You are looking for a job so you need to prepare your CV, or else an employer is interested in you and has asked you to send a CV.

But what is a CV, and what is it for? Curriculum Vitae is Latin and means “course of life.” Your CV is about your life and what you have learnt along the way. It is in note form so a potential employer can very quickly get a feeling of your story – what you’ve done in your life, what you’re interested in – without reading pages and pages. Based on your CV, your possible future employer may invite you for a job interview.

When you have very few qualifications, you may think that your CV will hardly have anything in it. But don’t forget that your skills are not only your qualifications. What are your interests? What voluntary work have you done? What achievements have you had? All of these things give an idea of your personality and your potential. This helps employers choose the best person for the job.

In your CV, you should show your strengths but never give false information. You could lose your job and damage your reputation for including something false or dishonest in your CV. This could mean that you risk getting a good job again.

Keep your CV short, logical and neatly typed so that your interviewer can read your information quickly. Remember that the person reading it is going to judge you on your CV so make sure there are no mistakes, particularly silly spelling errors.

A careless CV makes a bad impression. A busy employer, with a pile of CVs on the desk, will probably discard immediately a CV with lots of errors. So do double-check as they won’t waste time on a person who is too careless to pay attention to detail.


A sample CV

(Below is an example of a CV. You can also find lots of good examples on the internet.)


Miss Nonzolo Soyizwapi
Date of birth: 30 December 1996
ID Number: 9612301169008
Address: 16 Walu/Walu Road, Cross Roads, 7750
Telephone: 083 865 4911

Nationality: South African
Languages: I am fluent in Xhosa and English. I understand Afrikans.
Driver’s licence: I have a learner’s licence and am taking driving lessons.

Education and qualifications:
Certificate in Computer Literacy, Cross Roads Computer College, 2016

National Senior Certificate, Nelson Mandela High, 2010- 2014
Subjects: Xhosa, English, Maths Literacy, Accountancy, Computer literacy, Drama

Choir singing: Assembly Church, Langa, 2015-2016
Debating: Chairperson of school debating society, 2014
Drama: Acting in school plays, 2015-2016

Interests: Acting, dancing, reading, writing poetry

Sport: Community netball team

Community involvement:
Teaching reading at a primary school in Cross Roads, 2015
Organising a litter collection in our street 2017.

Employment and volunteering:
Waitron at Red Cafe, Wynberg, 2016-2017
For a two-year period I waitressed at Red Café in Wynberg. I learned to use the order processing system and cash register. I also received customer service training.

Childcare assistant at Happy Hours ECD Centre, 2016
I volunteered as a childcare assistant at the ECD centre. I helped with reading to the children, preparing food, and outdoor play.

Other achievements:
* Debating Prize, 2014
* Best Actor Award in school drama productions, 2015-2016
* FunDza Certificate of Completion: Introduction to parts of Speech online course, 2017
* FunDza Certificate of Completion and Excellence: Understanding Poetry, 2017

Mrs G Khoza
Head of Department, Nelson Mandela High
Cell: 086 543 2188

Miss X Mbele
ECD Teacher, Happy Hours ECD Centre
Cell: 073 887 4390

Mr J Williams
Manager, Red Café
Tel: 021 799 4121


Planning your CV

Here is a list to help you write your own CV. Remember you must be truthful, but also don’t forget things about yourself that could tell an employer valuable information about you.

Personal details
Here are the personal details you need to include:
Full names, ID, birth date, address, telephone number
Languages that you speak and/or read and write
Driver’s licence or learner’s licence

Educational and qualifications
If you did very well in your matric, and you don’t have much else in your CV, then you can list your subjects and results. If you didn’t do so well, just list your subjects! But as you get older it is less important for people to see the subjects you studied. Do include the dates of when you studied.

Here are some ideas of talents or skills you could list:
singing in a band, playing chess, dancing for fun, bridal make up, hair-braiding, organising a disco, catering, children’s parties, dressmaking, repairing cars, fridges, washing machines, cell phones, constructing fencing, fixing roofs, bricklaying, plumbing, making furniture or kitchen-units, designing a logo.

These are things you spend time doing, such as:
reading, art, drama, knitting, fashion, making music, swimming, gardening, writing poetry. (Watching TV is probably not the best one to list as it is quite a passive activity!)

You don’t have to play sport professionally to include it. If you choose you could include it under your interests (the previous heading). Here are some ideas:
running, hiking in the mountains, skate-boarding, boxing at a club, playing soccer, rugby, cricket, baseball, netball, swimming in the sea, table tennis.

Community involvement
What do you do for other people? What do you do in your community? Here are some ideas:
fixing cell phones for old people, singing in a choir, looking after neighbours’ children, caring for old people, cooking for your family and the sick neighbour, coaching soccer, planting a neighbourhood garden, helping with the vegetable garden at the school, helping at the animal clinic.

Employment experience and/or volunteering
Here you list when you have actually worked for money: A waitron, gardener, child-carer, chef, builder, dressmaker, mechanic, electrician, plumber, security guard. Give dates and include one sentence to give an indication of your responsibilities or new skills you may have learned.

Importantly, if you have volunteered in a professional way, see the example above, then include it here too but do mention that it was a volunteer position!

If you have been employed in a number of positions previously, then separate your experience into two sections: Employment experience and then Volunteer experience.

Other achievements
If you have received an award or certificate or otherwise been recognised, include a short description of it here.

You need to give the name or names of people who will give you a good reference: that means that they believe you are a good person to employ – you are trustworthy, reliable etc. Your referee could be your school principal, a teacher, a religious leader, a former employer. Be sure to ask the person if he/she is willing to give you a reference and make sure that you include their correct telephone number.