The complete guide: 10 things you MUST do when writing a New Zealand CV/Resume

CV – Curriculum Vitae – Latin: The course (path) of my life.

You must make yourself the solution to an employer’s problems!

If you’ve not worked in marketing before, you’re about to start.

cv marketing
Trying to get a job has more in common with marketing than most people realise. You must demonstrate that you are the best answer to an employer’s needs.

Because, when you write a CV, you’re becoming a marketer, with you as the product.

From watching TV ads, you’ll have realised that businesses use different ways to promote the stuff they’re selling and that different strategies can work equally well.

Similarly, there really is no official ‘right way’ to write a CV. Different recruiters have different opinions about what makes ‘the perfect CV’.

Just like TV ads, the bottom line is that a CV is right if it’s successful – if it gets you an interview.

That said, from our own experience, here are the ingredients for a perfect New Zealand CV.

1) Keep it easy to read – don’t waffle – NZ employers don’t like overlong CVs

10 page CVs are a recipe for disaster. In the words of one well-known New Zealand recruiter, they’re:

“a bloody waste of time”


Well, that’s my CV written.
Is there any call for
poets in New Zealand?

Curb your desire to share your life story – yes your schooldays might have been the happiest days of your life, and it’s heart-warming that you’re proud of the school prize you won for poetry too – but your prospective Kiwi employer doesn’t want to know these things – well, only if they’re recruiting poets!

Edit your CV until it’s two to three pages long. If you absolutely must run to four pages, make sure that every word you write earns its keep. In fact, every word needs to earn its keep regardless of the number of pages you write.

A Kiwi employer is only interested in only one question when he or she looks at your CV:

“Does this person have what it takes to do the job I’ve advertised?”

If your CV impresses them enough to offer you an interview, then they’ll ask themselves about how you’ll fit in the workplace socially, etc, but first things first:

Your CV must show an employer in the space of two or three pages that you’ve got the skills and experience to fill their vacancy.

2) Tell the employer your contact details at the beginning of the CV

Contact Format:

Full Name
Street name and number
Telephone number
email address

Only add additional details, such as gender, marital status, date of birth, and nationality if you are certain that they will work to your advantage. If in doubt, leave them out.

Career Objectives/Personal Statement

This is optional. You can include it in your CV or covering letter (see later). Let the employer know what you want to get out of a position. If this doesn’t align with an employer’s needs, remember that the recycle bin is just one mouse-click away.

3) Work experience

Tell the employer about your work experience that’s relevant to the position you’re applying for.

Look at the keywords in their job ad as a guide to the work experience you need to demonstrate, and use the following format to write about your experience.

Experience Format:

[Name of Employer] [start date – end date] [Job Title] [Key responsibilities] [Name of Employer] [start date – end date] [Job Title] [Key responsibilities]

…and so on.

4) Tell the employer about any relevant skills you have – this will include skills and training you have picked up while working
Match your experience and skills as closely as you can with those needed by the employer

If you can, tailor your CV to the job you’re applying for.

• If your job-specific skills are a perfect match for the job you’re applying for, you’ll want to emphasise these skills.

• If you have a lot of skills, but only some are relevant to the job, make sure your key skills aren’t lost in a list of stuff that the employer isn’t really going to be interested in.

• If your job-specific skills are less well matched to the job, you may want to place heavier emphasis on your key transferable skills.

Skills and Abilities Format:

[Key Skill 1] [example 1 of how you have used this skill] [example 2 of how you have used this skill] [example 3 of how you have used this skill] [Key Skill 2] [example of how you have used this skill] [Key Skill 3] [example 1 of how you have used this skill] [example 2 of how you have used this skill]

…and so on.

5) Professional development and educational qualifications

Tell the employer about your professional development and educational qualifications. If you’re in your thirties, or older, don’t bother with your high school qualifications.

List your relevant qualifications, starting with the most recent.

Qualifications Format:

[Training Organisation] [start date – end date] [Location] [Qualification achieved] [Training Organisation] [start date – end date] [Location] [Qualification achieved]

… and so on.

