Lately, I’ve received numerous calls from job seekers looking for assistance with their personal branding. While this is not my primary occupation, I enjoy offering help wherever possible.

If you need to revamp your CV and are uncertain about where to begin or lack the financial resources to hire someone, here are a few valuable tips.

Crafting an Effective CV

Simplicity is key. Skip the front page, fancy fonts, and borders. Including a front page with your name is wasteful, as most recruiters tend to print off CVs (naughty!). Let’s do our part to save the trees.

Begin with a concise header containing your name, surname, contact number, email address, and a link to your LinkedIn profile. Including your location is also beneficial, as it helps recruiters determine if the job’s location aligns with yours. For instance, if the position is based in Noordhoek (Deep South of Cape Town) and you reside in Durbanville (Northern Suburbs of Cape Town), it prevents wasted time due to commuting challenges.

Let’s dive into your introduction paragraph. Write two paragraphs summarising your career journey, highlighting your strengths and experience. This initial part of your CV should showcase your professional trajectory and accomplishments.

Next, we move on to the experience section. Use relevant keywords to begin with your most recent role, including the company name, job title, start date, and end date, and a brief description of your responsibilities. It’s helpful to mention your reasons for leaving, as this provides clarity to recruiters or hiring managers, saving time and minimising follow-up questions. Additionally, don’t forget to include any career gaps, as life circumstances sometimes necessitate breaks, and that’s completely understandable; we’re all human, afterall.

Following the experience section, detail your education, starting with the most recent. Highlight any relevant short courses completed as well. Every detail counts.

To further showcase your character, consider adding a section on volunteer work. This demonstrates your commitment and the values that are important to you.

Lastly, don’t forget to mention your achievements, awards, and skills on your CV. It’s important to highlight these accomplishments to create a comprehensive profile.

I believe it’s not advisable to include references in your application. Instead, it’s better to mention “references available on request.” Let me explain why since you’re naturally curious. By not including the referee’s details, you can personally reach out to your preferred ex-manager or colleague, informing them about the position you’re applying for and refreshing their memory about your capabilities. This approach allows them to allocate dedicated time for your reference and provide a more thoughtful response. It’s also considerate to ask for their permission beforehand.

Updating your LinkedIn Profile

Once you have updated your CV, carefully review your LinkedIn profile to ensure that all the information aligns with what is stated on your CV. This includes everything from job titles and dates to roles and responsibilities. While logged into LinkedIn, take the opportunity to make any necessary updates to your profile. Let’s start from the top.

Please ensure that you have checked your LinkedIn URL. If there is a number appended to your name you can update this to reflect only your name instead. Follow the link to access the Edit your custom URL option located at the top right of the page. Remove the numbers and save the changes. Don’t forget to update the link address on your CV as well.

When it comes to your header image, you can use a company-provided image for all staff members or create one representing your professional identity.

When choosing a profile picture, it’s important to use a photo of yourself rather than a company logo. Ideally, the photo should be recent and focus on your head and shoulders. Remember to smile! While a clear background is preferred, if you only have a photo taken at your desk that you feel is appropriate, you can use an online tool like remove.bgto remove the background.

Your headline holds significant importance. While many people simply use their job title and company name, you can do so much more with it. It serves as the first impression for recruiters and hiring managers when they search for profiles. With a limit of 220 characters, I recommend including a recognisable job title, industry, and contact details. This will allow someone to understand what you do at a glance. You can also craft a concise sentence to further explain your role, but I prefer the direct approach.

The summary or about section is a fantastic opportunity to concisely showcase your career and incorporate relevant keywords for your job and industry. Aim for about two paragraphs in this section. This can be copied from the one on your CV.

Regarding Experience and Education, it’s important to include everything, including your duties, as mentioned in your CV. Remember, recruiters and hiring managers often search for specific keywords, so make it easy for them to find you. By optimising your profile with comprehensive information, you increase your chances of being discovered for potential opportunities.

To enhance your profile, consider adding additional sections such as licences, awards, courses, and volunteer work. Simply scroll up and click on ‘Add Profile Section.’ Don’t hold back; include up to 50 skills to showcase your abilities.

Networking on LinkedIn

Once you have prepared your profile and are satisfied, compile a list of approximately 10 companies you aspire to work for. Feel free to extend the list if you are open to remote work. Utilise LinkedIn to search for these companies and proceed to follow them. Next, search LinkedIn for those companies’ HR personnel or Head of Department individuals. Send them a connection request, but include a personalised note explaining your motivation for connecting. Remember that LinkedIn now limits the number of connection requests you can send, so choose wisely if you use a free profile.

While I’m at it, here’s an extra tip for you on job searching:

To search for jobs online, set up a Boolean string and type that into the Google Search Bar.

Example of a Boolean string: (“Food and Beverage Manager” OR “Food & Beverage Manager” OR “FB Manager”) (“Cape Town”) (jobs).

The results will pop up with a blue banner that reads ‘Jobs’. Scroll down to the end of that block and click on XXX+ more jobs.

I hope you found these tips useful.  If you have any questions or need professional assistance with your CV or LinkedIn profile please don’t hesitate to get in touch.