When you’re in the market for a new job, you’re embarking on a major sales pitch. The value proposition is you and potential employers are looking for someone who is a cut above the rest. How you present yourself is critical to your success. Unfortunately, none of us can rely on our good looks or sparkling personality to win over our potential employer. We have to rely on cover letters and a near-perfect CV and if these are subpar we don’t stand a chance at winning that prized job.


It’s no secret that the job market is tough. Employers are hesitant to simply give anyone a chance. Employees are considered an asset so employers see their staff members as an investment. This means they want to be as sure as possible that they’ll get return on their investment from hiring you. You need to present a strong case for your employment from the very first point of communication, and so your CV must look pristine.


Whether you’re a recent graduate or a seasoned employee looking for a change, entering the job market requires some preparation. If you’re able to, look into a variety of courses that’ll enhance your current skillset. If you can’t think of anything you could study to make your current skills look a little more shiny then consider studying something that is a value-add regardless of your industry.


Marketing courses are a great go-to. Many graduates take on a post graduate marketing course or even do an MBA in marketing because it’s considered so useful regardless of career path. You could also consider business management courses or even human resource courses for further career enhancement. These short courses are like botox for your CV, they support your entire case and make you look like you’re awake and alert to what the business world needs.


Here’s how to ensure your CV looks its best at all times.


Trim the fat

Get rid of what is unnecessary. If you’re a recent graduate you need your high school graduation and tertiary results listed but if you’re moving into your third or fourth job then get rid of this information. Similarly, if you’re applying for your first job then list your first jobs (waitering, retail and so on) but if you’re already established in a career then this might not be needed. Consider the proficiencies you’ve listed too. If you’re adept at the entire Microsoft Suite then say so and don’t list your ability to operate Word and Excel.


Consistency and format

Nothing screams lack of professionalism like typos and messy text or formatting. Stick to one font and one text size. Be consistent with how you style your layout. Have you bolded your subheadings? Have you used colons? Have you bulleted your lists? Whatever you started with when creating your CV, you should continue with regardless of how many times you changed or update the document. This sounds like such a small unimportant detail but your CV should be considered in the same way an artist presents their portfolio work. It must have clean lines, tidy formatting and remain consistent.


Align to the job

When applying for a specific job, read the advertisement thoroughly. Note what they list as important requirements and what attributes they’re looking for in a new employee. Make sure that both your cover letter and CV highlights the necessities they’ve listed. Of course, you can only showcase what you are actually skillset is but if they’re looking for leadership abilities and you’ve been the project manager on a number of jobs in your current position then highlight that. It’s important that you draw attention to what you want them to see. You can do this in your cover letter but also through reworking your CV to showcase the most important bits first.


A little blurb helps

This is often difficult to do because none of us really enjoying tooting our own horn. But if your blurb is well written and to the point it will give your prospective employee an idea of your personality. Use keywords that will grab their attention and ensure that you believe these statements of yourself too. You need to be able to substantiate who you claim to be and why you’d be an asset within their organisation.


Substantiate your wins

Your wins are your promotions, your award-winning work, your ability to save a failing project and so on. While your CV should not read like an essay you should definitely give an idea of why you managed to do what you did. For instance, if you were promoted then give an idea of why you were promoted. Name drop if your best work was completed for big clients and don’t be afraid of spotlighting these highlights in your career. Even as a recent graduate you can make mention of your great achievements that are a bit more than simply getting your degree. For instance, being a leader on the Student Representative Council is something to let your employer know.

About The Author

I was born in the Eastern Cape, close to the waves. After getting my degree in Media, Communication and Culture, I knew it was time to make my way to a big city. Not wanting to leave the ocean, Cape Town was the natural choice for me. At first I thought the fast paced world of marketing. But I never forgot that what I'd always wanted to do was write. Now I'm a freelance writer, where my office is my bedroom and my platform is the World Wide Web. I live with my partner and our two beloved Great Danes. When not reading or writing you can probably find me on the beach or exploring nature trails.

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