February 04, 2012

Creating a CV: An Additional Guide

Hello Everyone,

Yesterday I replied several emails directing them to the illustrations I did (Illustration: Creating a More Effective CV (Part 1) and Illustration: Creating a More Effective CV (Part 2)) and advised to do some initial work on CVs then resend to me for review. I must commend those that have already gotten back to me.

Today I've decided to do an additional guide on creating a CV.

Why do you need a CV?
Simply to show you abilities, skills and aspirations to a recruiter or potential employer. I have highlighted "aspiration" because it is also important to create your CV in a manner that shows a recruiter the direction of your career.  It helps answer the question - "Why do you want this job?" and it says to a recruiter "I am suitable for this job".

Also, we all know a common interview question is "Where do you see your self in 5 years time?". I believe your CV is effective if it can answer this question; let your CV speak to recruiters. The easiest way to achieve this is to include your most recent and current trainings and professional qualifications. This is another reason why you should list items on your CV starting with the most recent/current.

You may need to adjust your CV from time to time before making certain applications. For instance, as I'm in the accounting profession, the CV I will submit for a position as an Internal Auditor will differ from what I will submit for a role as a Management Accountant. The aim is to ensure you portray the right/core skill and abilities for that particular application/position.

What should you include on your CV?
Luckily, there are NO fixed set of rules for CV content (my opinion). It is not science. You need to simply ensure that you effectively reveal, portray or "show off" your skills.

While doing this ensure your CV complies with the CLARITY characteristic. Having a CV that lacks clarity is equivalent to the act of pouring your drink into a leaking cup. It amounts to waste, little or no impact.

As I said earlier, the purpose of creating you CV is to show off your skills, interests and aspirations to a recruiter. You can achieve this by including the following information on your CV;

- - Your Name
- - Career Objective/Personal Profile (I'm not a fan of this section but it's popular)
- - Personal Information
- - Education and Qualifications (I personally don't like terms like "Education History" or "Educational  Qualifications" - there is something odd about that word "Educational". Also I don't like to see Education as a Historical thing hence my dislike for "Education History")
- - Professional Memberships and Certifications (can also be Professional Qualifications)
- - Work Experience (again, I am not a fan of "Work History" I prefer to see what I've done in the past as an "Experience" and not just "History")
- - Computer/IT Skills (I wish I could find a better phrase for the section listing IT competence. I don't like the phrase "Computer Skill"
- - Publications
- - Reference

Please don't get stuck on terminology for these sections. Simply, ensure that you use terms that are understandable.

I highlighted the word 'information' above for a reason which I will explain now. When you are creating a CV, it is important you do not get so attached to templates. When you focus on the use of templates, you'll end up including sections/information that are not relevant to your OWN CV.

I advise you focus on the information / content of your CV. Create your CV with an aim of portraying your OWN skills and abilities in the best possible manner.

Your CV must NOT contain all the sections I have listed above. Select the ones that are relevant to the information you wish to convey to a recruiter.

Don't restrict yourself to rules and templates.

Are there certain things that you should avoid while creating your CV?
Yes. Not exactly rules but they help with presentation of your CV.

1. Avoid the use of several contact numbers.
Yesterday I reviewed a CV with 4 (FOUR) contact numbers and 2 email addresses. There was an Airtel, MTN, Glo and Visafone line AND 2 yahoo email addresses! It wasn't a good look.
I advise you simply list 1 (one) number and 1 (email address). It looks more professional, neater and helps when you track your applications.

2. Avoid including your passport photo on your CV (unless a recruiter asks) I don't see what exactly it adds to your CV. I usually get put off by recruitment ads that request for pictures. I'm not applying for a model gig. This point also goes with point 3 below.

3. Use your TRUE age or exclude listing your age on your CV altogether. Now, I was reviewing another CV yesterday and the owner had included a passport photograph and listed date of birth 1988 - perhaps it was a typo or I'm just not good at guessing ages, BUT the owner of this CV looked like he/she was born in 1975. I just couldn't get this out of my head and somehow I haven't finished that review. I'll assume he/she had changed date of birth for confidentiality, perhaps that will give me the patience to review it.
Please try not to appear dishonest in your applications. It may cause you to be disqualified. It is quite simple to spot irregularities on a CV.
I know the false age "official age" thing is quite common here and honestly I'm not prepared to go into that now. However, I encourage you to be honest.

4. You really don't need to list your "first school leaving certificate" on your CV. In my opinion, it doesn't add much (infact anything). Free up that space on your CV for more important things like your professional qualifications. I am yet to see a recruiter that has specifically asked for it.

5. If you can, please avoid listing the full addresses of the places of work listed under the "Work Experience" section. It actually clusters everything up on your CV. You can simply put the town and/or state.
Do: ABC Plc, Utako, Abuja
Don't: ABC Plc, Head office, No 12 market road, opposite MFN, Utako, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria


7. Finally, for confidentiality purposes, please please please don't put the full contact details of your referees. I have seen all sorts of contacts during these 3 months of doing CV review. Please respect the confidentiality of your referee. Most of you use very "important people" as your referees; I don't think it is the best idea to send their contacts all over the place. Referencing commences much later during a recruitment exercise. I advise you to only state it when a recruiter requests.
Do: Reference
Available on Request

That said, I encourage you to do the following. . . .
1. Ensure your CV has a pattern
          - Even margins
          - Single font style through out the document
          - Even spacing between sections

2. List your duties under stated work experiences. Only use summaries when you have worked for several organisations and perhaps some of the experiences are now irrelevant to your current application.

3. List items starting with the most recent ones (however, you may do otherwise if work experience that is relevant to position applied for isn't most recent; you may choose to bring that work experience to the top) For instance, I had an accounting job while at university but worked as a customer service officer at a bank during NYSC. After service, I still maintained my accounting work experience at the top because I was applying for accounting job and not a customer service job after NYSC.

4. When you list your duties/responsibilities. Use short phrases and avoid blabbing. Keep it simple
Do: Monthly stock record update
Don't: Carrying out the stock record update of the organisation every month. This is to ensure that the company has enough stock to meet customer requirements. Also blah blah blah etc

Just to state that if I have used your CV for an illustration or used the content of your CV to explain an example, the intention is not to insult you. It is just to make an explanation clearer

I advise you to do some work on your CV before sending it in for review (Henceforth, if it is obvious that you have not done any work to improve the content of you CV, I will nicely reply you with a link to the illustration).

Happy weekend


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