It is often the case, especially for young jobseekers, to wonder what makes a good CV. What really do hiring managers really want? Is there a certain standard that passes the review and earns you an interview?
Well, the popular opinion among coaches is that there is no standard structure that a CV must take. However, the problem with this opinion is that it could easily be misinterpreted to mean that any format is acceptable for a CV. That is wrong.
Conversely, CV writing may not have a standard structure, but there is a structure most appropriate for the vacancy you are applying for. With that in mind, let’s backtrack to the section where this CV guide should have begun.
What is a CV?
A CV is a detailed document that highlights your professional and academic history. It is short for the Latin term “curriculum vitae,” which means “course of life.” Because a CV is always an employer’s initial impression of your professional and academic credentials, it’s critical to format it in a way that best highlights your achievements and experience.
Your work experience, achievements and accolades, scholarships or grants you’ve received, coursework, research projects, and publications of your work are often included in CVs. While all of these may give the idea that the CV should be a thick document covering your life history, most hiring managers prefer that you condense your CV to carry only the information that qualifies you for the job.
The Ideal Length For A CV
The point of how long a CV should be has been the subject of much controversy. Some coaches say it should not exceed two or three pages. Others say it has to be a one-page document, and any subsequent pages have to be referenced attachments. I say the rule depends on your career achievements till date and how well you can summarise it into a document. Sit back, think about the opportunity you are applying for, and ask yourself what the hiring managers want. You will often find what they want in the job advert and description, and this should give you a clue as to what to include or exclude from your CV.
Don’t get me wrong. It will help if you know why most coaches want you to make your CV as short as possible. The logic is that tons of candidates apply for the same job, and the attention span of most hiring managers is only patient enough for those CVs that could give them what they want within the shortest possible time. To strike a balance, add only what is necessary and write every sentence in the most concise way possible. Mainly if you are a mid-level or senior job applicant, it’s not uncommon to have a considerably bulkier CV than an entry-level applicant.
Two Most Popular CV Formats
Earlier in the introduction, I mentioned that there is a CV format most appropriate for any job you’re applying for. The two kinds of CV formats are:
- The chronological format: This format best suits job seekers who have worked in the same business for many years, applicants who want to show off an impressive career advancement, and anyone looking for an executive-level post. The chronological format is for individuals with a long work history.
- The functional format: This format is best for applicants with little or no work experience, job seekers who wish to highlight their talents and education, and those with many gaps in their employment history.
Writing a CV could be a time-consuming and complex task. However, to land your dream job, you must come up with impeccable documents that show you at your best. In each of the formats above, the intention is to present yourself as what the recruiter wants. But how do you know what the recruiter wants? Check out the CV sample below to give you some ideas on deciphering the qualities the hiring managers need from candidates applying for their advertised jobs.
CV Sample Sections
This CV contains the basic sections every CV should have. Like I said earlier, these sections do not represent a rigid structure you must follow. Feel free to add other sections that may be relevant for a different job.
- Personal Information
This section of the CV should carry personal details like your name, address, contact information, and a profile statement that introduces you. The profile statement is an optional part of a CV. However, it has the advantage of selling you the way you want the hiring manager to conceive you when well written. The common practice in CV writing is to have your name as the first thing at the top of the page.
Your contact information should come right after your name and CV headline – the job title you want to be known for. Ensure to have your your phone number and email in this section. You’ll be amazed how many people would include their exact home address, which i advice you don’t include and not have the information that would get them to the next stage of the hiring process. Also, note that there are no rigid rules to CV formatting; only what works. Focus on functionality and visibility.
- Education And Qualifications
This section should contain your educational history in reverse order. Since the purpose of the CV is to project you as a competent person for the job, it is better to start the list with your university degree and end with your elementary education, which may not be necessary. You will notice that in our sample CV, the applicant only mentioned his university education and qualification. Except you have outstanding grades, there’s usually no need to include them on the CV.
- Work Experience
This section offers you the space to talk about the industry experiences outside your education. If you do not have any experience yet, you can list any volunteering works relevant to the job that you have carried out. You should also include relevant internship programs you have embarked on.
Note that it’s important to include achievements you were mostly responsible for and not team targets. Always use metrics, numbers to highlight your impact in the bullet points.
- Interests And Achievements
This section helps to showcase other interests, hobbies, and achievements you have outside the job. Most applicants often treat this section of the CV as a less important part. However, if you have very little industry work experience and your educational background doesn’t fit the profile of candidates that the company you’re apply to hires, i’d say it’s okay to have this section, otherwise it would add very little value to your CV.
Most of the times, Nigerian HR managers don’t spend less than 10 seconds scanning through your CV. You should only include content that gets them to properly read your CV and not throw it down the trash.
In this section, you have the space to list the skills you have that may be relevant for the job. In our CV sample, the applicant’s skills are the same skills that every journalist in the field would find indispensable. Hiring managers don’t want something they will have to spend a long time training. So, hiring managers look for the soft skills that will complement your primary responsibility if they hire you.
At Reventify, we don’t believe in references. 99 out of 100 times, the HR manager would never take a second look at your references. The only time it could help get you a foot in the door, is if the referee works in that organization or is a highly influential figure that the HR Manager would be surprised to see on your CV. Otherwise, don’t include one.
There you have it. CV writing is a skill that anyone can learn and increase their chances of getting a job. Over the years, i’ve been able to get 1 out of every 4 company i’ve applied to reach out to me for an interview. A disclaimer is that whilst the CV helped greatly, it was not the only activity that got me a leg into the company. Each job comes with its peculiarities which automatically make the requirements of the CV different.
However, if you are struggling to write a perfect CV, it’s time to join the reventify bandwagon and let’s help you increase your chances of landing your dream job in Nigeria and abroad.