Want to know what HR and Recruiters look for in your CV and application? 

Our HR team share some top tips and advice to help you. (And at the bottom on the this blog, you’ll find helpful weblinks to other FREE media with tips and advice on this topic.)

There are some things you should know about making a CV:

Rule-1: There’s no one right or wrong way to write and format a CV. (CVs need to be adapted to suit the job, company, and industry you’re applying to.)

Rule-2: However, there are some helpful general rules-of-thumb that can improve your CV, as well as increase the chances it’s viewed positively by the company you send it to.

Rule-3: Generally, Recruiters receive a lot of CVs and applications for every vacancy they advertise, so they’re looking for CVs that quickly give them the relevant information they need to decide if someone is qualified for the job and whether to invite them for a job interview. The more your CV can help them do this -as quickly and easily as possible- the better your chances of success when you apply for a job!

That’s the end of the ‘rules’. Writing a good CV is more about common sense, putting the work in, and being proactive. We recommend you consider the following tips and advice when writing your CV:

“Keep your CV concise, make it look good and easy to read. Using bullet-points as well as spaces between jobs and other sections in it can really help a Recruiter when they look at your CV.

Also, always include your contact details on the CV and make them easy to see on it.

(By the way, you don’t have to include your SA ID number on your CV [because of the POPI Act]. You can just say you’re an South African citizen. At ooba, we employ non-South African people, if they have the correct visa and documentation to work in South Africa.)

Generally, it’s not necessary to include personal information about things like your religion or if you smoke, etc. It’s not needed and it doesn’t really affect whether you’re chosen for most jobs, while it just adds to the length of your CV.

When it comes to your references, you don’t need to include all their details on your CV. Instead, just state that your reference details are available upon request. This helps keep you CV shorter, while letting the Recruiter know you do have references if they should need them.”


“I agree with Candice that keeping your CV as concise as possible is a good thing.

 Obviously, make sure you include all the relevant information you think is important for the Recruiter to see, but don’t include absolutely everything about yourself and your experience – especially if it’s not relevant for the job your applying for!

 Some ways you can do this is by not including absolutely every training course you’ve ever attend or every educational qualification you’ve obtained. Instead, only list the highest level one you’ve completed or most recent ones (or only ones relevant for the job).

 Also, when it comes to your work experience, if you’ve been working for more than 5-10 years then only list your most recent employment for the last 5-10 years and just say you can provide information about the older experience if the Recruiter wants to see it.”


“I recommend that on the front page of your CV (or Cover Letter) that you provide a short snap-shot of your career trajectory – all the jobs you’ve had to date.

Put your most recent jobs first on your CV and work backwards, because Recruiters are most interested in your current job (or most recent work experience).

Include your job title and the dates you worked there (including the month started and ended for each job), as well as a brief mention about your main duty and big projects.

Use the document’s header and footer for your name and contact details, so they’re always easy for the recruiter to see them if they want to contact you.

When it comes to your contact details, we only really need your email-address and your cell phone number, as well as where you currently live. Anything else, we really don’t need. You name and contact details don’t need a whole page to themselves!

Ideally, your CV shouldn’t be more than 3-pages. You only need to include enough to show you’re qualified for the job and live nearby. Any other information about you I can find out in the interview, so I don’t need to see it in your CV.

In order to assess if you’re suitable for the job and interview, we don’t need to know your favourite colour or how many children you have or if you like to read books as a hobby.”

“When it comes to listing your work experience and previous jobs, it helps the Recruiter if you put your current (or most recent) job first and your oldest job at the bottom of the list.

Also, when it comes to your work experience and applying for a new job, consider: how relevant your current experience is for the job you’re applying? If you’re most recent experience hasn’t been in that job (and especially if you haven’t done it for the last 2+ years) then you may find your chances of success in applying are much lower, because you’ll be competing against candidates with more current experience.

If you’re wanting to make a career move to a new sort of job, then this can be a more challenging route to go…but if this is what you want then you need to make sure you’ve researched what skills and qualifications you’ll need for this career change as well as what you can do to get them (before you apply and attend a job interview).

Some other CV tips I’d suggest are always check your spelling, punctuation and grammar before sending it to a company. Poor grammar and spelling mistakes make a very bad impression on me when I read someone’s CV!

Generally, you don’t need to include a picture of yourself on your CV. Your picture doesn’t really make a difference to Recruiters and they just take up space.

Sometimes pictures can even make a negative impression, especially if it’s a poor image or it’s inappropriate. Definitely don’t include pictures of other people, like your family, on your CV.”


Cover letters tend to be matter of preference. Some Recruiters like them while others believe they don’t add anything to what’s already in your CV.

Generally, if you’re not asked for a Cover Letter when applying for a job then don’t feel you need to send one.

If you do include a Cover Letter, we suggest:

“Be careful about using ‘copy-&-paste’ a lot in your Cover Letter, because if it has the wrong names in it or if it reads too generically it makes a bad impression. A Cover Letter should be crafted to speak to the particular job and company that it’s sent to.”


“Keep your Cover letter as short and relevant as possible.”


“Often, in cover letters, people write long and dense paragraphs which is a lot to read when you’re a Recruiter and you’ve received hundreds of them along with the CV. Personally, I usually don’t read cover letters; I go straight to the CV to look at the person’s work experience and career trajectory.”