Help for jobseekers: Here’s how to write a CV

The Jobseekers Series is a series of articles The Daily Vox team has put together to help prospective jobseekers. Job Seeking is a costly and difficult process. This series seeks to make it a little easier with tips and advice.

South Africa has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world. According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) of the 1st quarter of 2021, young people are worst affected in the South African labour market. COVID-19 has increased youth unemployment and the future of work.

While many industries will continue to be hit hard by the COVID19 pandemic, others are still hiring. Here are some useful tips and advice for the South African youth on how to create a CV.

A curriculum vitae is Latin for “course of life”, often shortened as CV. It may also be referred to as a résumé, French for “summary”. It’s a documented overview of someone’s work experience and achievements and it used to apply for jobs.

A CV should include:

Personal information 

This includes your full name, contact details and ID number. Make sure your phone number, email address, and home address are up to date and that you are checking them regularly. If an employer can’t get hold of you, they’re not going to offer you an interview.

Work experience

List your work experience and voluntary jobs, starting with your most recent job and working your way back to your first job. Include the dates you started and left, the companies’ names and a summary of your key duties at each job. 

If you don’t have work experience and/or voluntary experience, don’t panic. Recruiters are looking for more than just work experience, so it’s important to use your CV to showcase who you are and why you are a great fit for. Include your hobbies and interests, and a cover letter. Submitting a cover letter alongside your CV is a great way to ask for learning opportunities. Remember to keep it professional.


Here you’ll need to list all your qualifications, starting with the most recent and ending with your first. Remember to add in the start and end dates, as well as the names of the institutions you attended. Any other training, short courses or personal achievements.


Write down all the necessary skills you acquired at your various jobs.


If you’re offered a job the employer will usually ask for two references which can be previous employers, college, school or university teachers. You don’t need to put who they are on your CV but it’s good to have them in mind and to write ‘References available on request’ at the bottom of your CV.

If requested, include their full names, positions and current contact details. Remember to ask for their permission before listing their names.

Related article: SA youth unemployment: What’s the problem?

CV Tips:

No pictures. Adding a picture to your resume could hurt your chances of getting the job. If recruiters need and/or want to see you, they’ll be able to view the pictures on your social media profiles or meet you face-to-face during an interview.

Double check all your spelling, punctuation, capital letters and grammar. Use spell check or get someone else to read over it.

Make sure the CV is clear, well presented and easy to read.

Your CV should be one to two pages long. Any longer and the employer is probably not going to read it all.

Tailor your CV to the job you are applying for. For example, a CV for a retail job will look very different to a lawyer’s CV because the employers are looking for different things. 

Make sure your CV is updated – the more recent, the better. 

Make sure your CV is PDF format. The main advantage of sending a PDF is that the formatting, layout and design won’t change, no matter what device it’s opened on. It will look the same on a mobile, tablet or desktop and the text won’t distort or overlap.

The Job Seekers Series:

Help for jobseekers: Here’s how to write a CV – The Daily Vox 

Jobseekers: How to apply for a job in-person – The Daily Vox

Jobseekers: How to write a cover letter – The Daily Vox 

The List: Popular job search websites in South Africa

Jobseekers: 7 common interview questions – The Daily Vox