Executive Insights

This successful SA exec got his big break with a funny CV - here's how you can make yours stand out

Business Insider SA

Khaya Dlanga, rain mobile, Marketing manager
Marketing maven, Khaya Dlanga knew that his lack of qualification would be a hurdle to his dreams if he didn't take the opportunity to make his skills stand out over his shortcomings. Instagram
  • Khaya Dlanga had to drop out of advertising school due to financial constraints.
  • He struggled to find a job - until he took a different tack with his CV.
  • A more humorous approach landed him a position, which was the start of an impressive career at Coca-Cola, Heineken and now rain mobile.
  • A careers expert gives advice on how to set your CV apart.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider SA.

Khaya Dlanga is one of the best-known marketing personalities in SA - thanks to the key positions he held at Coca-Cola and Heineken, among others. Most recently, he was appointed as marketing head at rain mobile

But as a young aspiring copywriter, who dropped out of advertising school due to financial constraints, he struggled to get a job in advertising. He finally caught the attention of the right agency, after taking a different tack.

In a crisp and funny way, the young Dlanga upended racial stereotypes by stating where he lives ("in Pinelands, not Gugulethu"), his ability to swim, and the fact that he's not a Cosatu member in his CV. 

"Some of my best friends are white," Dlanga said in his CV. 

When asked to list his experience, he wrote:

"I used to write slogans on township walls like 'Free Mandela' and 'One man, one vote',"

"I didn't have a qualification and wanted a job at a highly awarded advertising agency," he tells Business Insider South Africa. "My CV was to show that I can be creative and funny, which is what they wanted."

It worked and secured him his first step on a steep career ladder. 

Because recruitment agencies get flooded with CVs that all end up looking the same, Dlanga advises: "Always find a way to demonstrate  your capabilities without just talking about them. I am a firm believer of showing others what you can do".

How you choose to jazz up your CV depends on the industry you're going into, though - but this does not mean it needs to be bland.

Dlanga also urges new graduates to take advantage of technology and upskill themselves - an added degree, diploma or self-taught skill goes a long way to showing the lengths you're willing to go to.

But never make the mistake of going overboard in your quest to stand out.

"Don't embellish your work experience, skills and accomplishments," warns Marcus Grove, brand manager at the online jobs platform CareerJunction. Never lie on your CV - it's unethical and will get you in hot water legally. Should your employer find out, it may well cost you your job.

Grove adds that while some industries and employers allow for greater risks to be taken, it is always important to be mindful of the industry and company you are applying to.

"Feel free, however, to make it look nice by using some simple fonts like Arial and Helvetica. Stick to two colours - primarily black and a secondary colour for headings and highlighting key words and only use photos when requested to do so."

Grove also gives these easy tips to help your CV stand out from the rest:

Keep it short

CV, Curriculum Vitae

Especially if is your first CV, two A4 pages will suffice, says Grove.

Treat your CV like a story

Graduations, graduates, jobseekers, unemployment

Like Dlanga's CV, create a narrative. "Merge your talents, strengths, weaknesses, characteristics and achievements into a narrative that will keep the reader interested."

Use positive terms and good English

Graduations, graduates, jobseekers, unemployment

Take the necessary time and care to ensure that everything is correct.

"If spelling and grammar is not one of your strong points or if you have any conditions which will affect your ability to produce a linguistically perfect CV, then call on family and friends to help.

Don't forget to spell-check your CV as well.

What is your unique selling point?

Photo: Netwerk24

"Ask yourself, what makes you different from the rest of the applicants and highlight what sets you apart."

Remember to edit your CV for every job application.

Khaya Dlanga, CV, Jobseeker, unemployment

If you have little to no work experience, bulk up your CV by giving more details about your studies.

Graduations, graduates, jobseekers, unemployment

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