CV Building

(for career advice click here)

This is a step by step guidance to compiling a CV. There is a template available for download included at the end of this page; but go through this step-by-step process so that you know what to add or remove on the templates. The step-by-step process and the template formats provided on this site are slightly different but both acceptable.

Please note that some companies might require certain details to be included or omitted from the CV, so be sure to find out if this is the case with the company you are applying to (usually this will be stated by the company and an example or guidance will be provided). The outline below is of a general CV.

A proper CV should include the following:

Personal details (some companies might not require this as these details will be filled in on the application form)

These are at the top of your CV, acts as an introduction and tells your potential employers about who you are and where you are from. Should include the following:

  • FULL name (surname and first names)
  • Sex (male/female)
  • Date of birth
  • Identity number (or passport number if not South African)
  • Nationality
  • Relationship status (married/single/widowed)
  • Home address (and postal address if different from home address)
  • Contact details – phone number(s) and email address
  • Health status – do you have any chronic health conditions? If not, just say “good/excellent”
  • Driver’s licence – if applicable, in instances where the job you are applying for requires driving or having a driver’s license will increase your chances of getting the position/job if mentioned.
  • Home language
  • Other languages – this is especially important for positions where you will be working with people, so it might work to your advantage including other languages that you are familiar with.

Educational background

  • Highest qualification – this is the highest grade passed or diploma/degree if you have one.
  • Name of institution at which the qualification was obtained.
  • Year at which the qualification was obtained.
  • Subjects passed
  • Current academic level if you are still in studying, including grade if still in school or program/course (degree/diploma) & year of study if in tertiary, and name of the institution.

Leadership positions (if applicable)

  • These are all the leadership positions held previously and currently, include the title of the position and the years active e.g. Help Me Up president (August 2017 – present). List the positions in a point form.
  • Provide a short description of each position.

Awards and achievements (if applicable)

  • Same as leadership positions, mention what the award was for and the year obtained. List the achievements in a point form. These include academic, sports etc.

Work experience (if applicable) – list all the companies/organisations you have ever worked for.

  • Employer – this is the company you worked for.
  • Position held
  • Duration – start month & year – end month & year

Please note that anything that you did and got paid for qualifies as employment (formal/informal). List these in point form, so for each company worked for you will have 3 points (Employer, position held, and duration).

Community involvement 

This is any voluntary work done or you are currently doing. Also include short description and duration.


These are the people who can give a valid opinion about you and your abilities. These include professional (teachers, employers, supervisors etc) and personal (e.g. colleague/co-worker) references.

Note: Ask permission before using people as references, and it might work to your advantage to let them know what kind of job you are applying for and what skills are required.

  • Referee’s name
  • Job title
  • Company
  • Contact details – phone number (must) and email (if available). For phone numbers, if possible, include their work and cell numbers.

Note: Find out from the company you are applying to what supporting documents are needed if any.

CVs and cover letters document by University of Cape Town – click Here

For a CV template click here.