The Do’s and Don’ts of writing a great CV

Your CV is the most critical tool that you have in landing that dream job. You might be the most qualified person for the job, but if your CV doesn’t adequately communicate your experience and skillset, you might be passed up for the job. And equally so – an excellent CV may put you ahead of more experienced candidates applying for the same position.

After 17 years in the recruitment game, I’ve come up with a list of the Do’s and Don’ts so that your CV will find its way to the top of the pile. We’ve also included a simple template that you can download here.


Tailor your CV to the job you are applying for. Take the time to read the job spec and organize your experience and skillset to allow the hiring manager to see why you are a good fit for the role and organization.

State your personal details. Be short and concise. Your name, address and contact details are all that you need to provide. You can also give a personal statement – but this should be short and to the point. (No more than two sentences)

Follow the correct CV format. The most popular is a Chronological CV. As your work experience and skillset are the main deciding factors on whether or not your CV will be successful, it is essential to highlight your relevant experiences and skillset. Start with your most recent position and then list previous positions in backward chronological order.

Be sure to outline your key responsibilities in each role and any significant accomplishments, promotions or awards you achieved.

Include at least two references. It is always best to add references of people who previously gave you employment.

At least one referee must be a professional reference, including the referee’s name, surname, contact, or email.

Keep your CV neat and tidy. Make sure that your CV is easy to read and process. Keep the format and design in mind. Use a standard font like Cambrai or Calibri at 11 points and avoid any superfluous flourishes or added design features.

Check your spelling and grammar. A hiring manager will not take kindly to mistakes in your CV – it shows that you did not take the time to check and proofread your own work.

Use power words when describing your responsibilities and skills. Don’t go over the top, though, but using words like achieved, supervised, launched and coordinated and so on will put you in good stead.

Keep it as short as possible. Try and keep your CV to a maximum of two pages. Time is precious, and no hiring manager has the time to go through thousands of CVs, so keep your most relevant information short and to the point. The length of your CV will significantly depend on the vastness of your experience.


Give false information about your previous work experience, knowledge or skill set. Hiring managers do their due diligence and will check. And if you do get a job where you’ve lied about the knowledge and skills asked for, it will show and not count in your favour.

Supply unnecessary information. Your CV needs to be as concise as possible. You don’t need to list your age, nationality, marital status and ID number, hobbies, personal likes, dislikes, political or religious standing – these are not relevant to the job at hand, and the hiring manager will not want to read through all that added information.

This goes for additional design elements and scrolls too. Keep your CV simple and pay attention to the formatting.

Mention money. All mentions of salaries and benefits can wait until the interview stage and only when the recruiter asks you the question.

Forget to include a cover letter. Unless stated otherwise – it’s always a good idea to have a concise and well-written cover letter. This is your pitch as to why you think you should get the job. Your CV will back up this cover letter with the relevant experience and skills.

Good Luck! We wish you well on your job hunt. If you’re looking for a new position, head over to our Vacancies page and submit your CV. Do not limit yourself. Be sure to stand out by highlighting your skills, strength, experience and values.

Lerato Boaventura
Founder and Owner of Origins Personnel

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