6) Outside interests

Outside interests are an optional extra. If you have outside interests that are relevant to your application – i.e. they show something positive about you – include them. Keep it short – a couple of brief sentences is enough.

7) Referees

Let the employer know that you have referees available to tell them what a great person you are!

At least one referee will need to be an employer. Make sure you get people’s agreement before you use them as referees.

Referees Format:

[Referees can be supplied on request.]
8) Be positive

You may have referees lurking in the background who are willing to shower you with praise, but they’ll only get the chance to do this if someone seriously considers offering you a job.

And that’s a long way off. At this stage, your only goal is to get a job interview.

Look over your CV again. Have you been positive enough? Have you shown the employer what a strong candidate you are for the job?

Your chances of success are boosted a thousand percent if you’re positive about yourself.

Make sure you’ve TOLD employers about your successes, with examples.

Make sure you’ve TOLD them what you’re good at, with examples.

If you don’t do these things in your CV, chances are that nobody else will ever get the opportunity to.

9) Ensure your spelling and grammar are perfect
another rejection
Get a capable person to check your spelling and grammar.

Seriously, you would be shocked if you knew just how many job applicants are rejected for bad spelling or grammar. The job you’re applying for may not need a grammar guru, but that’s not the point!

The point is, that when an employer reads a CV that’s full of obvious spelling and grammatical errors, they see a would-be employee who thinks the job is so unimportant that he or she can’t even be bothered to prepare a CV with any care. Make sure that you’re NOT that person.

You’ll almost certainly be using a word processor to write your CV. If possible, set the language to New Zealand English; failing that, Australian English, or British English are your safest bets – there’s little difference between any of these options.

Having completed a small, but perfectly formed CV to your own satisfaction, let someone else check it for errors.

They should also check for anything you’ve written that’s not expressed clearly or well. You might know what you’re trying to say, but sometimes other people can be left in doubt. Second and third opinions can be a godsend to get the rough edges smoothed off your CV before you send it off.

10) Write a cover letter

Enclose a cover letter with your CV. It should be no more than one page long.

This is a personal letter, it’s your first contact with the employer, and it’s very important that you make a good impression. Everything in point 9 about grammar and spelling is equally applicable to your cover letter.

A) Introduce yourself

Tell the employer who you are, and that you’re applying for [specify the job] that you saw in [specify where you saw the job advertised – or how you heard about it – with a reference number if one’s available].

Or tell them that you’re writing in the hope that they have a suitable opening. (This sometimes works, but not often.)

If you have the right to live and work in New Zealand, let the employer know. (You don’t need to do this if you’re a Kiwi, who clearly has a New Zealand background.)

B) Sell yourself

• Show the employer how your experience and skills are closely aligned with those described in the advertised job.

• The best way of impressing an employer is to show them that you’re focussed on their needs, not your own.

• Show them what you can bring to their organisation, with brief examples of your achievements.

• Remember, you need to give the employer compelling reasons to consider you for the job.

C) Let the employer know you care about them

Okay, this might not always (or even sometimes) be possible, but at least show the employer that they’re not getting the same old spiel you’re giving everyone else. Demonstrate clearly that you’ve done some homework and that you know something about them – preferably something positive!

D) Roger, and out

Thank the person for their time reading your cover letter, and sign it.

Best Regards, or Warm Regards,

[Your Signature]

If you’re emailing the covering letter, there’s no need to sign your name. Type it.

Also, if you’re using email, your cover letter and CV should be within one single document. The cover letter will be page 1 of the document.

And that’s it. If you have any questions or comments, just type them in the box below.

We wish you the best possible luck in landing that job in New Zealand!

One thought on “The complete guide: 10 things you MUST do when writing a New Zealand CV/Resume”

  1. Considering working in New Zealand. Have a lot of experience in manufacturing / distribution / service quality assurance. Worked in the USA as a Quality Engineer, Supervisor, and Manager. If there was a way to work for at least 6 months or longer on contract with the possibility of becoming permanent, I may consider relocating to New Zealand. Just a little nervous due to the distance from the USA and taking the “Nestea Plunge”….as they say in the states.

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