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Spare a thought for those who have to sift through reams of ap­pli­ca­tions and keep it as con­cise as pos­si­ble.

“CVs that are pages long and wordy are a no-no,” says Ta­mara Wolpert of Viv Gor­don Place­ments in Cape Town. “The per­son re­ceiv­ing your CV is more than likely re­ceiv­ing mul­ti­ple CVs – some­times hun­dreds of them – and wants to be able to get to the rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion as quickly as pos­si­ble.”

Keep your CV to be­tween one and three pages – the less work ex­pe­ri­ence you have, the shorter it should be.


Check your spelling and your gram­mar, or get some­one else to do it for you.

“Spelling and gram­mat­i­cal er­rors are to­tally un­ac­cept­able in to­day’s world of spellcheck,” says Alexis Kitchen of Afrizan Per­son­nel in Jo­han­nes­burg. “Mis­takes like these tell em­ploy­ers a lot about your com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills as well as your at­ten­tion to de­tail.”


A well laid-out, sim­ple CV that’s easy to read is the best kind, Wolpert says.

“CVs with graph­ics ev­ery­where some­times de­tract from the in­for­ma­tion – less is more.”

The lay­out of your CV and the cor­rect use of doc­u­ment for­mat­ting also tells po­ten­tial em­ploy­ers about your com­puter lit­er­acy, Kitchen says.

In terms of for­mat, you should be­gin with your most re­cent ex­pe­ri­ence and work back­wards.

In­clude dates on your CV – when you ma­tric­u­lated, grad­u­ated, your dates of em­ploy­ment and so on, as em­ploy­ers want to see how long you spent in each role, Wolpert says.

And don’t for­get to list your re­spon­si­bil­i­ties un­der your pre­vi­ous jobs.

“Roles with the same ti­tle of­ten carry dif­fer­ent re­spon­si­bil­i­ties at dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies so it’s im­por­tant to list these,” she says.


Never ex­ag­ger­ate or bend the truth about your pre­vi­ous jobs or qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

“Re­cruit­ment in­volves thor­ough ref­er­ence checks so any un­truths will likely be ex­posed,” Kitchen says.

And even if lies aren’t ex­posed, over­stat­ing your abil­i­ties “could have dire con­se­quences when you’re called to de­liver in a new job, and this will mean mis­trust from the out­set – never a good way to start a work­ing re­la­tion­ship,” she says.

Wolpert adds there could also be le­gal reper­cus­sions if you’re found to have been dis­hon­est on your CV, as these lies could be con­sid­ered fraud­u­lent.

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