want to apply for. Allow us to share a few helpful tips in creating a successful CV.

  1. Keep it real!

A CV should be no longer than 2 A4 pages. Just 2 pages you may ask? Yes! There are plenty of free CV template websites on the internet for you to choose from that can help you tailor your information into just 2 pages. Employers spend an average of 8 seconds scanning through your qualifications and previous experience you may have gained. Keep it to the point and save the additional ‘wow’ factors for the interview.

  1. Tailor it!

We’ve all done this before – sent out the stock standard CV to every job post that came our way because it saved us time and effort. Stop! Take the initiative and time to change your CV for each position you apply for. Research the company and identify what they’re looking for and thereafter identify skills that you may have to offer in line with the job post.

  1. Skills and Experience

Under the ‘Skills’ Section of your CV, mention skills that will help you stand out from the crowd. These skills could be; computer skills, communication skills, team player, problem solving or even speaking a foreign language. Think of the types of skills you have accumulated over the years, whether they have come naturally or whether you’ve learnt a skill – it’s absolutely relevant! When describing the experience you have gained, use assertive and positive words like ‘developed’, ‘organised’, ‘conducted’ or ‘achieved’. For example: “The work experience involved working in a team,” or “This position involved planning, organisation and leadership as I was responsible for a team of people”.

  1. Keep it current

Always keep your CV up to date. As you complete a course, graduate or take on a voluntary job, it needs to be added to your CV as soon as possible so you don’t forget when the time comes to start sending out your CV again.

  1. Spelling, sentence construction and punctuation

Employers do look for mistakes in your CV, weird, I know! If you happen to have any of the above errors in your CV, it could make you seem unprofessional, sloppy and lazy, and it could make the employer less enthusiastic about contacting you for an interview.

  1. Honesty is the best policy!

Lying on your CV could land you in a whole lot of trouble. As much as you want that entry level job, it’s best to always tell the truth and not lie. It’s more of an accomplishment to land the job by being honest and letting the employer know that they can trust you wholeheartedly.

  1. Presentation is key

A successful CV is always clear, concise and clean. The layout should be plain and simple, easy to read and easy enough to grab the attention of your potential employer. A standard black, white and grey CV looks chic and slick. The less colour, the better. Remember, it’s 50% content and 50% presentation.

  1. References

You should ideally have 2 references at the end of your CV and your references should be individuals who have either employed or supervised you in the past. If you have not been employed before, you can use one of your lecturers or tutors as referees to vouch for your skills.

If you’re considering applying as a Voices Unite Student Ambassador, maybe you could put these tips to use and who knows, you may become a part of the team😉.


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