You spent hours crafting your first CV, showcasing your school years, qualifications and experience, but employers look at it for maybe nine seconds, if you’re lucky, and throw it aside.

The Mzansi job market is tough even for people who have years of experience, but it is particularly challenging for young graduates applying for entry-level positions. First-time CV writers must put in the extra effort to develop a stand-out CV.

“Research by the UK’s youth programme, National Citizen Service, found that applications for junior positions have skyrocketed, increasing pressure on employers who have to wade through hundreds of CVs,” said Wonga Ntshinga, senior head of Programme: Faculty of ICT at The Independent Institute of Education.

Ntshinga said the competition for entry-level positions in Mzansi is even tighter, and the need for your CV to put your foot in the door can’t be stressed enough.

“You are at a tremendous disadvantage if your CV is poorly written and does not sell you effectively. It is almost certain that you won’t be invited to an interview if that is the case,” said Ntshinga.

In addition to making sure that your qualifications and experience match the technical needs of an advertised position, jobseekers should:

Craft a CV specifically for that industry

“As always, Google is your friend. Do an image search for CV examples in your industry, and demonstrate that you are in touch with the culture and approach to business in your chosen sector.”

Showcase your competence but also character

Why are you perfect for the position? Show, don’t tell! Raise examples from your student or school career to prove your value as well as your qualifications and other details.

Keep it short and to the point

Less is certainly NOT more. Give yourself nine seconds to scan your CV. Are your main selling points clear from a first look – are you qualified for the position you want?

Focus on facts and figures

Don’t speak in general terms – use facts and figures to prove what you have done. Do it like this: “Was involved in Project X, Company Y as Production Co-ordinator on a R5 million project with responsibility for a, b and c”.

Ntshinga said all CVs must demonstrate that the applicant understands the position and business of the prospective employer, which means generic CVs are unacceptable.