CV tips that will definitely land you that interview

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By Milda Mojapelo

This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 8 of VARSITY.


Recruiters are faced with piles of CVs to get through and every young student’s problem is how to prove that they are worthy of an interview. Your CV is meant to sell you in your absence and make the reader keen to meet you. Below is some general advice taken from career coaches and websites to prevent you from making your recruiter cringe before they even meet you. 


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  • The first thing that one needs to be aware of is, whoever is glancing over your CV, will probably only give it a maximum of 30 seconds of their attention, so keep it concise and straight to the point. Everything written down has to be of utmost importance to ensure that your skills and qualifications have enough room to speak. Anything exceeding two pages is not advisable.


  • Leave out unnecessary biographical information that could be used to discriminate against you. Information such as religion, ethnicity, gender, marital status, health status, and number of dependants do not communicate anything regarding why you are the best fit for the job. For personal details stick to your full name, contact details (cell phone number, email address, personal website), and your residential address. You may not have a positive view towards this recruitment approach, but you should at least be aware of it.

  • Your qualifications section is important and should be laid out in a manner that the reader will easily understand. Your list should start with your most recently obtained qualification alongside the institution where you obtained it as well as the year.

  • It is important to express your skills, especially if you have not yet obtained a tertiary qualification. This however, should not just be a bunch of pretty words. For example, it is not enough to just say you have leadership potential. Back up your experience by including you were a House Committee member, a sports club captain, or any of your involvements in societies.

  • Work experience will always give you good leverage above your competitors. If you can link your experience with the vacancy you are applying for, then that’s even better. If you have done job shadowing or an internship in the same environment, it is worth noting down. You can also include any volunteer work you have done or are currently doing.

  • References are a must have. They show credibility. There is a preference for landline numbers over cell phone numbers for legitimacy purposes. It is advisable to put down people that you are in good relations with and it is always best to ask someone before putting them as a reference. Three references is usually the standard.


  • There are multiple CV templates online but do not solely rely on them. Your CV ought to be relevant for the job you are applying for. Do some research about the job before drafting your CV so you have an indication of what is expected. Once you know the general job specifications, you can tailor you CV to the standards of that field of work.


  • Lastly, presentation matters. Choose a font that will be easy on the eye of the reader. Arial, Cambria, and Times New Roman in font size 12 are usually the best to go for. Headings are essential to make navigating through your CV reader-friendly.


Photo by Warren Modukwe

Side note: Don’t lie about anything. Not only is that fraudulent, dishonesty could tarnish any chance you would have had for an offer in that establishment.

Your CV is the first impression you will make, so keep it professional, clear and concise. This is the first document that recruiters look at before considering you for a job so it can either make or break the deal. You only have one shot at this, so make it count. If you want more help with your CV, contact UCT’s very own Career Services for some advice! 

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