Writing a CV that will convert into actual interviews are easier said than done.  The art of CV writing has changed over the years in many different ways, from being to the point as fast as possible to actually writing a small thesis about yourself.

The gist of a CV is to get you to the interview, not the job.

As such you need to understand that the person that might see your CV first is not necessarily the person that will hire/interview you.  A Human Resources’ employee will first search through the most promising candidates. As such you need to make sure you get into the long list and not simply discarded before given the correct opportunity for the short list.

An HR personnel will most probably be more interested in the facts. Do you actually qualify for the job (long list).  It is the interviewer that will be interested in your small thesis to why you are the best for the job (short list).

Elements to include for the short list:

  • Contact Information
  • Personal Statement
  • Work Experience
    • Listed from your most recent employment to last in chronological order.
    • Company Name, Date of Employment, Website of Company, Location
    • List your responsibilities in each previous job
    • List your achievements in each previous job
  • Education
    • Listed in chronological order from your most recent to last, with your grades
  • Key Skills
    • It Skills
    • Language Skills
  • Hobbies & Interest
    • This is to give the interviewer a more personal point to touch base with you.  But this section is optional.
  • References
    • You should make it clear that there are references, if there are any.  But you also don’t have to include this in your initial CV.


Your employer will most probably have similar needs to any other potential employer, that being:

  • Profit
  • Bigger Market Share
  • Developing their Business
  • Creating new Products
  • Improving their Services

Any potential employer want to see what you have done, or what you can bring to the table.

Make sure you get personal in explaining exactly what you have done in each project and how that has contributed to the end success. Don’t over explain, as your potential employer has many CV to run through, but make sure you give enough information to entice your employer to invite you for an interview.

I have taken the time to explain some basic job phrases. These phrases are overused and a bit generic, but much needed and wanted by most employers.  These few paragraphs should give you a clearer understanding of what is suppose to be given as answers to these business phrases.

Questions that will lead to the long list:

Team Player

Everyone is a team player, no one is going to honestly state that they hate working with others, even if this may be the case.

Instead rather give a real life example of where you were a team player.

  • What your role may have been
  • What your responsibilities may have been
  • How you met all your responsibilities
  • The general outcome of the team, working together

Project Management

Project management is just a fancy way of saying you are organised and you can keep others organised.  In regards to this also make use of a real life example,

  • Have you organised a budget
  • Have you managed a group of people
  • Have you organised an event

Result Orientated

Your future employer wants to know if you will be a good return on investment by hiring you.

Meaning; are you going to bring in/save more money than want your salary cost.

Justify your answer by again giving real life examples:

  • Do you know how to save your employer money, and by how much?
  • Do you know how to increase sales, and by how much?

Management Quality

Being management quality is more than just being able;

  • To manage/organise the day to day in the office
  • Getting along with all the employees
  • Being a friendly boss

Management quality includes being able to make the hard decisions of whether an employee is pulling their weight in the workplace.  Being able to ensure all your employees have what they need to for fill their duties to the best of their abilities.

Management has the good, but also the ugly. Your employer will want to know if you are truly aware of these responsibilities and if you can manage them easily enough.

Why should we hire you?

Personally I hate this questions and I truly dreaded this question with every interview.  But the honest truth is that it’s suppose to be a very easy question.

How would you sell yourself to yourself?

  • What are your unique selling points?
  • What are you good at?
  • What principles, ethics and morals do you find important in the workplace?

Let’s say,

  • You are Timely
  • You are a professional, never bringing your home troubles to the workplace.
  • You are good management quality, in understanding the hard decisions that comes with management.
  • You are a hard worker, you work till the job is done – not worried about overtime:/

Answering this question on your CV and not just in the interview already informs your potential employer of the benefits to you as a person, not just your skill base or education level.


  • Check all your spelling: As small spelling mistakes make it seem that you are careless.  Many employers already use this to weave through the strong and weak candidates.
  • Keep it Short, To the Point and Interesting: Don’t go over 2 typed pages as your potential employer will have several CV to run through.
  • Keep the design clean and simple: Don’t make the mistakes to add start and bling to your CV.

Your CV needs to stand apart from the competition, to do this you will need to get personal and detailed.  Give real life examples, explanations and show (no say) your contributions you can make to your new potential job and employer.  If this is your first CV and you have no job experience, then use real life examples outside that of the work environment.  The environment might be different but the circumstances might be the same in the workplace.

Think outside the box and come up with a problem you may anticipate your employer may be struggling with currently.  Otherwise ask your employer in the interview to give you a potential problem.  Try and solve that problem on the spot by making educated assumptions in solving a theoretical problem.

Written by Lizl Brink, Lizl is copywriter and designer based in Johannesburg, she is also a frequent contributor to the Mafadi blog, and as an Urban investor and rejuvenation shares a passion for urban regeneration, go check out her personal portfolio here
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