How to Create a CV: The Ultimate Guide for South Africans

If you're reading this, you're probably ready to make a big splash in the South African job market. And trust me, that's no small feat! In South Africa, the unemployment rate hit a record high of 34.4% in the second quarter of 2021, according to Stats SA. What does that mean for you? It means you're stepping into a highly competitive arena, and you need to be fully armed to get ahead. That's where knowing how to create a CV comes into play.

According to a study by TheLadders, recruiters spend an average of just six seconds looking at a CV before they decide its fate. That's right, six seconds to showcase years of your hard work, skills, and accomplishments. Sounds intimidating, right? Well, the good news is that this guide is here to help you make every one of those seconds count.

The key to a standout CV? Customization. CareerBuilder says that 63% of recruiters assert that a CV tailored to the job at hand is the thing that captures their attention. Think of it like this:

Good Example: Marketing Specialist | ABC Corp | 2017-Present

  • Boosted brand visibility by 30% by creating an innovative social media campaign.
  • Slashed customer complaints by 40% by improving communication strategies.

Versus this not-so-great one:

Bad Example: Worked at ABC Corp. Did marketing tasks. Solved some problems.

See the difference? The first example is a power play, full of specifics and quantifiable achievements. The second? It's a weak play, vague and lacking in substance.

So, let's cut the chit-chat and dive right in. Here's how to create a CV that will make you a standout candidate in the South African job market. Ready to hustle? Let's get started!

Your CV is a personal brochure, advertising your skills, experience, and qualifications to potential employers. Every CV you create should be customised for the role you're targeting. The trick is to captivate your potential employer within the few seconds they'll spend scanning your CV. Make every second count!

In South Africa, CVs typically follow a reverse chronological order. A clear, professional font like Arial or Times New Roman is recommended. For those who need assistance in creating a standout CV, online platforms like Careers24, PNet, and JobVine offer professional CV writing services. Consistency in layout and format is key to a well-presented CV!

Ensure your name, contact number, email, and LinkedIn profile are easy to locate. Your professional summary should offer a brief, compelling snapshot of your career highlights.


Jane Doe
123 High St, Johannesburg, South Africa
(123) 456-7890

Professional Summary: Accomplished and result-oriented Finance Manager with over 10 years' experience in driving profitability, reducing costs, and streamlining business processes. Demonstrated ability to develop and execute strategic financial plans and manage budgets. Seeking a challenging role to leverage skills and experience to drive growth.

Detail your employment history, including job titles, companies, and dates. Make sure your CV radiates with action verbs and quantifiable achievements. Include your education, certifications, and professional development.


Work Experience: XYZ Company, Cape Town, South Africa
Senior Finance Manager | June 2010 - Present

  • Oversaw a R10M budget and implemented cost-saving measures, resulting in an annual saving of 15%.
  • Led a finance team of 8, consistently meeting and exceeding annual financial targets.

Education: Bachelor of Commerce in Finance | University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa | Graduated Cum Laude, 2008

Certifications: Chartered Accountant (CA) South Africa - South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), 2011

Remember to customise your CV for the job you're targeting. Use keywords from the job posting to get past Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Highlight relevant skills and experiences that align with the job role.


Job Title: Senior Finance Manager

  • Managed a finance team of 8 at XYZ Company, consistently meeting and exceeding annual financial targets.
  • Oversaw a R10M budget and implemented cost-saving measures, resulting in an annual saving of 15%.

Highlight your achievements and showcase any awards you've received. The more specific you can be about your accomplishments, the better.


  • Implemented cost-saving measures at XYZ Company, resulting in an annual saving of 15%.
  • Led the finance team to exceed annual financial targets by 10% in 2018 and 12% in 2019.
  • Received 'Finance Manager of the Year' award in 2018 and 2020.

Consider adding sections like volunteer experience, relevant projects, or professional affiliations. Proofread your CV, ask for feedback, or hire a professional CV writer on platforms like CareerJet. Attention to detail can make a difference!


Volunteer Experience: Volunteer Finance Consultant | Local NPO, Johannesburg, South Africa | 2019 - Present

Assist in creating budgets and streamlining processes.

Languages: English – Fluent, Afrikaans – Native

That's all, folks! You've just navigated the step-by-step guide to creating a CV that'll make you stand out in the South African job market. But creating a top-notch CV is just one part of the journey. You need to know where to put it into action. That's where Workclass comes in handy. This powerful platform can connect you with a plethora of opportunities that align with your skills and qualifications.

So, what are you waiting for? Utilise this guide, craft that compelling CV, and let it shine on Workclass. Remember, the combination of preparation and opportunity breeds success. Keep learning, keep growing, and keep advancing on your career path. The time to make waves in the professional world is now!

Share this post with your friends