Practical CV Tips | View CV Tips

Simple and professional CV Template

More often than not your CV will be the only tool available to a prospective employer when he makes his decision on who to meet for an interview.  It is of paramount importance that your CV is professional, simple, concise and targeted.

The recruiting employer only spends an average of 30 seconds on reviewing potential candidate CV’s.  You can therefore not count on your CV being read in its entirety to showcase your skills, talent and experience.  Remember that first impressions last, so make the best of your opportunity to secure the interview, and ultimately, the job.

To ensure that your CV is memorable and has an impact, as well as is in a professional and easy to read form, we suggest you make use of our CV template.

Let us assist you to improve the quality of your CV

Click here to view a comprehensive CV example (template).

Here are a few tips to improve your CV and increase your chances to secure the jobs you are looking for. These CV tips could mean the difference between being considered for the position or not.

  1. Be clear on your reasons for leaving your previous and current employers. This is especially important when you have had short durations at a place of employment. If you were engaged on a contract basis be sure to mention this.
  2. Be sure to include your education details, both secondary and tertiary. Include the dates that you spent with these institutions and the subject matter. List any professional bodies you may be affiliated to (e.g. ICB)
  3. Keep your CV brief but include all necessary information including your name and contact details, education and employment details. It is important to list your full responsibilities at your place of employment. Additional important information to include is availability to start, transport and salary requirements.
  4. Ensure you show a consistent time line in your CV. Employers are sensitive to gaps in a CV. If you spent a period of time where you were not in formal employment it is best to mention this. The ideal would be to include a timeline of your study and employment history since secondary school.
  5. When listing employment always start with the most recent employment first. Employers are most interested in the skills that you are currently, or have recently been utilising.
  6. Ensure that there is no spelling and grammatical errors in your CV. Employers are usually looking for polished, well educated individuals to join their establishments.
  7. Computer literacy is important, include all software you are familiar with as well as your level of experience on each application (e.g. Theory only, limited practical, solid practical)
If you would like to make use of Sage Pastel People Placements, complete the CV example (template) and e-mail the completed CV to

Creating the perfect CV that is professional is easy: simply adhere to the following conventions:

  • Be professional - Avoid slang, jargon and inappropriate abbreviations.
  • Be concise, use bullet points and brief explanations.
  • Keep font and font size consistent throughout your CV. We recommend ‘Arial’ size ‘10 -12’.
  • When listing employment experience always start with the most recent company that you have worked at first. Employers are most interested in the skills that you are currently, or have recently acquired.
  • Be sure to include your education details, both secondary and tertiary. In addition list any professional bodies you may be affiliated to.
  • Computer literacy is important, include all the software applications that you are familiar with as well as your level of experience on each application (e.g. ‘theory only’, ‘limited practical’, ‘solid practical’ etc)
  • Avoid using too many graphics or colour as it could be distorted when your CV is printed in black and white or if faxed.
  • Use spell check and ask two colleagues or friends to check your CV for grammar and spelling errors.
  • Ensure that you personalise your email and that you address it to the applicable person. Refrain from sending bulk emails to numerous agencies to companies. Note: If you forward an existing e-mail, remember to remove the ‘FW:’ in the subject line.
  • Utilise a minimum of two of your most recent References.

Follow these basic interview tips, and you will be well on your way to attaining that dream job. 

  • Smile and maintain eye contact with the interviewer/s.
  • Sit still.  Don't lean on the interviewer's desk.
  • Don't smoke unless you are invited to.
  • Do use the interviewer's name, but not first name unless invited to do so.
  • Avoid using swear words and slang expressions.
  • Answer questions honestly and concisely. Don't ramble and don't attempt to take command of the job interview. If you don't know the answer to a question, say so.
  • Don’t criticise or be rude about your past employers, gossip about them or give out confidential information. It is unethical, and shows you cannot be trusted.
  • If you don't agree with something, say so politely - and say why. You have a mind of your own, so don't be afraid. On the other hand, rudeness and aggression are not admired and may destroy your prospects.
  • Do not discuss your personal, domestic or financial problems in an interview.
  • Leave questions about salary and job benefits until the end of the interview.
  • Do not discuss an expected salary different from the one discussed with the Sage Pastel People Placements Consultant.  Negotiations will be handled by the consultant.
  • At the end of the interview, thank the interviewer for his / her time and interest.
  • Soon after the interview, review your performance and make some notes. Interview notes will be a valuable guide in preparation for future interviews.

Some Typical interview Questions

There are some typical interview questions that are generally asked – bear them in mind and prepare some answers before the job interview.

  • Why are you applying for this position?
  • What are your goals?
  • What do you expect to be doing in 10 years from now?
  • Do you think that your education prepared you well for this job?
  • What can you offer this company?
  • What types of people do you like working with?
  • Do you like working on your own?
  • Tell us about yourself?
  • What does success mean to you?
  • How did you hear about this job?
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • If you were hiring a graduate for this job, what qualities would you look for?
  • What do you expect to be earning in five years?
  • What is more important to you, the money or the type of job?
  • What do you consider to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • Describe the relationship that should exist between a supervisor and those reporting to him / her?
  • What two or three things are most important to you in your job?
  • Are you willing to travel?
  • How do you work / cope under pressure?
  • What university subjects did you like most / least, and why?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • Do you think that your results are a good indication of your academic achievement?
  • Do you have plans for further studies?
  • What have you learned from participating in extracurricular activities?
  • How would you describe your ideal job?
  • What major problem have you encountered and how did you deal with it?
  • How do you feel about change?
  • What have you done by way of self-development over the past few years?

Questions to Ask Employers

These are some of the questions that you may like to ask employers:

  • What are the opportunities for personal career growth?
  • What are your expectations for new members of staff?
  • How is an employee evaluated and promoted?
  • Describe the work environment?
  • How can you utilise my skills?
  • What is the overall structure of the department where the position is located?
  • When can I expect to be told whether or not I have been successful in securing the position?
  • Remember to keep your list of questions short. Try not to sound like you are interviewing the employer!

What Employers Want

Usually interviewers assess prospective employees along the following lines:

  • Capability and suitability for the job
  • Social skills
  • Initiative and energy
  • Motivation
  • General interest in the job
  • Stability and level of maturity
  • Self reliance / independence
  • Leadership qualities

Do bear in mind that being invited to an interview does not guarantee you a job. The more interviews you attend, the greater the chance that you will get the job. Look at all the interviews you attend as a learning process in preparation for the career of your life! GOOD LUCK!

Cancellation of Interviews with Sage Pastel People Placements

We feel it important to stress the fact that we regard the relationship with our clients as very sensitive. We have previously experienced the embarrassing situation of candidates not arriving for interviews without notice.  It thus goes without saying that such a situation can cause damage to any Recruitment Company.  We request a 24 hour notification of cancellation telephonically.  E-mailed cancellations will not be accepted.  

Need to Brush up on Sage Pastel Accounting skills?

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