Friday, March 21, 2014

How To Write A Curriculum Vitae (CV) That Gets Jobs

A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is an important document. 

 It should be prepared properly with an expert knowledge and every job seeker and applicant must learn to prepare one professionally, because it tells prospective employers about your ability, education, experience, interests and attitudes etc.


Employers want to know you better.  

 They want to know what you can do and how they can help you in case of inefficiencies in some skills, so that they can offer you a job.  

It is therefore advisable to keep employers in mind when preparing your documents.


Your CV is your weapon to use to win yourself a job and face the challenges of employers.  


It is important to know your CV in a detailed manner and be able to defend it during Interviews. 

 Prospective employers may ask you detailed questions about things you have listed on your CV.

Presenting your CV in a good format makes a difference.   

This often determines whether you will get a job or not.  It also tells the employer areas you will need training in before you are allowed to touch their tools.





The reason many people do not get as far as a job interview is because of a poor letter of application or a carelessly written CV.  

 They also need to know how to conduct themselves during the interview.


Writing a CV well, writing a winning cover letter, and good interview techniques are the main weapons every job seeker should be equipped with before leaving an institution of learning.  

With these three things one has an excellent chance to get a job. 

We can summarize the qualities of a good C.V in three words:


Brevity         Simplicity         Clarity     


The quality of your CV wins you a job. It is therefore important to make it brief, easy and readable, well written and arranged in a comprehensive manner.


Some curriculum vitae have a paragraph at the beginning.  It summarizes how one views himself or herself. 

 For example:  “I am a dedicated lawyer who works equally well as part of a team or by using my independent initiative.   

 My strengths include:  attention to detail, results driven, creative thinking, and effective organization skills.”


The above summarizing paragraph should be written with lots of care. 

This is because you want your prospective employer to appreciate your skills and yet not think you are a proud and boastful, or someone who exaggerates their abilities.


The CV should contain a lot of information relevant to a job application. 

It should give a prospective employer a comprehensive look at the skills of the applicant.

Update your CV every time you apply for a job, keeping in mind the required skills stated in the job advertised.


The prospective employer should see what he wants in your CV.  It should not be an overly colorful 

presentation that you are not able to substantiate and defend if you are offered a job.


There is no permanently prepared CV.  

 Your document should be updated according to the requirement of each new job applied for, newly achieved status, title and certification or roles you have gained so far. 

 I personally recommend job seekers to learn how to prepare their own CV.  

 Hire a professional to teach you how to prepare one so that you are able to update it every time you apply for a job.  

 If it is too expensive to hire a professional to update your CV every time you apply for a new job, learn to prepare your own.  

A CV is your personal selling document for a job and therefore you must to learn how to produce one.


Applying for a job means you prepare and submit a standard CV and a letter of application.  Never send a CV alone. 

The letter of application, or cover letter, should be extracted from the content of the curriculum vitae.


The CV should be comprehensive and should not be too short. 

 The maximum length would be less than three pages.  

Remember readers of your CV are very busy people.  

They need to grasp the content of your CV as quickly as possible. 

Bear in mind that you are not the only job seeker; you need to make your CV outstanding.


Every Job seeker should remember the following creed:  “When others are seated, remain standing. When others are standing, become outstanding.  

When all are outstanding, become the measure of standards.”   

This is the only way one can survive the competitive world we live in.  Your CV should keep the reader involved with you in order to qualify you for the next stage, which is the Interview. 

 I will give details on how to do an interview later on in this book.


 The Main Sections of the Curriculum Vitae


  Personal Data


The practice of writing a standard CV begins with personal data. 

In our multi-cultural society and with dialect differences it is important to research and understand the background of an employer, so that you avoid culture-shock when presenting your job application.


Family name and first name may be presented differently.  

In some nationalities all job communications begin with the family name.  Some write the name in capital letters and others underline it.

 Therefore the nationality of the job seeker is significant. 

The job may be for nationals only or for a specific nationality. 

The reasons may differ from diplomatic relations, standards of education and level of languages, to a working permit to ascertain nationalities.


Another thing that is a must is the address.  A contact address is a channel of communication between you as an applicant and your prospective employer.  

 It is therefore crucial to provide your physical address, email address, home telephone number, mobile phone number, work telephone and, if applicable, fax address. 

These must to be clearly and correctly stated in the CV.


Details of your age, wife, husband, marital status, children and sex orientation are optional. 

You can provide these if the prospective employer requires or if it is one of the requirements in the job advertisement.

 For example, if the employer requires someone 35 years of age and you are 33 years and you possess all other qualifications, then there is no need to provide your age. 

 It is better to risk not telling your age until the interview because the employer may decide to eliminate you because of your age.   

You have a good chance of impressing them during the interview rather than being blocked right away.  If you are within the age bracket required by employer then state your age bracket.


The reason why age is not important to state in your CV is that an employer may be your age or an older person who prefers working with either people of their age, older or younger than them.  

 This may discriminate you during their sorting of the applicants, which is not good. 


