Steps of creating a professional CV
creating a professional CV document to show your skills, academic history and work experience, so that you highlight through your skills and capabilities why you are the ideal candidate. Ideally, keep to 1 page, or 2 maximum.
The difference between a CV and resume is that CVs are longer versions of the summarized resume.
CVs include a full record, and ordered insight of the candidate’s career history, while resumes are edited for each application to mention what is specifically required for the advertised job, such as a relevant list of skills and achievements.
Note: in the case of applying for a Government Vacancy in South Africa, you will also need a Z83 form.
Key points of this creating a professional CV guide:
- CV layout;
- CV fonts;
- CV font size;
- CV margins;
- CV alignment;
- CV and resume length;
- Type of file for CV’s;
- CV format;
- ATS software;
- Skills-based CV;
- Functional CV;
- CV vs Resume;
- Write your CV in 10 easy steps;
- How to write your CV personal statement;
- How to write your employment history on the CV;
- How to write your CV education and qualifications;
- Things to avoid on your CV
The way the document looks, refers to the CV layout, and includes the font style and size, color, length of the paragraphs, line spacing, and other components.
Not only is a good CV layout visually appealing. It might make a difference in whether you obtain the job. If the layout is incorrect, your initial impression and any possibility of landing an interview are both ruined.
Select a contemporary, and modern CV font, that reads easy. A good CV font example is: POPPINS
CV font size
Use the appropriate CV font size once you’ve decided on a CV font. For the finest mix of size and clarity in body text, use a font size of 10 to 12. To maximize readability, it’s preferable to err on the large side. For emphasis, increase the font size for section headings. Make your headings a few points larger than your body text.
Another effective method for calling attention to crucial information is the
subtle use of bolding and italics. However, avoid highlighting as it appears messy.
Using bulletpoints is a highly effective way to keep attention on, and flow they eye over all the lists in CV’s.
Adjust all of your margins on a 2 cm setting. A balance between content and white space is what you’re going for. White space defines content, improves the readability of your CV, and draws attention to each distinct area.
It is recommended to only use left
alignment for the body of your CV. This CV layout is formal corporate standard and reads better.
CV and resume length
Try to limit yourself to one page unless the position you are applying for is senior and requires intensive work history and skilled qualification details. Only for specific, specialized academic and research positions should your CV be longer than two or three pages.
Otherwise, aim for 1 page. Or 2 pages max, if you have a lengthy job history when creating a professional CV.
Type of file for CV’s when creating a professional CV
Save your resume as a PDF unless specifically instructed otherwise in the job application. It’s the best approach to protect your meticulously planned layout.
Put the proper filename in the CV. Give it the respect it deserves because it’s one of the first things a recruiter sees. Avoid using “CV.pdf” at all costs because it will be difficult to
distinguish your CV file from the thousands of others who did the same.
Similarly, you should not use initials or long file names when creating a professional CV.
Simply use your name to establish your personal brand. Or really stand out with tongue in cheek mode and use Super+title+name. E.g. Super Salesman Sam or Super SCM Maggie.
The most popular and used CV format is the hybrid / combination style, which brings together functional and chronological in approach to CV writing to creating a professional CV.
ATS software decides
Applicant tracking system (ATS) software is used by recruiters to quickly determine job abilities for CV
and resume submissions. ATS picks up whether your CV has the required skills. We advise jobseekers to use our free CV and resume so they can fine-tune their resume for each application when creating a professional CV.
The emphasis of a skills-based CV, also known as a functional CV or simply a “skills” CV, focuses on the candidate’s skills, rather than their employment history. It is typically utilized by job searchers in the creative industries who have performed numerous small freelance jobs or by those who are changing careers.
The functional CV is usually appropriate for Senior positions where a show of your work history, education and expertise is necessary when creating a professional CV.
As with resumes, on any type of CV, your skills are of utmost importance.
Is it better to use a CV or resume?
Ask the recruiter whether they prefer a resume or CV and if you are still unsure, you may include a cover letter with your resume, with an added statement that you have a CV upon request.
Write your CV in 10 easy steps
- Read the advertised job description carefully;
- Write a great cover letter that shows you in the best light. Keep in mind what the job requirements and description is;
- Open your free CV or resume and fill in your hard- and soft skills. Look at the requirements printed in the advertisement;
- Fill in your name and your contact details;
- List your work experience and highlights. State your most recent achievements first;
- Provide your educational qualification, starting with the highest qualification or most recent. Remember, you may be asked for certified copies;
- Include the training you received and skills gained;
- Mention any other details that are relevant to the position you are applying for;
- Double-check that all spelling, and information, is correct.
How to write your CV personal statement
Also know as your personal profile, the personal statement is found at the top of your CV. Summarize, in 2 or 3 short paragraphs, who you are, the reason that you are applying for plus your skills and your achievements, your experience, and finally, your career goals.
TIP: start by making a list of your hard skills. Write next to each skill, where or how you gained it, such as training, college or previous work. Merge the skills and origin in neat sentences.
Blending introduced, skills, experience and achievements example:
“I am a team player, with a passion for customer service and available immediately. While working as a sales and marketing manager at ABC Machines from 2017 – 2021, I gained extensive machine operating, sales and customer care experience. Together with the team I managed, we broke company sales records for 2 consecutive years. We were called The Unstoppable 5 by our colleagues. I always dreamed of applying my capabilities to DEF Machines, as it is a company I greatly admire.”
Skills in this example, are:
Machine operating, sales, marketing customer care and management as hard skills, plus team player, passionate, motivated and enthusiastic (The Unstoppable 5), as soft skills.
Work history in this example, is:
ABC Machines from 2017 – 2021
The reason for applying plus career goals in the example is mentioned in the line: “..always dreamed of applying my capabilities to DEF Machines, as it is a company I greatly admire.”
Time line is provided in the opening line with “available immediately”.
How to write your employment history on the CV
How to fill in your previous positions when creating a professional CV:
- Write down your job title;
- Provide the company name;
- Fill in the dates of employment, as month year – month year;
- Add a super short summary about your role, with focus on your skills used, main responsibilities, etc. TIP: use bullet points.
How to write your CV education and qualifications
List your degrees and educational qualification, starting with most impressive or most recent.
Provide first the dates and names of the academic institutions, then your degree or qualification plus achievements.
What do write as work history if I don’t have experience?
Write down any volunteering you have done, or abilities and interests relevant to the job that you have.
TIP: Consider upskilling with a free online course and make yourself more employable.
When creating a professional CV avoid the following in your CV and resume:
- Lies about qualifications, skills or work history;
- Hobbies or any unrelated personal statements.