Studio 29

Practical tips for job searching & the Likeability Factor - Part 3 - Preparing your CV

Posted on 26 July 2019

Job searching IS a job

· Create a schedule and stick to it

· Create a spreadsheet / notepad to keep notes

· Browse the internet, look for jobs that suit your education, skills and experience

· Register with job boards

· Make a list of companies that are of interest to you. Go check their career pages once a week and apply for the roles you are suited for

· Apply online or via the email address provided, making a note of the company and role you applied for

· Don’t just randomly apply for any job. It is demoralizing when you receive no response, and a waste of time & energy

· Do this religiously every day

Follow ALL the sections of this guide. Don't miss any steps. Go back to the previous sections before you continue

Part 1 - Practical Ideas for job searching & the Likeability Factor - Part 1 - Introduction

Part 2 - Practical Ideas for job searching & the Likeability Factor - Part 2 - Preparing your Brand


Possible reasons as to why you are not getting responses to your applications

If you are sending your CV to many recruiters and companies but getting no response some of the reasons could be because;

  • You sent your CV cold (no position available or took a chance on applying for a role you are not suited for)
  • Your CV did not grab
  • Your CV is not well thought out
  • Your CV is void of any personality
  • Your CV is too long
  • Your CV did not highlight what VALUE you could bring
  • Your CV showed no attention to detail (Spelling mistakes, formatting, detail)
  • Your CV is too generic
  • You attached your CV with no introduction in the body of the mail
  • You sent it as a download file (Not many recruiters will download anything from the internet if they don’t know you)
  • Your BRAND has warning flags (Please follow the section Preparing your Brand before you start applying )

READ AND UNDERSTAND THE ADVERTISED VACANCY! I cannot stress this enough. You lose credibility applying for roles that you have no chance of getting

Possible reasons why you did not get that job

Sometimes you are invited to an interview, but unsuccessful. The list is endless but some of the reasons could be;

  • You did not present well at the interview
  • You did not prepare
  • You oversold yourself on your CV
  • Your skills are not in line with what the company requires
  • The fit was wrong
  • You showed no passion
  • You appeared desperate
  • You appeared disinterested
  • You clammed up because you were nervous
  • You spoke too much
  • You lied because you didn’t want to look stupid
  • You said inappropriate things

Preparing your CV for maximum engagement

Hiring managers see 100’s of CVs in a week. You can make their job easier and immediately score on the likeable meter. Make a great 1st impression.

Most CV’s are scanned briefly by whomever is reading it and you have just a few seconds to grab their attention. Give them the information they need quickly, without them having to scroll down many pages to find what it is you do or can offer. The quickest way to blow your chances is to give too much irrelevant info in the intro section. Many great candidates get overlooked because their CV is crammed with words. The old traditional way of writing a CV is no more and could be more of a hindrance to you. If you have a lot to say, I would suggest you have two CV’s. The “intro” CV (short, punchy and to the point) and a “comprehensive” one you can refer to if a company shows interest in you and they ask for more information.

When applying for specific roles do not send a generic email / CV for all roles. Many people make the mistake of saying “I am applying for the role you have advertised”. Change your wording, refer to the specific role “I am applying for the role as a Software Engineer with C# skills and 3 years’ experience as advertised on Indeed” Reference this role in the Subject Line of your mail.

Adapt your CV to every role you are applying for, highlighting your skills and experience that align with the requirements mentioned in the job advert. Let the reader see why you thought you were a fit to that particular role. This will immediately make you stand out from the rest.

If you are not applying to a job ad but want to send your CV cold, read the section Finding a Mentor

Introduction / BIO / Profile

Traditionally, people wrote a bio as an introduction about themselves before getting into the relevant stuff. Be very careful of this. Most people do themselves an injustice when writing this, especially if it is not well thought out. Be relevant. This is your chance to make an impact. Use it! Be punchy. State WHY you are applying for THAT particular role (mention the role) and what VALUE you can bring to an organization. Don’t be vague or use clichés because we have seen it all before, hundreds of times. This is the area where you need to grab the reader’s attention. There are some examples below that will give you an idea of what to say & how to say it.

