Phebean Amusan

How Competitive Is Your CV?

In today’s ever-challenging business world, competition for talent is intensifying, the ever-expanding business environment is ripe with job opportunities but there are fewer qualified applicants available.

This dearth of qualified talents makes it more difficult for organizations to effectively attract and hire quality candidates, therefore, a great responsibility is placed on hiring managers/ recruiters to devise several tools in selecting and hiring best and ‘culturally fit’ talents.

Selection of quality candidates has now become fierce!! CV/Résumés have come under intense scrutiny.

Some CVs pass the 30 secs review while some are tossed in the bin- It’s the survival of the fittest!

Always remember that…..                                      

 ‘it is not only how your résumé looks by itself; it is how it looks in comparison to other résumés’

-Professional Association of Résumé Writer and Career Coaches (PARW/CC)

How then do you make your CV competitive ………?

When it comes to CV/Résumé Writing, there are different and varying beliefs and practice. Almost everyone has an opinion on ‘How and How Not’ to write a CV.

There have been instances of passionate debate among professionals on the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ of CV Writing and these debates are usually won by people with superior arguments.

Whatever the argument is, the general belief is that a well written and competitive CV should showcase candidate’s skills and potentials in an easy-to-read, logical and crisp format.

As a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and a member of Professional Association of Résumé Writers/Career Coaches (PARW/CC) our stand is ……

‘…. a guiding principle of the résumé writing profession is that there are no hard and fast rules! The one exception is that all documents should be error free. There is not one format, one layout, one strategy that everyone wants to the exclusion of all others’- PARW/CC

Exception: If the hiring company stipulates the exact format required for the CV/ RÉSUMÉ.

In order to create a compelling, captivating and competitive CV, candidates should focus on CV Contents and Mechanism.

CV CONTENTS

Personal Details- This should contain information such as; Full Name or Title /Designation (if applicable), Language Proficiency (if multi-lingual), LinkedIn URL,

However, organizations that are keen on Diversity & Inclusion could find some details irrelevant or optional, such as; Gender, Religion, Age, Marital Status, Ethnic Group, Language, Nationality.

The rule of the game is to provide information that potential employer requires.

Education/Qualification: Include Dates, Name of Institution, Qualifications, Field of Study, Grades (from 3.5 GPA) Awards and Honors.

Training: List relevant trainings both online and classroom based.

Certification: Include Certification Name, Certification Authority, Dates.

Membership/Affiliation: Include Organization Name, Position or Membership Status and Date of joining.

Work Experience- This should contain details such as;

Name of Employer, Short description of company, locations (Town, City and Country), Job Title, Start-End dates on each role/company.

Include short description of your employer if the company is not well-known or if product or service offering cannot be easily inferred from the company name.

Provide brief description of job responsibilities as well as significant, measurable and relevant accomplishments on each job.

Skills- It could be Soft skill/ Computer Skill /Technical Skills. Include Job related or role specific skills that you have competence in.

#Details of references should not be listed on the CV unless it is specifically required. References take up space and it’s totally unnecessary. If you so wish, although not compulsory, you can always indicate that ‘referees will be provided on request’.

CV MECHANISM

Font Style/Size: You can play with fonts size so far it follows same pattern and it’s consistent. Avoid using varying font style in one document!

Some CVs will have Verdana, Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial and Garamond fonts all in one document. This should be avoided. It makes the CV looks like a tOGGLE cASE and unappealing to readers.

Upper Case or CAPs (Capital Letter): I have seen some CVs all in CAPS. Not just the section title but the entire CV!

As much as writing in caps shows emphasis, it can as well put the reader off if it is overused. An all-CAPs document has all texts screaming for attention at the same time.

Punctuation: Avoid unnecessary and incorrect use of punctuation. Do not forget to use (.) full stop to indicate the end of a sentence.

Margin/Formatting: 

  • Use appropriate margin that will give the document enough white space, focus should be on appropriate mix of white space and words.
  • Always ensure that your CV is justified or well aligned. According to MS Word-

‘Justify (Ctrl+J) -Distribute your text evenly between the margins. Justified text give your document clean and crisp edges so it looks more polished’.

  • If CV is more than 1 page, insert your name/contact details as foot note or header on the extra pages.

Spelling/Grammatical Errors: A CV full of spelling and grammatical errors shows chaos and could automatically lead to it being dumped in a ‘No’ pile.

Proofreading: Do not be in a hurry to send your CV without proofreading. It is advisable to always check for spellings and grammatical errors or incomplete information. You don’t want to give out an impression of sloppiness.

Acronyms/Industry Jargons: Limit the use of industry jargons even if they are common industry lingo. Jargon is the language, specialized terms or technical terminology used by certain profession or academic field. These words could be meaningless to others outside the specific field.

In order to avoid the CV looking gibberish to HR managers (who usually make first contact with applicant’s CV), the use of lingos should be minimized.

Likewise, if you must use acronyms then indicate the full meaning in parenthesis. More often than not, acronyms could have shared meaning across different sectors or industries. We wouldn’t want to leave the hiring manager confused.

Conclusion

Candidate can use any strategy or format in presenting his/her CV but should not substitute great and relevant content for graphically designed CV. You only have 30secs to impress the recruiter.

Number of pages, design and formatting is inconsequential if the content of your CV cannot effectively market showcase your skills and potentials.

Remember to always stick to application instruction, job requirement and industry/country-specific recruitment guidelines when writing your CV.

A competitive CV~~~

~has great and relevant contents

~is error-free and well-presented

~is reader-friendly

~will effectively showcase applicant’s skills and potentials

~is ‘fit for purpose’ – meets the job requirements

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