GetSmarter is a premier online education company that partners with prestigious universities and leading organisations to offer a variety of online courses and education solutions.

Business | Tips to set your CV apart

By Emma Eastman

The layout, look and overall presentation of a person’s curriculum vitae are very important. When putting together a CV, take your time and make sure you are happy with it. Essentially, a CV is a piece of paper that introduces you to a company; it is a tool you use to market yourself. If your CV is well presented, it will get your foot in the door. When companies advertise job openings, they receive many CVs and therefore it is important that yours stands out from the rest. Take a look at these three areas.

1. Covering letter
A covering letter should accompany your CV. There are three reasons for this letter. Firstly, it directs your application to the appropriate person or department in the organisation that you are applying for a job in. Secondly, it customises your CV to be in line with the requirements of the position. Thirdly, it draws the organisation attention to specific things that will set you apart from other applicants.

It is imperative that the covering letter is neat, concise and to the point. Avoid long, wordy paragraphs.

It is a good idea to address the covering letter to the person who will be receiving it. In your opening paragraph, introduce yourself  (e.g. “As a graduate in…”) and mention the reason for your application (e.g. “I am sending my CV in response to your advertisement for…”).

Body of letter
In the body of the letter, you need to explain why you are applying for the job and motivate why you would be successful in the position. You can also use the body of the letter to draw attention to certain relevant information about you that makes you more suitable for the position (like specific experience or skills). The covering letter is not a regurgitation of your CV. It shows an organisation that your CV is worthy of consideration. Essentially, its aim is to highlight why you are interested in them and why they should be interested in you.  

2. CV layout
It is preferable to keep you CV concise (about two pages). There are a number of different styles and conventions with CVs and there are numerous software packages available to help you construct a CV – but it’s best to grasp the idea of how to construct a CV and ask professionals for pointers. Be innovative and use space wisely to increase its readability. Attach written references as appendices. There are two main CVs formats.

Chronological CV
A chronological CV layout is used if you are applying for a professional position or advancement in your current job. This format includes information about your education, training and work experience, beginning with the most recent. Give careful thought to it; for example, if there are breaks in your work experience, give an explanation for this.

Functional CV
A functional CV layout is the best way to market yourself if you are changing to a new career path or your past employment is not related to the one you are entering. This format emphasises your skills. Describe your personal characteristics and strengths and back them up with evidence. Most employers look out for people skills, self-reliance, problem solving and specialist skills.

3. Google CV
Most organisations these days will conduct an online search on someone they are about to interview or hire. Your online reputation is formed by what appears on the first couple of pages of search results that Google returns for your name. With the amount of personal information available on the internet, ensuring that you make a good impression online is essential. These listings have become known as your Google CV. 

It is important to do a search on yourself regularly to see what comes up. Make sure that any negative listings do not come up first. To combat this, you will need to add more content to push the negative posts lower in the search rankings.

Here are some points on how to successfully build your Google CV:

  • Create your own website or blog
  • Make sure your website or blog is regularly updated with quality content
  • Have a strong online presence by become involved online and participating in forums and blogs
  • Have an active profile on social networking sites, as these sites rank well in search engine listings and offer trusted link

This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution license. 

Back to SmartyPants Newsletter - January 2012 Edition

Related articles:


#1 2012-01-11 15:28
I likes these interested field of doing things
#2 2013-12-13 12:52
Its amazing, looking at the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you provide. I'll bookmark your blog and visit it weekly for your new posts.
#3 2013-12-24 08:54
Tips and advice to make resume stand out of the crowd are the ones, which I don’t want to miss, as I am preparing for one of the important interviews.
#4 2013-12-24 08:56
Tips and advice to make resume stand out of the crowd are the ones, which I don’t want to miss, as I am preparing for one of the important interviews.

Add comment


Subscribe to our newsletter

Find us on facebook and follow us on twitter
Phone: +27 (0)21 447 7565 | Fax: +27 (0)21 447 8344 | Email:
4th Floor Fairland House, c/o Browning & Main Road, Observatory, 7925, Cape Town | PO Box 24058, Claremont, 7735, South Africa
Privacy policy | Terms and conditions | GetSmarter © 2012