CV Template – What works

This is so important! So many CV's are rejected because they have just been slapped together. The CV is the window to the recruiters window shopping, make it attractive! Find a professional CV writer or download one from the internet. Many companies now have a certain format to allow for AI.

Word has a great one. It is called the Blue Grey CV. It is simple, has a nice format and looks professional. Adapt it to your needs. Keep it simple and reader friendly.

Do’s & Don’ts

Do add a photograph of yourself. No duck faces, no pic of you hanging on your buddies’ neck or draped over your crush. Leave those for Facebook and Instagram. Insert a clear head and shoulder shot of you smiling at the camera. Keep it real, we work with unconscious bias every day.

Keep your CV simple and easy to format should the recruiter need to edit it for whatever reason.

Do not use a fancy font. Many CV’s get rejected because it is a strain to read the font. Calibri or Ariel works well.

If you have more than a 1page CV, put your name and number on the footer of the CV. CV’s are sometimes printed out and your other pages could get lost or mixed up.

Use standard margins right through

Do not add your ID Number, full address, or any information that can be stolen, instead just note the following;

· Your name (first and last only)

· The town and city you reside in

· Your date of birth

· Contact details

· A link to your LinkedIn profile

· A link to your website or portfolio if you have one

· Groups you belong to (If you don't currently belong to any industry relevant groups, sign up now)

If you are not a South African, state your nationality and type of work visa. Include expiry date.

Many recruiters re-create the CV’s in their own format so the easier you make it for them to copy and paste, the more your likeability factor. Do not over format your CV. Some recruiters will also send your CV in its raw format but may need to make changes, they may need to add things they picked up in your interview which is not evident on your CV or delete certain things that detract from what you have to offer. If you make it difficult for them to edit, they will move down the list to the next candidate and get back to your application when they have time, which could be never.

Below I mention bullets and tables. Check that these are all aligned. Nothing ruins a good-looking CV more than having bulleted points not lined up perfectly. Even one space too many can detract and show lack of attention to detail.

An example of what a good CV looks like


Short, punchy and relevant

Note the layout. It has a clear photograph, a short bio, contact details, links, name and job applying for. It then lists Education, work experience starting with current, and also highlights the skills. Start with your top skills.

Introduction / BIO / Profile

These examples are for a 1st time job seeker. Use your own words to introduce yourself briefly.

I am applying for the (insert role here) advertised (insert where you saw the ad here).

A short description of yourself

I worked part-time as a waiter while studying. This has taught me a work ethic, how to communicate with people and to listen. Of course, this is only relevant if you DID work as a waiter. If you did not work while studying try something along these lines

I dedicated myself to my studies. The work hard, play hard saying did not apply to me. I just worked hard, because I had a goal in mind and I achieved this despite many challenges thrown my way. This allows HR to see that you are dedicated, focused and have a work ethic

Additional tips If you are not a 1st time job- seeker

Applying for the (insert role here) advertised (insert where you saw the ad here).

I have a (insert degree / certification) live in Cape Town, but happy to relocate. I have a total number of (insert years) commercial experience working as a (relevant to the ad you are applying for)

The value I bring to your organization is.....

Give the reader a better idea of who you actually are, why you are applying and the VALUE you bring to the table.

They will also be looking to see if you are able to hit the ground running in the role they are sourcing for

The above are just ideas, illustrating how to keep an introduction to the point and the information we as recruiters & hiring managers look for. Find different ways to say what the above implies in your own words until something works for you.

The format of the CV.

Here you need to be creative if you don’t have a work history you can list, but there are ways to grab the reader.

Start with –


(insert month and year to insert month and year) – Studied (insert degree / certification) at (insert institution)

The course modules and my final results are as follows. Do not photocopy and paste your transcript there. Create a table listing your subjects and final year results.

