CV Rules

CV Rules

What ARE the new CV rules?

Knowing what employers like when it comes to CVs can be the difference between yours being read or passed over. How important is style and design? Should you add a photo? Here are some new guidelines for job hunters…

1. Concise, cutting-edge CV

Everything we knew about communication has changed in the last 10 years, and a boring MS Office template may no
longer cut it. It goes without saying that grammar should be flawless, but pay attention to word choices too. Ditch
outdated phrases like ‘excellent communication skills’ and opt for more specific language: ‘persuades others’, ‘leads
group discussions’ or ‘speaks effectively’.

‘Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence.’ – Vince Lombardi

2. What not to include lists a few things that are not relevant to employment or could put you at risk of not being considered. They include: marital status, religion, ID number, hobbies, your age, unprofessional sounding
email addresses, your work contact number, your boss’s name, social media URLs not relevant to your position, experiences from more than 15 years ago, salary information, and reasons for leaving positions. Much
of this can be left to the interview.


3. Use visuals to your advantage

Making your skills visually engaging will allow you to stand out as a candidate, as visual information is processed differently and recalled more easily. Don’t use fussy fonts. Calibri, Times New Roman, and Arial are the safest bets (it’s a CV, not a kid’s party invitation!). It’s worth noting that 86% of CVs are discarded when they include a photo (according to Although employers are not allowed to discount candidates on the basis of race,
age and gender, a photograph supplies all this information before candidates have had a chance to be objectively screened.

4. Tailor your CV for each application

It’s time-consuming, but worth the trouble. Use language from the job spec when describing your skills and experience. Include only relevant education.

5. Use the cover letter

Your cover letter must do just three things: tell the employer who you are, tell them why you’re the best fit for their organisation, and ask for the interview. It’s that simple.


Joni van der Merwe

About Joni van der Merwe

Your Family’s Digital editor. Avid retweeter. When I’m not scrolling Instagram you’ll find me in my garden. Keen on DIY and I don’t believe there’s anything that can’t be fixed with some chalk paint.


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