I get lots of questions on CV writing. Here are my thoughts for writing a winning CV;I consider CV writing an art of story telling!
The journey to your next job is a story that deserves to be written beautifully.
Did you know? Before a candidate even gets an opportunity to meet HR or Hiring Manager, the CV has told a story? The story determines whether or not the candidate gets an opportunity to meet HR. Every candidate can be proactive to ask themselves - what story is my CV telling?
Some weeks back, I shared a story on a specific referral I got after I put out a vacancy for a Senior Role in a Technology company. I reviewed the CV of a candidate who came highly recommended, it wasn't striking so I passed. After my connection pressed on, I decided to review the CV again. Still, nothing was striking as per requirements for the role. I decided to call the candidate irrespective. In the course of the call, I realized this individual indeed had the required experience but had taken it out of her CV. Reason? She didn't want her CV to be too long or exceed two pages. This candidate has nearly 10 years' experience, including strong multinational experience. I gave a few pointers and had her review the CV. She was eventually considered for an interview and she clinched the offer.
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My thoughts on a winning CV are simple;
- If you have relevant experience, it is okay to leave it on your CV.
- It is okay for your CV to be a one or two pages longer. What is not okay is to populate your CV with irrelevant, repetitive and unnecessarily long information. Keep it quick and nice to read.
- Keep your CV simple, packed with positive power words on what I call the KSAAs - Knowledge, Skills, Abilities and Achievements. Employers want to know these about you - what you know, what you can do, what you have done and the results you have achieved.
- Do not dwell so much on the activities you carry out on a daily basis but the results and achievements of those activities.
- Employers want to know how you reason in specific situations and your thought process around solving simple or complex business problems.
- Be specific, showcase exact projects you executed and how they were beneficial to the business or team you worked with.
- You may also be candid to mention a few lessons you learnt the hard way after realizing certain solutions you thought to be great had flopped and you had to take quick decisions to turn things around for better results. It is these things that form well rounded experience, in fact some senior executives say they don't want to hire people who haven't made mistakes before. They say that when problems happen that require quick thinking to decipher new strategies, they struggle. Again, don't write a novel on this, keep it short!
- Even if you ran or still run a small personal business (buying & selling etc.), present it nicely on your CV too. These days, the rise of entrepreneurship has made employees with entrepreneurial mindset and prior experience as entrepreneurs assets. Even if your small business failed, you could still be an asset because you would have learnt valuable lessons on running a small business.
- If you want your CV short, remember, it is okay to make a Resume too and keep both handy to share. I am sure you are thinking - What is the difference between a CV and a Resume? A CV is detailed account of your professional experience, a Resume is a summary of the same, usually a one pager.
- Finally, keep an adjustable cover note handy too, this you can adapt to better showcase your suitability for roles. NEVER send a job application without a cover note especially via email. A cover note is a warn note that says 'Hello' to the person at the other end, tells them why you are applying for the job, thanks them for their time to review your application and reminds them you will appreciate their feedback.
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Not everyone will get the opportunity to have someone review their CV and provide constructive feedback. Your CV goes ahead of you, make sure it tells a great story about you and your professional journey. Look at your CV today. Do you love the story it tells? If you don't love the story, rewrite it today. Make it simple, quick and nice to read. Never too late to get it right.
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About the Author
Ifeadi Anigbogu is a senior professional in People Management, Management Consulting and Human Resources Consulting. She is an international speaker, a writer, a content creator, a career and business success Coach.
You can reach her on LinkedIn here.