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Writing your first CV

by Media Xpose

Over the years you will write numerous CVs as your experience changes, and you apply for various job. The first CV, however, will always be the most challenging as it is something new.

Firstly, plan a structure for your CV. There are various online examples, but a simple basic one is shown here.

Header should include the following:

  • Name
  • Location (i.e. Cape Town, South Africa)
  • Contact details (phone number, email address)
  • LinkedIn profile link (or a website/blog if applicable – a place that shows your portfolio of work, skills, etc.)

TIP: Aspects such as sexual orientation, religion, marital status, etc., can leave you open to potential discrimination, so best to leave it out.

A brief summary

Not everyone includes this, but it is a good to introduce yourself, your skills, capabilities and certain elements of your personality. This should be about 40-200 words. An example could be:

Marketing graduate with a passion for creating innovative digital and print advertising campaigns. Savvy communicator and deeply passionate about connecting companies to customers. Committed to achieving results, deadline driven, works well under pressure and a keen interest to continually learn and grow in a professional capacity.


In this section you would include your skills, which differ from person to person. Points could be aspects such as communication, customer service, etc.

Work experience

If you have had previous work experience, this is relatively easy to complete. If you have had no previous work experience, use this section to include volunteer work, etc. For each experience include the following:

  • job title
  • period of work experience (dates)
  • organisation
  • responsibilities


List your most recent educational qualification first. This section should include:

  • university/college/school
  • qualification
  • period (dates)
  • subjects (optional)


If you have no work experience achievements, you can include academic merit awards here.

Hobbies and interests

This is an optional section but if included should ideally list interests and hobbies that show career growth or aspects that reveal your personality in a positive light.


This section includes the names and contact details of people you have worked with that can attest to your character and skills. Two to three references are generally acceptable. Include the following:

  • referee’s name
  • job title
  • company
  • telephone number
  • email address

A rule of thumb is to alert references in advance if you have listed them in your CV. If you have no prior work experience, you could include a lecturer or teacher.

TIP: Make sure you check your spelling and grammar in your CV. It is also a good idea to get someone to read it – they might pick up errors you missed. Check alignment, spacing and standardisation.  

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