How many CVs have you sent out to vacant positions advertised in different institutions? Are you frustrated when you get no response, positive or negative, from these organizations? Job seeking can be very frustrating, especially in a country like Kenya where unemployment rate keeps getting worse. However, your Curriculum Vitae might be the reason you are not getting the all-important call. We shall show you how to write a CV that will communicate your skills well and elicit a response from the potential employer.
What is a Curriculum Vitae?
The term Curriculum Vitae is borrowed from Latin and basically means “course of life”. This basically means a summary of the course of your professional and academic life.
However, the term is mostly used interchangeably with resume, but there is a slight difference. While a CV will showcase your entire course of education, professional career and other aspects, a resume just focuses on skills and competencies you have.
Usually, most employees are interested in an all rounded individual and so will ask for a CV rather than a resume.
Factors to Consider when Writing your CV
There are several things that you need to take into account when writing your CV. Your CV is just an advertisement of your skills and competencies, hence, you should be able to demonstrate these.
1. What Information does the Employer Need on the CV
There is particular information that you should always include in your CV. The potential employer should have this basic information before you are considered for a position.
Some of this information includes:
- Your personal information/bio data (name, DOB, contact info, etc.)
- Education history and professional qualifications
- Your skills and interests
- Your professional experience
- Your personal achievements (personal, academic or professional)
- Your Referees
Your CV must always be tailored to match the particular job you are applying for. Try and use a fresh-looking format that is relevant for the job and not too noisy. If you are not sure, just keep it simple.
2. Tailor your CV to the Job
Most candidates usually use the same CV for all the jobs they apply for. This should never be the case. You have to take time and study the organization. What do they specifically do? What are the common traits that they look for in a potential candidate? Are there any specific skills they are looking for? When writing or editing your CV, you have to put all these in mind and tailor the CV to fit into the job.
3. Research more through their Website
Most companies in Kenya would use recruiting agencies like BrighterMonday to advertise for their vacant positions in their organizations. However, do not only rely on the information that you get from these agencies. Take it a notch further and head to the company’s website and social media pages for more information. You might find further directions or information that was not included in the other agency listings.
4. Your Professional Experience
This is perhaps one of the important bits of your curriculum vitae. You should list down all the jobs that you have held in the recent past to the one you currently hold. With every position held, you should write the dates. When you started holding the position and when you ended working in that capacity.
5. What are your Hobbies and Interests?
You may overlook this, but it is just as important. Your hobbies and interests might speak loads about your personality and may make you stand out from other applicants for the same position. You always want to be seen as a team player. Therefore, it is important to list hobbies that portray you as such.
Employers are attracted to team players, as much as some people are more productive working passively. You want to choose your hobby playing football over watching TV. Hobbies such as watching TV and puzzles are will imply that you are a passive individual with a solitary personality.
6. List your Skills
It is important to list the skills that you are good at. Especially those that are relevant to the position that you are applying for. It could be industry specific skills, general skills like computer skills, languages that you speak etc.
How to Write the CV
When you have all this information. You can now compile it all into your CV. Here is how you can go about it.
1. Design/Format of the CV
This mostly depends on your own creativity. How you are going to break down the information. You might choose to separate different sections with a line or put sections in boxes. You can try out different designs to see which one best fits your personality.
2. Your Bio Data on Top
You should have your name, contact information and address at the top of the page. You should also make the font size of your name a bit bigger than the rest of the text in the body of the CV. The reader will always be aware that they are reading information about you.
3. Your Personal Statement
It is not a must to include this in your CV but you can always add your personal statement as a short profile or description about you and what you are all about.
4. Your Professional Experience Section
Personally, I find this as the most important section of your CV. Most employers will take time and study your professional experience to gauge whether you are the right pick for the job. Here, you will list the jobs and positions you previously held. However, it is important to only list the relevant jobs for the position that you are applying for. List the jobs in reverse chronological order, starting with the latest position, down to your first job.
5. Your Academic Experience Section
This section should list all the major academic milestones. Some people choose to have this section before the professional experience section. However, the order is totally up to you. This section should start with your highest academic level working backwards. For example, you should list your university, followed by Secondary School education and finish with your Primary School education. Alongside each level, you should include the certification acquired, the dates and grades acquired at each level.
6. Your Skills and Achievements Section
Is there any particular achievement you got from previous positions held? In this section you will showcase these achievements and list all the relevant skills you have acquired over the year you have been working. If you have any of your previous works published, you will share them in this section.
7. Your Interests
Make a list of all your interests separately. Choose the interests that speak positively about your character. List those in this section.
8. Any Other Information
Any other relevant information can be included in this section. For example, you might have taken time off employment when you had your child. You can include that information to explain gaps that might be in your CV.
9. References Section
The references section is very important. Most employers will want to substantiate the information you are giving in your CV. In this section, you can list former colleagues who can attest to the information given through the experience of working with you. Always inform the referees before you include them in your CV. This way, if the potential employer chooses to call them, they are fully aware.
What Next After Compiling your Curriculum Vitae?
Now that you have compiled all the information, there are a few things you need to look before sending out your CV. So, before you send out the CV, you need to:
- Inspect your spelling and grammar to ensure there are no mistakes.
- Proofread and improve the structure of your sentences.
- Think as an employer and read your CV out loud.
- Get a second opinion from someone else about your CV.
After all these steps, your CV is now ready to be sent out. As final steps, you can write a good cover letter. Check for instructions from the vacancy advertisement for any other information that they require you to send along with the CV.
So, that is how you write a great CV that will definitely spark a response from the potential employer. How do you think you can make the CV even better? Share in the comments below.