Top CV advice

The role a CV plays when trying to secure a job cannot be over-emphasized. If done correctly, you can be called for an interview in no time but if taken carelessly, you are likely to face rejection. All CV’s follow a similar structure but each CV is unique as every job out there is different, so you have to make sure your CV reflects the right skill set for the position you wish to apply. But remember your CV is to get you the interview or meeting, NOT the job itself.

This article would help you in writing a great CV so as to land your dream job.

What is a CV

CV is an abbreviation for curriculum vitae. It is a document showcasing your scholarly and personal achievements with the sole aim of securing a job. In other words, it is a document that markets you to your employer. Great care has to be taken when preparing a CV because it gives your prospective employer a first impression about you and if not done properly could easily be your last.

In addition to your CV, employers may also request for a cover letter and a completed application form.

Top tips Be concise

As stated earlier, CV’s are supposed to be tailored to the needs of the job nevertheless there are sections that cannot be missed on a CV.

These are some necessary information that must be included in your CV

1- Name, professional title and contact details

The top of the page of your CV should contain your name, professional title and contact details. Some people make the mistake of titling their CV as ‘curriculum vitae’ or ‘CV’ which is erroneous to say the least. Your name should be the title instead.

When it comes to your contact details, your email and phone number(s) are very important. Your address does not have to be given in full as it was done in the past, your town and county would suffice.

A link to your LinkedIn profile would also be a good addition but only if it is up to date.

2. Personal Profile

It is also known as career objective or professional profile. This is an important section of your CV as it gives your prospective employer a summary of who you are and what you are bringing to the table in one paragraph.

Your profile should be adjusted to fit the role you wish to apply for and specific qualities needed for the job should be highlighted in your profile. Your profile should answer questions like who are you, what are you offering to the company and your career goals. It should be short, and very catchy.

3. Education and Qualification

Your education section should be listed in reverse chronological order. It should start with your most recent academic qualification or achievement. It must include the institutions you attended with the corresponding dates and grades achieved.

If you have a degree, you can highlight some of your relevant assignments or projects underneath.

For professionals that have gone far in their careers, or have many certificates in their repertoire, your qualifications can be presented in this format:
Qualification, grade - Institution - Year

4. Experience and Employment history

You get to showcase your past work experiences in this section. Like your education section, your experience and employment history section should be listed in reverse chronological order as your last job is the most important to the employer.

When listing your roles in your previous employment, ensure you state your job title, the employer, the dates you worked there and a line that gives a summary of what the job entailed. Then bullet point your responsibilities, achievements and skills acquired so as to show the impact you made there and what you have to offer. If your list is a long one, you don’t have to go into details of old jobs or roles that are not in sync with the job you are currently applying for. Roles held 10 years or more can be scrapped out.

5. Additional Sections

Since it is most likely to have competition when applying for a job, it is important for your CV to stand out among others. Here are some additional sections that could further boost your CV.

Key skills; If you have some abilities you would want the employer to be aware of immediately, you can place a key skills section under your personal profile. It should be short and precise, not more than five skills.

Hobbies; If you still feel like your CV is not potent enough, you can add a hobby section at the end of the CV. A hobby section can show how well you fit into a company. For example, if the job requires you to move from one pace to another, then why not include traveling as one of your hobbies. Do not put hobbies that are irrelevant to the job. Loo for something that makes you stand out

References; Like including an address on your CV, adding your referees to the end of your CV is no longer mandatory. You can add a line that reads ‘references available on request’, but if you don’t have room, it’s acceptable to remove it altogether.

5. Formatting your CV

If you are clueless on how to format your CV, downloading a CV template could help make your work a whole lot easier. It should be noted that formatting your document is as important as the content.

Here are some formatting tips to keep in mind:

Length: There is not one fixed length for a CV as it can vary from one individual to the next but one to three pages should be enough even for a professional.

Headings: All headings must be in bold font so they can be easily captured by the employer.

Font type: Since most CV’s these days are submitted with a soft copy, it is important that your document is legible enough for the employer. Use fonts that are professional and easy to read. A different font can be used for your headings but they must also be legible enough.

Font size and page margins: The body of your CV should be between 10- and 12-point font, and your headings between 14 and 18 points. Keep your page margins around 2.5cm, but never reduce them to less than 1.27cm or your CV will appear cluttered and hard to read. White space ensures clarity and professionalism.

Proofreading: It is important to crosscheck your CV for typos, spelling and grammatical errors as they can spoil the beauty of a CV. You can give it to a professional to proofread for you or you can make use of applications like Grammarly to ensure that your CV is in perfect condition.

It is also important to note that since your CV would most likely be submitted to an email, it should be saved in pdf format so as to make it easy for recruiters to access on any device. It also helps to make sure that your formatting is unchanged so the employer gets to see it as you intended.

Your CV is your opportunity to make a good first impression so its importance should not be undermined. Get it right and you would be on the right track to getting a good job.

Using bullet points

Aim to create powerful bullet points, with each bullet focused on a single idea. Consider applying the ‘CAR’ mnemonic

Context: the organisation name, your job title and dates is often sufficient.

Action Words that demonstrate you took responsibility are useful for starting the bullet point, to highlight skills used – e.g. analysed, created, recommended, managed or led.

Results can often be linked within an individual bullet point.

What you don’t need to include

Remember that the CV is to get you the meeting or interview only, so don’t feel you have to include every last detail – leave them wanting to learn more about you. Specific things to leave out include:

  • Referees – this takes up space, they’ll assume you have them, there are probably other opportunities to record these details

  • Basic IT skills: these days everyone can use the internet, word processing, spreadsheets etc to a competent level – but do include any super-advanced qualifications in MS Office and of course any specialist software like C++, SPSS etc

  • Areas of potential, personal contention, e.g. religious beliefs, political affiliation (though if you’ve worked for a political organisation this will obviously be mentioned under work experience)

  • Soft interests such as ‘socialising with friends, cooking, reading, cinema’.