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How to Write a Good CV in South Africa in 2023

Updated on Feb 17, 2023 10130 views
How to Write a Good CV in South Africa in 2023

You are probably one good CV away from your dream job! Funny? Nope. Here’s the idea. You can be the most qualified person for a job, but once you miss it with your CV, you’d likely not get a chance to impress the recruiter and let him know why you should be on his team.  

Crafting a good CV goes beyond putting down your qualifications on a document. And yes, it also goes beyond the aesthetics that it may come with. So, it really boils down to you having a good CV for that right application. But, how do you do that? How do you get that perfectly crafted CV for the job opening you’ve been dreaming of? 

If you want to learn how to write a good CV for your next application, then you are definitely at the right place. Read through this article and learn how to write a good CV that stands out. 


What is a CV? 

​​​​​​Firstly, as you would have noticed, a CV is an acronym for "Curriculum Vitae," a Latin word which means "Course of Life." Simply put, a CV is a document containing every personal and professional information of a person a recruiter will need to decide whether to hire him or not. By professional information, we mean every educational background, training, skill, ability and competencies, as well as work experience one has. On the other hand, personal information will entail the individual's name, contact details and personal interests that the recruiter will need. A fine blend of personal and professional information makes a good CV for any individual. 

Every recruiter always has a maximum of 6 seconds to glance through your CV, as proven by research, and 80% of CV owners do not get shortlisted for an interview. With this, you'll have to keep handy the ability to grasp the recruiter's attention immediately with a good CV. As you continue to read, you'll understand how you can do this within a few seconds and get yourself a spot at an interview.


How is a CV Different From a Resume? 

Just before we move on, it is important to note that a lot of people are often confused on this subject. Applicants often cannot tell the difference between a CV and a Resume. Well, we'll sort that out for you right now.

 A CV is a document that contains your personal and professional information to help a recruiter decide if you'll be interviewed or not. So, a good CV template will contain your name, contact address, educational background, work experience, and personal interests to be complete. However, a resume isn't like this. A Resume is a brief summary of a person's relevant work experience in a particular job role. It is usually brief and straight to the point without much information on the applicant's personal interests. While a CV permits one to include as much information as possible, leading to multiple pages, a Resume is not expected to be more than 1-2 pages. Also, Resumes are more popular in America and the United Kingdom, while CVs are popular in African countries. 


What Should be Included in my CV?

Sample of CV showing what should be included in a good CV

There are certain things the recruiter always looks out for in a CV, and these are the components that make a good CV. Here is a list of the important details you should include in your CV to get you on that interview seat: 

Contact Details

To begin with, your CV should have your contact details. This is basically the way the recruiter gets to have a quick grasp on who you are. So, in your contact details, be sure to include your:


Professional Title

Home Address

Mobile phone number

Email Address 

LinkedIn Profile

CV Objective 

Also called a CV Summary, this segment of the CV highlights your career objectives and goals. While writing this, you will be sure to highlight the abilities, skills and competencies that make you different from the rest of the applicants. You do remember that the recruiter has a maximum of 6 seconds to decide if you'll be interviewed or not, right? Good! This means that you must impress your prospective recruiter by writing a good CV Objective. It must be written in clear and simple English, so he does not have to read it more than once to understand what you're trying to say. 

Work Experience 

This is where you include the experiences that make you a good fit for the role. In your work experience, you should include the name of the company, your job role and the responsibilities you handled in the role. While including your work experience, there are certain things you have to keep in mind to give the best. Firstly, write your work experience in reverse order beginning with your most recent work. Also, while writing out your responsibilities, do not just write down what you had to do in your previous job but the things you achieved while doing the job. Finally, only write about work experiences relevant to the position you're applying for. For instance, you may not need to include your teaching experience if you're going for the job of a Salesperson or marketer.


Here, you give the interviewer a peek into your education. To write a good CV in this section, keep these tips in mind. 

  • Include your educational background first if you don't have any work experience.

