If you ever intend to apply for a job, scholarship, internship or for any professional role anywhere, then you need to have a CV. A CV is one of the most important personal documents you’ll need in your professional life.
When you apply for a role anywhere, your CV is usually the first point of contact the recruiter makes with you. It is your chance to make a great first impression and secure yourself an interview so you don’t want to mess it up.
Research done by the job search site, TheLadders.com revealed that most recruiters do not actually read your CV. They only spend 15 to 30 seconds scanning through it and they make a decision on whether to call you for an interview or throw your CV into the trash within that 30 seconds.
The number of people looking for jobs is increasing by the day. Which means recruiters are now receiving more applications and CVs than ever. Because of this, recruiters are beginning to prefer shorter CVs so they don’t have to spend too long reviewing them.A CV is one of the most important personal documents you'll need in your professional life. Click To Tweet
Considering that such a short time is spent reviewing your CV, it makes no sense to write a CV several pages long. There are exceptions of course but the general rule is to keep it as short as possible. Keeping it short means you have to exclude anything which is unnecessary and only include the most important things.
Take note that there is never a one-CV-fits all kind of CV. The CV of a fresh university graduate will be different from that of an industry veteran or a university professor. Also, your CV may also vary depending on the job you are applying for so you need to take note of all of these while writing your CV.
Recently, there is a trend towards 1-page CVs which many recruiters are beginning to prefer and this post is meant to help you write a great 1-page CV. Before we look at the elements of a great 1-page CV, here are a few reasons why you should actually have one.
- A 1-page CV helps you focus on your most important content
- Recruiters don’t read have time to read through several pages of your CV.
- Long CVs cause people to miss the important stuff because it gets diluted with the unimportant stuff too.
- Companies are beginning to use CV screening software which automatically discards multi-page CVs.
- A longer CV doesn’t imply better CV
Now let’s look at the elements of a great 1-page CV
1. Name, Contact and Address
Keep this short and simple. No need to write the title “Curriculum Vitae”. The person reviewing your CV already knows this. State your contact information clearly. Use a professional looking email address. A good rule is to create an email in this format. email@example.com. Avoid funny looking email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. They create the impression that you are not serious.Avoid funny looking email addresses. They create the impression that you are not serious. Click To Tweet
Using a funny email address like that could have your CV ending up in the trash quickly. One survey found that 76% of CVs with unprofessional email addresses are ignored. Also avoid outdated email providers like AOL, Rocketmail, etc. Stick to Gmail or at worse, Yahoo. If you have your own domain, perfect. You could create something like firstname.lastname@example.org. This even gives you some more credibility.
2. Your Work Experience
If you have some work experience, list the last two or three of them in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent one. If you have held many jobs in the past, only list the ones which are relevant to the job you are applying for. For each of your work experiences, make one or two short bullet points to give more detail about what you did. Keep the bullet points short and focus on your accomplishments rather than your responsibilities. Also use action-oriented words like developed, made, planned, organized.
The recruiter cares more about what you accomplished than what you were assigned to do. For instance, instead of saying “I was responsible for designing the company’s website” you can say “Singlehandedly built company’s entire online platform from scratch”.
As often as possible, quantify your accomplishments. If you helped the company make profits, state how much you helped them make within what period. “Made Ghc 100,000 in sales as a salesman between July and December 2016”
If you are a student and do not have any work experiences you can bring your educational background section before the work experience section. Internships, seminars, workshops, vacation jobs and volunteer activities also pass as work experience.
3. Your Educational Background
In this section list the most recent education you have had. If you had good grades in school, you can state your GPA. You can also include some courses or subjects you took while in school.
4. Projects and Volunteer Work
Pick your top projects and volunteer work and list them under this section. They can be academic projects, solo projects or projects you’ve worked on as part of a team. They don’t have to be launched or completed. Once you have done a significant amount of work on it, you can include it. Remember to include timelines and dates for the projects you worked on. Again, keep it relevant to the job you are applying for.
5. Achievements and Awards
In this section make a bullet list of your most recent and most relevant achievements and any awards you have won. If you think you haven’t achieved anything, think again. Your achievements do not always have to be formal awards. Aside from academic awards, awards from competitions or corporate awards you can also add honourable mentions in media publications, receiving a recommendation or promotion or even anything you are particularly proud of
6. Skills and Interests
List your most relevant skills here. Unless you do not have many skills avoid adding skills like “Proficient in Microsoft Word”. It does little to enhance your CV. These days, recruiters will be actually surprised if you do not know how to use Microsoft Word. Being able to speak multiple international languages is a good skill you should definitely add to your CV. Also, avoid phrases like “Great team player” and “Good organizational skills” as they have become clichés nowadays.
The interests section allows recruiters to peer into your personality and see what you are interested in. If you have any interests or hobbies which relate to the industry you are applying for a job in, or if your hobbies strengthen your CV, include them. Avoid passive, solitary hobbies like reading or watching TV.
Personally, I do not like to include references in my CV. Usually, recruiters will not call your references until you make it past the interview stage. However, if you do decide to include references, people you can use as references include your boss at your former workplace, your school teacher or anyone of high repute who knows you fairly well.
Make sure you get their permission and get their updated contact information. Since there is a chance some of them may have forgotten you, it is better to contact them before you list them as references.
Tips that would ensure you have a great CV
Here are some tips which will ensure that you have a good CV.
- Proofread Your CV: When asked what would make them automatically reject a candidate, 61% of employers mentioned CVs with spelling mistakes or other typographical errors. You don’t want your well-written CV ending up in the trash because of one simple spelling mistake, so take time to proofread your CV and get others to proofread it too.
- Make sure your CV is relevant to the job you are applying for. You can keep a general CV template and edit it for each of the jobs you are applying for.
- Keep your CV up to date by revising it constantly.
- Use a good, easy-to-read font. Check out this post to see suggestions for good fonts you can use to write your CV.
- Use bullet points to make your CV look more readable
- Make sure your email and contact information is correct.
- Focus on your accomplishments.
Having a great CV is absolutely essential if you want to make it to the interview stage, it is therefore necessary that you take the trouble to write a good one.
I realize that this is a lot of information and you probably want to save it and refer to it later. As a bonus, I have made this post into an E-book that you can download for free and keep as a resource when you are ready to write your own CV.
For my CV, I used a table based CV template from CareerCup which I am happy to share with you.
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Happy CV writing!