How to write the perfect CV

Here's how to give yourself the advantage over other job applicants with a winning CV.

A good, well-constructed and professional Curriculum Vitae (CV) – the name literally means "the course (or story) of your life" – will convince the employer that you are the employee of choice.

The AIDA model
Your CV must generate enough interest to carry you to, and through the door. It must create "AIDA":

A = Attention: The document must grab the reader's attention.
I = Interest: The reader must feel that you are a contender for possible placement.
D = Desire: The recipient must want to interview you.
A = Action: You must be easy to contact.

CV golden rules
There are a number of different formats – choose the one that will best suit you, as well as the type of position for which you are applying.

Be aware of the position and the organisation

It happens so often that people prepare a CV and then send it in a "shotgun approach" to every possible employee. Organisations will reject CVs just because of this – so, make your CV count!

•    Firstly, consider carefully whether this is the kind of organisation that you would like to work for and whether this is the kind of position in which you are interested and fits into your long-term goals and objectives.

•    Secondly, if you are applying for a specific position or for a position in an organisation which has a specific focus, think carefully whether you have the necessary competencies, knowledge and skills for the position or the organisation.

•    Thirdly, it is possible that your CV contains some information that is irrelevant or unnecessary in applying for this position. It is also possible that you may wish to clarify certain points or emphasise some aspects of your competencies or experience.

If you are applying for a managerial position, you will want to emphasise this experience, not only in your working environment, but also in other fields, such as in your community or extra-curricular activities.

It's better to choose a few vacancies and take trouble in applying for them, rather than sending identical CV's for each and every position that remotely catches your fancy.

Use layout to create a professional impression
•    Always type out your CV – preferably in a word processing package such as MS Word. This is especially important if CVs can/must be sent via e-mail.

•    Your CV should be laid out logically. You do want not the prospective employer to have to search for information.

•    Use a consistent format for headings at the same level, e.g. the whole CV and all your main headings should have the same font type and size and should be aligned. Any document that does not follow a consistent format creates an impression of being unorganised and unprofessional. If necessary, ask someone who has some experience to "tidy up the document" for you.

NO spelling mistakes!
Spelling or grammatical mistakes are an irritant to the reader and create an extremely negative image about the individual.

Do a careful spell-check on the document, read it through a couple of times and, better still, get somebody else to go through the document – do not only rely on the spell-check facility on the compute to do the work for you.

Now that we've covered the basics, let's move onto the content of your CV in part 2.

Karel van der Molen is Women24's Careers expert. Ask him a question here.

- Women24

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