If your studies are incomplete, state this and the reasons why you did not complete.

List the projects you were involved with while studying. Do not fill the page with words. Bullets work best

Below are some ideas

Project 1 – (insert a brief description of the project)

We were tasked to (insert brief description here)

· We worked in a team of 3, of which I was the team leader

· The project took 73 hours outside of college

· The end result was…..

We used the following technologies; If you are in IT, bullet the technologies you used

· C#

· JavaScript


The outcome of this project was (add a short description of the success of the project)

(insert month and year) – Matriculated from (insert school) with a (insert final symbol). If your final symbol was not great, leave this out.

At school I belonged to the following groups

· Drama

· Debating

· Chess


· Ist team Rugby

· Hockey

· Tennis


· Attained 2 distinctions

· Was deputy head boy/girl

· Captain of the 1st team rugby team

· 10 years of never missing one day of school


· Kiting

· Surfing

· Developing apps to keep up with technology

Strengths / Values

The strengths referred to here are the VALUE you can bring to the table.

· Integrity

· Strong work ethic

· Passion for learning

· Willing to work long hours and week-ends

· I make great coffee and have Mr Delivery on speed dial for the late nights and weekends we need to work

If you are not willing to work long hours or week-ends, and only looking for a job to pay the rent, then the above is not what you put on your CV. If you want a career, and know that it is going to take almost as much sacrifice and hard work as it did to finish your studies, then the person reading your CV will see this.

Groups I belong to – N.B If you do not belong to any groups, or go to meetups in your area of similar minded people in the line of business you want to be in, do so now!

· Opensource programming

· Java Developers

· GitHub

If you have many skills, include a Skills Matrix with your application. Here is a basic one to get you started Download a skills matrix form here.

If IT was not your career choice, there are many groups available for your specialty. This is very important. Not only is it something your potential employers want to see as it shows a passion for your chosen profession, but it also keeps you relevant! If you are job searching and spend your entire day sending out your CV waiting for that job to land, you are going to wait a bit longer. What you should be doing is NETWORKING!! (You should also be keeping your skills sharp, so keep practicing) See the section called Networking (coming soon)

The above are all ideas of how to get your CV in front of the right people and grab their interest. They need to get an idea of what you know, what VALUE you can add, so your CV should be designed to give them a feel for who you are, without knowing you are the 3rd oldest son or daughter from a family who grew up rich/poor (Yes, we get many CV’s that go into great detail about their private lives)

1st time job seekers - Offer to work for no salary if necessary - Then prove yourself! Show enthusiasm, passion and that you are able to take direction, that you want to learn and grow. Soak up everything you can learn. Some companies WILL take advantage of this but the reward is that your CV shows some on the job experience and you have work related references. Good companies will offer you a stipend/salary and even possibly a permanent position if you show them your worth. You will also need the references. Remember, companies need good employees just as much as you need a job. Google the companies and recruiters who specialize in graduates and make contact with them.

Changing jobs?

How to prepare your CV

As above but with a slightly different format


A short description

Highest Education

Start with your last/current job

Employers name and where they are - start & end dates (Month & Year)

Employed as (insert title)

Give bulleted points as to what you are tasked to do everyday

Give bulleted points of the technologies / tools you used

N.B Reason for leaving. We ALWAYS want to know why you are leaving and why you left your previous jobs, so add it in here. The likeability factor remember?

List all your jobs that are relevant to the role you are applying for in the same format.

Follow with your groups, hobbies etc.

Make sure that there are no gaps in your timeline.

You are almost ready to send out that CV, but before you do that…..

Part 4 - Practical Ideas for job searching & the Likeability Factor - Things you need to know

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Previous related posts.

Part 1 - Practical Ideas for job searching & the Likeability Factor - Part 1 - Introduction

Part 2 - Practical Ideas for job searching & the Likeability Factor - Part 2 - Preparing your Brand