A well-written CV greatly improves you chances of getting a job in a country like Nigeria where jobs are hard to come by. A CV is basically the first interview in any job application process, this alone is enough reason for employment seekers to take writing it seriously.
If you want to have a foothold in any job interview screening, you need to make sure your CV is top notch, and contains exactly what the employer or recruitment manager wants to see. In this article, we will be showing you the right way to write a CV, and gain advantage in the interview and employment process for any job.
Before we get to the main focus of this article, it is important we address a critical issue faced by most job seekers, especially those in the professional category. This issue is no other than the confusion of a CV with a Resume (Résumé). A lot of people job seekers are affected by this, and it’s no surprise why this is prevalent among unemployed youths – writing of CVs and/or Résumé is not part of the learning curriculum in any education level. Well that being said, it’s important you as a reader gets the right information, and apply it to your next job interview. To correct this, the following questions will be answered;
What is a CV?
A Curriculum Vitae (“course of life” in Latin), is simply a well detailed document that contains the course of your career. Most CVs are written with 2-3 pages, but some robust careers can take up to 15 pages if necessary. A standard CV should contain details of the following;
- Contact details
- Objective/personal statement/professional profile
- Professional/Academic appointments
- Books/Book chapters written (if any)
- Reviewed publications (if any)
- Awards and Honours received (if any)
- Grants and fellowships (if any)
- Conferences attended (if any)
- Teaching Experience (if any). Note this shouldn’t be confused with “academic appointments”
- Graduate fieldwork/Research experience
- Non-academic activities.
- Language, and skills
- Memberships (if any)
What is a Résumé?
A Résumé (“to sum up” in English), is simply a short, and clear document used to apply for a job. Unlike a CV that contains all aspects of your professional life, Résumés should only contain details that are related to the job being applied for. A standard Résumé should only include the following;
- Contact information
- Work Experience
What is the Difference Between both Documents?
The difference is typically the size of the document, and what it’s expected to display. While a CV should be showing everything about your professional career, a Résumé should only highlight the parts that relates to the job vacancy.
What is the Similarity Between both Documents?
- Both gives details about the career of a person
- Non-professional careers of the person is not included
- Most CVs for careers shorter than 10 years are usually the size of a Résumé
When can you use either of them or both?
For applying for jobs in European and African countries you can use either of them interchangeably. However, it should be noted that a Résumé is generally preferred because if its layout, and length. That being said, some companies might specifically ask for your CV, when this happens, send them both (the main CV and the Résumé). This is because after a glance at the Résumé, if you pass their first hurdle, your CV can be used for more qualification screening. If you are applying for jobs in the US however, a Résumé is what must be used.
Having cleared that, let’s get to know a proper way of writing a CV for applying for a job in Nigeria.
How to Write a Standard CV in Nigeria
It should be emphasised that there’s no “one and final” way of writing/structuring a CV – after all, writing is art.
Step 1: Choose a Format
This has to do with choosing the layout and font you want your CV to appear after printing. Not all formats are common among employers, you should choose a format that will ensure your employer doesn’t struggle to see important details like qualifications, past work experience, and contact info.
The most common format being used today is the “Reverse-chronological format”, it’s popular among employers, and ideal for applying for entry-level jobs. However using something like the “Functional format” can really help you highlight skills if you have no experience, but not always recommended because recruitment managers may think you’re hiding a flaw in your career by using it. The “Combination format“ on the other hand, is one that balances skills with experience levels.
Step 2: Contact information
Unless specified in the vacancy notification, always try to leave personal information out of your CV. Information like home address, passport photograph, and date of birth should be omitted unless specified by the employer. It’s often better to keep it simple with a format like;
Name: First name, last name, then middle name should be optional
- Phone Number: Write just one phone number. Preferable a personal or home number
- Email Address: Use a professional looking email address. You should add just one.
Step 3: Writing the Objective or Summary Statement
As we know, the objectives/summary appears at the top of the CV, and employers are likely to spend more time on it than other parts of the CV.
Now this is where you need to show candidacy, and the right pattern to use should largely hinge on two factors; experience and skill.
If you are one with experience, state your profession, then achievements (more effective when you quote numbers or percentages), lastly a sentence to show attractive candidacy (more effective if you mention the name of the company).
Whatever you do, don’t confuse or replace your achievements with normal everyday duties expected from an employee.
If you don’t have any experience with the position you’re applying for, you should highlight transferable skills from your previous job or experience.
Now you should replace writing about your achievements with laying a claim that you should be considered for the Job, because you have experience relevant to it (again, add figures and/or percentages while doing this. Finally, conclude with showing good candidacy.
For both cases, try to avoid using the “first-person tone” when writing.
Step 4: Adding Work Experience
This should contain all previous work experience and positions relevant to the job role you are applying for. If you have more than one work experience, start with your most recent job experiences, and take it in a reverse chronological order. Enter jobs in the pattern below;
- Job Title
- Company (add the city and state, like you’re giving a sketchy address)
- Employment dates
- Key responsibilities or roles
- Key accomplishments
Use bullet points when adding work experience, it helps an employer skim through it better.
Step 5: Education
Always add your highest degree first, then add any other in reverse chronological order. If you’re just an entry level graduate (BSc or HND), no need to add your secondary school degree. If you have any notable honours during course or any relevant position like Dean’s list or faculty president, add it here. Finish up with an extra curricular activity you did if any.
Please note if you have no experience directly relevant to the job, put your education first before experience.
Step 6: Add Skills and Interests
It’s always advised to add skills and interests relating to the job or it’s responsibilities. It’s no use writing juggling as a skill when you’re applying for the post of a bank teller.
Step 7: References
Number of references is usually 3, (1 for education, 2 for work experience). However, some organisations may request just two.
The shorter a CV, the more attention is given to it. That being said, don’t reduce fonts in a bid to get everything in one page, your CV should be very legible and easy to comprehend. Always avoid the use of generic words like hardworking, easy going, or multitasker.
You should always try to incorporate active verbs in your statements, verbs like; established, created, gained, etc. Last proof read your CV, make sure it’s error free.