So let’s summarize the 10 things you can do to improve the success of your CV.
1. Perfect Delivery
2. Best of You
3. Clear Vision
4. Summary of Your Career
5. Chronological Order
6. Good Grammar
7. Good Spelling
8. Consistent Structure
9. Show Stability
10. Show Value
1. Perfect Delivery: Most job applications and CVs today are sent electronically. A CV sent via email should have a subject. Subject fields that are empty or show the CV as being forwarded give the impression that the candidate is ill-prepared for the recruitment process. Applicants should follow the instructions of the advertised position. If the instructions say quote the Job Reference in the subject field then do so. If there are no instructions then ensure the Job Title and Job Reference are included in the subject field. Subjects like “Fwd,” “My CV”, “Resume” are also not ideal subject options. The subject should use a unique identifier to reflect content of the email and its attachment. If you are sending your CV to someone who has requested your CV, then your name in the subject field will be helpful e.g Andrew Peter’s CV. In addition, always send your CV with an accompanying email. In my opinion, this is your chance to make a positive first impression. Empty email content can be interpreted as having nothing to say. Emails that only have the words ‘Find attached’, ‘See attached CV for your perusal’ depict little or no effort. Emails that depict a long trail of the CV being forwarded to several employers also appear unprepared. The employer must not see evidence of your active job search. In addition, copying several employers and recruiters in the same email is bad news. Use Bcc if you have to send an email to multiple people, that way they cannot see the other recipients of the email. Job seeking is a real job in itself, so each application should be taken seriously and independently.
2. Best of You: Your CV is you, a representation of you. Possibly the only representation of you that many will see first. So think through this question, how do you want a prospective employer to see you? What impression do you want to give of yourself. If you want to appear attractive, your CV should be attractive. If your CV shows little or nothing then you are communicating you have little or nothing to offer and you know that’s not true because everyone of us has something. So who are you? Showcase yourself. Show originality and what is unique about you. Let’s see you. Let’s get to know you. Are you attractive in anyway? Tell us, Show it.
3. Your Vision and Goals: Where are you going? A good CV is clear on career ambitions. What kind of role are you looking to get with your CV? Be clear. State it from the onset. Your CV should begin with a statement of intent. Some CVs start with a Career Summary, some with a Career Objective either way ensure your objectives are stated. There is nothing like someone with a clear direction. It sets the tone for focus.
4. Summary of your Career: Where are you going? Where are you now? and where have you been? Please tell us, we are intrigued. Your CV should not leave us guessing the answers to these questions.
5. Chronological Order: Starting at your current of most recent job to earliest. Always start from most recent to earlier and if you have had over 5 roles you can summarize your earlier career.
6. Good Grammar: Once I receive an email application, I always scan through for grammatical errors. If the CV has grammatical errors and the job requires good written communication skills, I decide there are then not to proceed with the applicant. Grammatical errors take many forms and often begin in the body of the email, before one even gets a chance to review the CV. Examples of poor grammar are using small letters instead of capitals for starting sentences and pronouns e.g london, lagos and i. Other examples are using ‘am’ instead of ‘I’m’ and using commas with no spaces between the words e.g london,lagos,and lagoon. I sadly see a lot of these.
7. Good Spelling: Like Grammatical errors, if the job requires strong written communication skills, spelling errors can abort the application process. The worst must be writing in shorthand e.g hv instead of have, bizness instead of business, c instead of see. What may appear as harmless typos can be a deal breaker for some employers. Triple check your CV for spelling errors. If I had to pick a top 5 list of application errors made by job seekers, Poor Grammar and Spelling will be in the Top 3.
8. Consistent Structure: If the CV format used makes it difficult to follow your Career Objective, Qualifications, Skills and Work Experience then this shortfall will be to your detriment. There are many good CV templates available online, find them and use them. Other key elements of a good CV structure are the order of the CV sections. Elements like Career Objective or Profile should come first. As for the rest of the CV, it really depends on your unique selling points. My advice is, put your best foot forward. If you went to good, reputable schools then put Education first. If you have worked in well known companies then you can start with that instead. If you have relevant professional qualifications then that is good to put forward if it will be an advantage to your application. Sell your best features first.
9. Stability: Truth is most employers are put off by CVs that depict instability. A job every year would make the average employer feel they would probably lose you in another year and thus they will not like to take that risk if it is not a contract or short term job. While this is not a CV quality per se, it is a feature that is considered.
10. Value: Employers are looking for value and your CV may be your only chance to demonstrate that. A CV that demonstrates value will get called for an interview. What knowledge and skills do you possess? What goals have you achieved? What makes you stand out from the rest? Why should the employer pick you? Value can also be demonstrated via valuable work experience. What value did you bring to previous employers? Listing your job responsibilities shows us your job description not your value. Your CV should showcase value. Depict your achievements not your duties.