Crafting a winning Curriculum Vitae (CV) is crucial in the competitive landscape of the job market. Your CV serves as your initial introduction to potential employers, highlighting your skills, experiences, and achievements. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to create an effective CV tailored for South African job seekers.

Need a visual aid? Download our example CV here:  CV Template

The Do’s:

Use a Clean and Simplistic Layout: Have a general top to bottom layout that has your full name starting at the top and just below must be your field or job title. Use a professional font and maintain consistent formatting throughout the document with no extravagant colours, stick to classic black and white. Replace the common bio with a testimonial/reference as there is not really a finer way to show how good of an employee you would be than someone else confirming it. E.g. “From day one, Aphiwe impressed us with her drive to succeed and her unwavering commitment to her job and being a good data analyst. Aphiwe’s determination, combined with her natural talent and adaptability, make her an asset in any organisation.” – Doug Murin (Snr Data Analyst at DataCo.)  

Tailor Your CV to the Job: Customise your CV for each job application. Highlight relevant skills, experiences, and achievements that align with the job description. Conduct thorough research on the company and its industry to understand their needs and values, then tailor your CV accordingly. Also, when tailoring your CV, note whether you are willing to relocate for the position. It can be time consuming – but worth every minute.  

Highlight Key Skills and Achievements: Clearly display your key skills, accomplishments, and qualifications. Quantify your achievements whenever possible to demonstrate concrete results. Cut out duties because they do not add value, focus on the key achievements, what sets you apart from others in the same role.  

Include Contact Information: Provide accurate contact details, including your full name, phone number, email address, location and LinkedIn profile (if applicable). Double-check your contact information to ensure accuracy and eliminate errors. Do note that your location needs to be specific to the exact area in which you reside, e.g., Durban, La Lucia.  

Showcase Your Education and Qualifications: List your educational background in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent degree or qualification. Include any relevant certifications, workshops, or training programs that enhance your qualifications for the job. 

Include Relevant Work Experience: Provide a one-liner summary of each job before detailing tasks and responsibilities. E.g., Implemented data-driven strategies that optimised operational efficiency, saving the company 100K annually and reducing processing time by 40%. Detail your work experience, including job titles, company names, dates of employment, and significant achievements. Emphasise experiences directly relevant to the position you are applying for. 

Be Specific and Quantify Where Possible: Providing these details adds immense value to your CV. E.g., Sold warehousing and distribution services into the retail sector, deals ranged from R1 million to R2,5 million. Achieved my sales target consistently from 2018 to 2020. Target was R2,5 million. Sold clearing and forwarding and courier services into the retail sector. Increased the retail sector volumes by 50% in 6 months.  

The Don’ts

Don’t Use Unprofessional Language or Tone: Maintain a professional tone throughout your CV. Avoid using slang, abbreviations, or overly casual expressions. Proofread your CV carefully to eliminate spelling and grammar errors. 

Avoid Using Clichés: terms such as “good communicator;” “can-do-attitude” and “team player” without substantiating them with facts or examples will add little (if any) value to your CV. Whoever is reading your CV will just tune out. Snap out of using jargon and highlight specific key skills backed up with valid examples to give your CV credibility.   

Avoid Using Vague Words: adjectives such as, ‘many’ and ‘varied’ should be avoided, e.g. using them in sentences like, ‘Sold many solutions into to the retail sector’ or ‘Sold varied solutions into to the retail sector’ does not say much about your success in the position. 

Don’t Exaggerate or Fabricate Information: Be honest and truthful about your qualifications, experiences, and achievements. Exaggerating or fabricating information can damage your credibility. Focus on highlighting genuine strengths and accomplishments. 

Advised Not to Add a Profile Photo: Including a profile image on your CV can introduce bias and discrimination based on appearance, which undermines equal opportunity principles. It may distract from your professional qualifications and skills, which should be the focus of your CV. Moreover, a photo takes up valuable space that could be used for relevant content. However, if you feel that a profile photo will benefit your CV, you may add one. 

Don’t Forget to Update Your CV Regularly: Keep your CV up to date with your most recent experiences, skills, and qualifications. Review and update your CV periodically, even when you are not actively job hunting, to ensure it reflects your current expertise. 


By adhering to these do’s and don’ts, you can create a compelling and professional CV that effectively highlights your qualifications and experiences to potential employers. Remember, your CV is your personal marketing tool, so invest the time and effort to make it stand out from the crowd. 

Success Stories