Practical Steps in Drafting a Good Curriculum Vitae
As the popular saying goes, first impressions last the longest. In the professional world, when trying to find job, the burden of a first impression is commonly placed on your cover letter and curriculum vitae (CV). These documents go a long way in creating a professional picture of who you are in the eye of a potential employer and thus, if it is not drafted properly, could create a wrong impression of you in the mind of that potential employer.
A CV is a personal marketing document used to sell yourself to prospective employers. It should tell them about you, your professional history and your skills, abilities and achievements. Ultimately, it should highlight why you’re the best person for the job. It is worthy of note that usually, a CV shouldn’t go beyond one page, however, some other firms avail applicants the opportunity to go beyond one page. A good CV should also be one which can pass the 5-second test; it should be concise, clear, direct and readable, even under 5 seconds as most of those firms have a host of other applications to peruse.
In order to draft a stellar CV, the following is a guide of what should be included and what to steer clear of;
- Name, professional title and contact details. Contact details here should include your email address, phone number and home address. Avoid using unprofessional emails like “firstname.lastname@example.org”, email@example.com” and so on. It could put off any recruiter. Note also that a LinkedIn address could also be included if you are up to date on the platform. For this, it’s preferable to use a hyperlink in linking your name to your actual profile. That is, type your LinkedIn profile name, highlight and right click it then select “hyperlink” to add the direct link to your profile. This even shows your proficiency with Microsoft Word or whatever word processor you might be using.
- Personal profile. This should be a short paragraph highlighting who you are and what you are all about. Although some firms/companies don’t require this in your CV. This profile should be tailored to suite the position you are applying for. This paragraph should be written in the 3rd person, that is, ‘she is’ as opposed to ’i am’. It should answer the questions;
- Who are you?
- What can you offer to the firm/company?
- What are your career goals?
- Education. This is to be listed in reverse chronological order as the employer is usually most interested in the latest qualification you have acquired. Note however, that it is not necessary to go beyond the SSCE level, that is, lower educational. Some of the coursework taken may be listed out to show that you have knowledge in such areas. For undergraduate/post graduate studies, you can as well include your CGPA, particularly in the event it is a good one.
- Employment/Work Experience. This is said to be the most important part of a CV. Under this column and same as the above, one is expected to list in reverse chronological order, any previous positions or internships which would boost his/her credibility in the position applied for. While listing such positions, you may include some specific duties or roles played. Achievements during such positions may also be listed here. Adding key figures, numbers and percentiles makes this section of your CV even more attractive. Many students sometimes conclude they lack true work experience, but this isn’t usually the case. Work experience need not necessarily be an internship; it could even be some menial work you did for a relative, friend etc. However, in the event you want to add this kind of experiences, do ensure they are relevant for the position you are applying at.
- Volunteer Experience: As the name already implies, this is where you include those undertakings you handled, usually unpaid. This is not what distinguishes volunteer and work experience, as some roles you assume even without getting paid are still work experience. Volunteer experience could include visiting an orphanage, joining a committee in the execution of a program or project, etc. Key figures also project your achievements well enough. Arrangement should be made in a reverse chronological manner, starting with your most recent experience.
- Positions Held: One of the things recruiters look out for is one’s ability to work with little or minimal supervision. This section of your CV should contain relevant roles of leadership that have accrued to you. Arrangement should be made in a reverse chronological manner. Figures also won’t be a bad idea.
- Awards and Achievements: Here’s that section you outline your accolades! Certifications may as well be included in this section of the CV. Arrangement should be made in a reverse chronological manner.
- Skills. Here’s is where you market yourself by including relevant skills required to secure a position in question. However, be careful not to include skills which you cannot defend. For instance, saying that you are proficient with Microsoft Excel when in fact you are not. This is important as you may be required to defend your CV during subsequent interviews.
- Interests. Remember to keep things professional. Try to include interests which may further prove your suitability for the job.
- References. This part, a couple of persons make mistakes. The title of the section is “Reference” and those listed under it are “Referees.” This may be an academic reference or a professional one. Please note that it would be unethical to name someone as a reference without his or her consent. In the event you don’t have any at the relevant time of drafting the CV, you can simply include “Available upon request.”
There are a couple of other columns that could come up in your CV, but just the major parts have been highlighted above. In drafting your CV, always keep in mind the 5-second test. Also exclude any exaggerations or dishonest statements.
For further clarification, do share your questions in the comment section or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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