  • Only include your CGPA if it is worth noting, probably a CGPA of 4.0-5.0.

  • If you don’t have a University degree, be sure to include other training relevant to your field that would give you a chance before the interviewer. 

Skills and Competencies 

Here, you talk about the hard and soft skills you have that make you fit for the job. When applying for an early-child teaching role, your hard skills can include; Ability to use a smart board, understanding of phonic sounds, etc., while your soft skills can include empathy, time management, etc. It is necessary that the skills you include here are the ones you possess and can defend when the time comes. 

Certifications and Awards  

This is the part you include extra certifications you may have gotten from training or relevant courses to your field. However, this segment of your CV is optional, as it can only be added if you do have any certifications or awards relevant to your field. 


Developing a Good CV Format 

So, to have a good CV format, there are tips you should keep in mind. Some of them are:

  • Always use your name as the title of the document. Don't make the mistake of titling it "Curriculum Vitae" or even "CV." That is a very obsolete way to write your CV. 

  • List everything on your CV in reverse chronological order. That way, you start from the most recent to the least recent event of any segment, especially for your education and work experience. 

  • Use section headings to break up your CV. Also, every heading should be a bit larger than the content of the heading, just as you can see in this article. 

  • Always name your document before saving it. Don't just have your CV as "Document -1." Nah, that's not nice. Instead, save the document with your name, for example, "Amahle Siyabonga CV."

  • Always submit your CV in a PDF format, except the application states otherwise. Also, make sure your CV is readable on every device. 


How to Write a Good CV

  • Tailor your CV to suit a particular job role. Don't make the mistake of using the same CV for every job opening. That will be very wrong. Also, it is wise to look up the company you're submitting your CV and ensure your CV will impress the recruiter at first glance.

  • Avoid grammatical errors on your CV. Having grammatical errors on your CV is already a way of you shooting yourself in the leg. Ensure you do not have grammatical errors while typing and submitting your CV.

  • Stay away from generic and overused words/phrases such as; ability to work under pressure, hard-working, team player or the like of it. Rather than that, bring in scenarios that show you exhibiting these qualities in your previous work experiences. 

  • If you want to include hobbies and personal interests, include hobbies that are relevant to the field you're applying for. Also, hobbies like singing, reading, dancing and the like of it have become widely used and may not have a place in your CV. 

  • Don't lie or exaggerate on your CV. Your potential employer will see you as dishonest, ruining your chances of getting the job. 

  • Make sure your email address sounds professional. In most cases, it is just better to use your name for your email address than any form of playful words on your email address. Imagine a recruiter getting an email from "[email protected]."


How Long Should a CV be?

One of the beautiful things about a CV is that, unlike a resume, there's room for it to be long, as long as the information contained in it is relevant to the prospective employer and the field you're applying for. However, to keep it simple and put you on the safe side, your CV should be at most two pages so the recruiter feels comfortable with having to go through your CV. 


Get the Recruiter's Attention at First Glance with Your CV

The trick to get your recruiter's attention at first glance with your CV lies with your Summary. The more compelling your Summary is, the higher the chances your CV will grasp the recruiter's attention. Also, the Summary must pass the 6 seconds test. The recruiter must be able to understand what your objectives are and if you will be a good fit in those 6 seconds. Your Summary has to be like an elevator pitch to convince your recruiter as soon as he looks at it. It should answer the following questions.

  • What can you do for the organization? How can you help?

  • How will your previous experience help fit in the company's current environment?

  • Do you have personal goals, and how can they fit in as you also help them grow?


Get Help Writing Your CV 

If you've read through but still need help writing your CV, you can use our CV service or our CV builder to create your CV at no cost.


Staff Writer

This article was written and edited by a staff writer.

1 Comment(s)

  • Yonas Berhane
    Yonas Berhane Sep 04, 2023

    Hello my name is yonas berhane I'm refuge in ethopa so peels help me longe time  sand you     information please  please 

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