The Recruiters Guide to Getting Noticed: Part 2

The Recruiters Guide to Getting Noticed: Part 2

The Do’s and Don’ts of Successful CV Submissions

The quest for the perfect CV is a daily struggle for many South African Recruitment Consultants. Spelling errors, missing information and even the lack of basic contact details, are some of the reasons for automatic rejection. No matter how qualified or experienced you are, a professional CV document is critical to any recruitment process.

Don’t fear. Kwena is here! In a recent Q&A session, our recruitment consultants put their heads together and came up with some handy CV tips to help applicants make a good impression the first time around.

Welcome to the Recruiters Guide to Getting Noticed: Part 2!

 The Do’s

1. Lay it out right

 A point that is often overlooked is how your CV is laid out, and while this may differ from industry to industry, keeping your CV in line with the standard layout is key to success. Whether you are applying for a position in finance, administration, ICT, construction or engineering, the best format to follow is as follows:

  • Your name, contact number and email address, as well as area of residence (and whether you are open to relocation)
  • It’s preferable not to use an entire page for this, it really can all be included in a brief header, at the beginning of the CV
  • A very brief professional summary relevant to the role for which you are applying
  • Education in chronological order as well as any relevant training or courses
  • Your work experience from current to oldest highlighting key KPI’s and responsibilities
  • Special skills that are relevant to the job
  • Contactable references

Tip: Make sure that you inform your referees beforehand. Not only does this prepare them for a call, but it also helps the company representative to obtain the reference to fast track the recruitment process.

2. Experience will make you rich

The most important thing about your CV in the eyes of a recruiter is your experience. Their role is to find a candidate that fits the job spec in order to proceed with the screening and interviewing process.

Highlighting relevant experience for a particular job spec allows the recruiter to check off the list of requirements outlined by a particular line manager, making his or her job much easier. Remember, a recruiter is your best friend.

Tip: Don’t embellish. State the most important facts and KPI’s that are relevant to the particular job that you are applying for. Shorter is always sweeter.

3. Stay Relevant

 Keep your education and expertise as brief as possible while including any additional training or skills certifications that are relevant to the position being advertised. Additional training shows initiative and interest, especially with regards to industries that require constant upskilling, such as the ICT sector.

Be careful to only include information that is relevant for that particular job spec. Any additional courses or training you may have done for personal interest should not be included in your CV.

Tip: Less is more. If you have a secondary and tertiary qualification, the recruiter will not particularly be interested in your primary education.


The Don’ts:

1. That horrible head shot

One of the emerging trends over the past decade is to include a photograph of yourself in your CV application. While this is not an actual pre-requisite (unless you are applying for a TV presenting role or similar), it does draw attention, allowing the recruiter to see a potential candidate in a professional light.

However, if you are going to include a face to the name, make sure that the image selected is a professional and recent one. Full body shots or selfies from last weekend comes across as extremely unprofessional, lowering your chances of making it through to the next stage of recruitment. Head shots should be clear, professional and with a neutral background, not in the bathroom or the car!. 

Tip: Think of an ID or Passport photograph with a little more character and a genuine smile.

2. It’s not a thesis

A very common question that recruiters are often asked is “how long should one’s CV be?” This is quite a tricky one, especially if your experience is extensive or if you have special skills that require lengthy descriptions. There is an element of editing required which not everyone is particularly gifted at. 

The short answer is: keep it short and concise. A good rule of thumb is anywhere between 3 to 5 pages, with particular focus on your experience, skills and qualifications. Some of the newer CV templates are great due to their formatting options which includes all pertinent information in less pages.

Fun fact: The World’s Longest CV is 37 pages long, smashing the previous best of a mere 17 pages! Please do not submit your personal thesis!

3. The Art Project

The digital day and age is an exciting time for CV makers, with a number of new colourful and artistic ways of expressing your previous work experience through quick and easy online design programmes. Unfortunately, as eye-catching and enticing as it may seem to you, your CV should still retain some form of professional decorum.

The use of eccentric fonts and colours will definitely make your CV stand out more but not for the right reasons – although you may just win a recruiter over due to comic relief. Unless you are a skilled designer, try and keep your CV to a standard format, highlighting the key information.

Tip: Recruiters in South Africa are looking at how experienced you are, not your design skills.

If you think your CV is up to scratch, visit our job portal on and submit your CV to one of our consultants.