Careers, Jobs & The Labour Market

Purpose of the CV and the 5 most common mistakes on CVs

This topic contains 1 reply, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Ian Webster 2 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #26677

    Good day,

    I often get questions on CV making, CV refinement, and CV’s actual purpose I would like to share these points for everyone who is interested in discussing CVs:

    1) The purpose of the CV is to get you an appointment for an interview: this is the start and end of the CV’s function – the CV should generate sufficient call backs for interview requests.  The CV will not get you a job offer – that is up to the interview, but if it gets you through the door it has done it’s job. As a rough guide-line, if your CV is not generating a call back within one week of applying, consider changing your CV. There may be something missing. It might not be focused enough. It might not be attracting interest of the people recruiting for your type of role. Change it and try again. etc.

    2) The CV is a marketing tool. Like any good marketing the important information must be visible easily and must speak to the needs of the potential employer. In short, avoid adding your ID number, your address and other personal details on the first page. Get straight into the stuff they want to see. Your NAME, CELL #, and EMAIL is sufficient at the Header. Next get straight to your qualifications and experience. In fact, I suggest – completely remove the unnecessary personal details as it is only a security risk – there are many people who hunt for CVs just to collect data. Hobbies are acceptable for students but not for professionals.

    3) “Duties” listing is not enough – list your achievements too. Don’t be seen as just someone who only does the minimum. Be seen as an achiever.

    4) Critical education – be sure that you have done any mandatory exams and regulations courses in the job/career you are pursuing. If you really want a job, and you don’t have the education necessary rather try to obtain it first then go on and apply. Applying and hoping that they will ‘give you a chance’ is most likely going to be seen as ‘chance taking’.

    5) Synthesise your previous experience to only highlight the relevant part of your career and ignore the irrelevant. For example if you are applying to be an accountant and two jobs ago you were a waiter, don’t even bother listing your duties there. You can either state “2005 – Blue Bell restaurant” or “2005 – Casual worker, hospitality” or even leave it out.  

    Hope this is relevant and helps. Look forward to opinions here.

    Good luck with your job search.

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  • #26680

    Hi Miro, this is very useful. I work with youth who have completed matric only and others who are in tertiary. I often assist them with writing up their CV’s and often get the question from them about how to make your CV attractive to prospective employer when you dont have any work experience. My answer to this is then highlighting volunteer work experience or work done within a club or university society. Do you perhaps any suggestions or tips on how to structure a CV or things to focus on when writing up a CV when you don’t have work experience?

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  • #26679

    One of the mistakes that people normally do is that of reference. before you consider listing someone as a reference, make sure that they know that you’re listing them.

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  • #26678

    Ian Webster

    Thanks Miro,
    I wish this would get into the right hands. Someone, somewhere is doing a better job of getting to job seekers than we are. The CVs we get are all so alike and all so uniformly bad!
    I wouldn’t recommend leaving out the ‘2005 – Blue Bell restaurant’. Don’t add all the detail, but if you leave it out, it creates a gap in the record which raises unnecessary questions: ‘So, what did he do in 2005?’ Adding it shows this is not a person who sits around waiting.
    Janine, you have answered your own question. Highlighting volunteer work experience, etc. tells the recruiter that this is a person who is interested in life and is a self-starter. Very important. Remember the adage: ‘hire attitude; train skills’. But, as Miro says, list your achievements there, not just activities.
    On the other hand, if there is a minimum skills and qualification requirement, then don’t waste your and the recruiter’s time and energy applying.

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