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How to write a Sellable CV

The Introduction:

A study revealed that more than 50% of active job seekers in Nigeria found a job owing to their family and friends.

It’s true that getting a job in this country could proof difficult for some job seekers, especially with the inflation rate forcing employers to halt recruitment, and the bad economic situation forcing investors to move their business out of the country.

All these and more have reduced the number of jobs available. The supply of labour has surely overshadowed its demand and job seekers must compete against one another for gainful employment.

The competition in the Nigerian labour market has grown so stiff that getting employed has become a reason for testimony in our churches and mosques.

This situation has created another industry. An industry were professionals and not- so professional persons give career advice to job seekers for a fee, their most popular mantra is – “Getting a job is a job in itself”.

Unfortunately, it is totally true, imagine trying to get a job in a job market where more than 5 million youths join the ever growing army of unemployed persons every year.

Imagine trying to land an entry level job and needind a Professional qualification to get a chance.

People are rushing to do their Masters Degree because they want to be employable and not because the jobs demands more knowledge”.

In most cases, your CV is your first contact with the recruiter and like every first contact/meeting, you have to try to create a great first impression.

Many job seekers fail to land their dream jobs because they don’t have a good CV, and having a good CV transcends beyond stating your beautiful grade, work experience or references.

It is an art in itself to know how to properly present your skills and competencies. Most multinational firms now make use of an ATS (Applicant Tracking System). This is an application that automatically process applicant’s resume and weed out candidates that are not good enough or seem not to be good enough. It would also surprise you to know that many job seekers don’t know what a cover letter looks like, not to talk of knowing how to write it.

Today we would be looking at the topic _“How to write a Sellable CV”_.

I am sure we all have a CV/Resume that we use for our job applications, and for those of us that have secured employment, you would agree with me that the importance of having a CV cannot be over emphasized when it comes to job seeking.

The best way to look at a CV is to see it as a “Personal Marketing Tool” that you can use to sell your skills, qualities, expertise and potentials to a prospective employer.

Your CV is the first thing a prospective employer will see about you, and it is the only part of the selection process that you have full control over. You are the only person who decides what any potential employer sees or reads about you. Your CV tells volumes about you. Within seconds of looking at it, you can tell whether a person is highly employable or unprofessional, unorganized, and clumsy with little attention to detail.

Always remember the golden rule; You are what your CV tells people you are!

A typical CV would contain in brief the following information about you:

  • Personal Details (Name, Address,
  • Telephone Numbers, Email Address)
  •  Work Experience
  •  Skills (Technical and/or Personal)
  • Hobbies and Interests
  • References

The Personal details section would normally contain your name, date of birth and contact information which may include; your address, telephone number, and email address.

Kindly note that whenever you are applying for jobs in the private sector, don’t include your state of origin, religion, and local govt in your personal details section, unless of course it was specifically requested.

It would also do you a lot of good to make sure you don’t let the personal details take too much space on your CV as you would need the space for the other sections.

A typical CV shouldn’t be more than 2 pages especially where you have less than two years experience.

It strongly recommended that you don’t put the title “Curriculum Vitae” on your CV. Instead, you use your full name with a font size 26 and the arrangement of your name is important too. If you are starting with your last name (surname), then you should put a comma before writing the other names for example “Adams, Abiodun Adebowale”

The “Education Section”: This section is where you have your Academic Qualifications stated with institutions attended. Don’t go putting your primary school education or day care in this section. Employers don’t care about that.

You start with your most recent academic qualification and trace it down to your secondary school education.

If you did external WAEC then you don’t need to include the secondary school you attended, just put the name of the school where you obtained your WAEC result and move on.

You should also include the class of your grade in your Tertiary Education part.

Please, don’t include Professional Qualifications in this section. You are to create another section for this if you have any.

The third section is the Work Experience and this is the most important section of all.

This is where the magic happens, if you are paying anyone to write your CV for you. If he/she can’t sell your work experience then you should get a refund.

Please don’t put working experience on your CV. It’s Work Experience.

This section would normally contain your work history, arranged in a chronological order.

Each experience on this section should indicate the job title, name of employer, and should contain the list of job responsibilities. You would outline the job responsibilities in bullets. Why? Because the ATS usually look out for bullets.

If you have held Senior Management positions, job responsibilities is better replaced with Job Accomplishments.

Please note that when outlining your job responsibilities, try to use action oriented words like; led, demonstrated, collaborated, coordinated, managed, performed and also try to emphasis the impact of your work.

The recruiter needs to understand exactly what role you played through specific actions during a particular experience.

Let’s say you have a work experience of an HR intern.

If you want to describe one of your job responsibilities, lets say induction, it should look like this:

Developed an induction schedule for Departmental Heads in the Organization and effectively monitored its implementation. This led to a 40% increase in job satisfaction among the newly employed employees.

You would notice that i used the word “developed”. Any ATS would pick that whole sentence.

Ordinary NYSC primary school teacher work experience that is illustrated in this manner is pure gold.

Finally, please don’t include the names and addresses of your referees in your CV.

The information of those distinguished individuals ought to be protected. Just write “Available on request” in the referee section.

I would like to inform you that a CV does not have a specific format or arrangement.

Infact, the arrangement of the sections is a strategy on it’s own. If you have a lot of work experience but falls short in the Education Section, it is advisable that you follow the Personal details section with the Work Experience section

For fresh graduates, that don’t have ample work experience you can sell yourself by making sure you package and garnish that your voluntary and leadership experience from school.

One thing i have learned is that everyone has something to sell. Everyone has Strengths. All you need is some packaging, garnishing and spice to bring it our to the fore.