It is better that your skills speak for you instead of your marital status, age, religion or race.  

It is better to add your ‘date of birth’ if possible, rather than to write out your age.


It is advisable to mention your sex if it is not obvious from your name.  

For example, girls sometimes use their father’s names when they first register in national exams as their surname or family name.  


State your nationality and passport/ID number if appropriate.

Some jobs require married employees.  It is then important for you to state your marital status.   

Mention your marital status if needed; what the employer state in the job advertisement is necessary and so provide it.  

 It is better if the employer gets all he or she needs in your CV than having to wait to question you on the interview day.  

Employers should get all answers from your CV which is the only way an employer knows you have really paid attention to the details.


 Education and Qualifications


This part should be arranged in a chronological order starting with recently achieved qualifications.  Begin with the highest level of education acquired.  For example: Doctorate, Masters, Bachelors, Diploma, A-level and then 0-level.


College and courses attended as a mature student should be included in a chronological order. 

Qualifications obtained at evening classes, part time studies and correspondence courses should be included as it makes you an outstanding candidate for the position applied for.  

These qualifications add credit to your CV.


If you are applying for a job immediately after high school or college without any work experience, it is better to include grades achieved at each level. 

Once you have been working for a while, sometimes it is sufficient enough to just list the qualifications obtained since the age of 13.  

 This list reduces as you go up the ladder to a high level of education.  If you are a high school diploma holder, have a primary certificate or other levels worthy a mention; be sure to add them in your list. 
 
 If you have never had work experience then even your grades earned should be shown.  PHD and Master’s Degree holders should list up to high school qualification, the high school diploma in some countries, and A-Level courses in others.


Clarity and neatness is required for easy readability and to inform the prospective employer that you are an organized person and that given a job you will deliver.

Most employers are interested in positions held during high school years, clubs and responsibility awards won, sports and work experience.  Some organizations even have their own football clubs. 

You will have better chance of getting employed if you can offer a bright football expertise to their clubs.


Employers are also keen to assess projects you previously initiated and their results, whether the project is still alive or has been abandoned and why. 

They also will seek to know some of your published books, articles papers and research. 

 All these should be stated briefly under the section called “other qualifications”.


Current Employment and Work Experience


The best practice is to put the most recent employment at the beginning. 

This is to help the reader to know what you are doing at present. The reader will grow with interest wanting to know what you were doing before that. 

 This practice enables the reader to skim through without reading detailed data but gain up-to-date information when the CV is long. 

 It is important to state information that is quickly identified at first sight.  Work experience should be brief and accurately stated.


It is important to state the name of the organization, position held and the dates. This takes the readers five seconds to comprehend.  

Every position held will then follow with a brief summary of duties and responsibilities.


Professional Associations/ Memberships


Being a member of a professional association tells the employer that you are interested in whatever you do.  

These associations update members about new trends and developments in the field. 

They urge members to attend conferences; some even discipline and professionally certify their members. 

 For example:  The law society of  Ghana withdraws a practicing license if one does not adhere to their code of ethics.

 Therefore having a practicing license from such body gives the employer trust and confidence in you and knowledge that you are a responsible professional.


The employer can also track your records from your professional association without asking you for them.

  Employers trust applicants who belong to a professional organization and such applicants have higher chances of getting employed.


Summary of Skills


Some writers skip this section or include it in “other qualifications” sections. 

 In some CVs it is termed as ‘qualification number two’, but it is good to have this section just after the “professional memberships” and before “interests” is listed.
  
Examples of skills employers look for are:

  • Excellent communication
  • Good computing skills
  • Exceptional reporting skills
  • Camera and photography knowledge
  • Effective organizational ability
  • Results driven
  • Attention to detail

These skills are usually stated as required in the job advertisement. It is advisable to briefly state them in the CV and also in the cover letter.  

Applicants should provide skills he or she is able to prove if required to by the employer.   

For example:  just stating “computing skills” or “able to find computer documents and files” and then the employer finds that you cannot even turn on the computer will be embarrassing, and the employer might conclude that you lied.


Personal Interests


You have to state one or two of your personal interests such as hobbies or sports.  

Avoid listing all your interests and hobbies because the employer may then wonder when you actually have time to work.  Interests, hobbies, and sports tell an employer more about you.  

 Listing these helps to demonstrate your organization skills and tells whether you are a team player or not.   

If you are the treasurer of a local club, member of a charity organization, school prefect or head girl or head boy, chairman of the wildlife club, a Girl Guide or scout, or have other responsibilities, is an indication that you are a responsible and industrious person.


  References


Choose references who know you well.  Put their names, physical address, email address, and telephone number.  List each reference separately at the end of your CV.

It is advisable to ask the references for their permission before you write down their names.

Three references are required: one educational, one professional and one personal.

 The references should know you well and on a personal level. 

  Each of the three should be persons of outstanding authority in a company, an institution, or your community or society.  

Some organizations prefer religious leaders as Pastors, Imams, or Bishops, etc. 

The reference should have known you for at least two years.

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