How To Write A CV
Your CV is the potential employer’s first impression of you. The purpose of the CV is to introduce and showcase your skills to the employer in order to obtain an interview. It should project your personality, show your skills, abilities, and experience to your prospective employer. Although there are different CV templates for different industries, here is the standard information that should be included in your CV.
What Information Should Be Included In A CV?
- Email address
- Mobile number
- Date of birth
- Languages spoken
These are the general things that introduce you to the prospective employer. It’s also important that your contact details are clearly displayed.
2. Profile Summary
It’s a brief summary of your CV. This section lets the prospective employer in on your education and professional background. This is perhaps the most important part of the CV as this is the exact information that the employer looks for when deciding whether a candidate is suitable for a particular position.
3. Key skills
You can list your technical skills, relational skills and knowledge. For example, you can mention strong analytical and strategic planning skills. This part lets you state what soft skills you have or what additional skills you have on top of your education. Nowadays, employers want to hire candidates who have more than just education qualifications. They want to hire a person who is more than their education and this is where your technical and soft skills come in. Additionally, in this era of self-learning, it is important to let the employer know what additional skills you have acquired over time so mention these skills in this section of your CV.
Work and Experience
Start by listing your most recent job and job title first, stating the duration, duties undertaken and responsibilities. This is the part that answers the employer’s question on experience. The employer would like to know whether you have been engaged in similar work previously and how much you managed to achieve during this period.
In an increasingly competitive world, do not just mention your duties and responsibilities in your previous job. Formulate achieved targets in line with your duties and responsibilities. For example, if you were a community manager, you can say “Increased the company’s Facebook likes by 30% and engagement by 50%.” This not only tells the employer what you can do, but it also shows that you can be counted on, to deliver. The work experience section should come after your bio if you have worked for more than one year and after the education section if you have no experience or your experience is less than a year.
Start by listing your most recent education first, if you are a recent graduate or have limited work experience. The course name must be included as well as the institution/college and the duration it took.The education section should list major courses that you have undertaken such as your KCSE, undergraduate degree and master’s degree. You will realise that most employers state the qualification you are expected to have for a particular position so this is a very important part of the CV. If you have undertaken several courses, it is important for you to list the course that the employer has asked for. For example, if you have a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and another in Finance, yet the position you are applying for requires a person with a marketing degree, listing the finance degree will not be relevant. In any case, you may be deemed as being overqualified.
List these in order of priority, only including those which are relevant to the job you are applying for. Over time, you may have undertaken professional development courses. These are short courses that equip you with skills that enable you to perform your work well. You may have also attended seminars and training where you acquire important skills for the job. List them in this section so that the employer can know that you have job-specific skills, which can help you to go about doing your duties well.
While noting your extra skills, focus on those that are relevant to the job. Remember your CV should not be more than 2 pages long. If you include irrelevant information, your CV will be too long and most likely contain information that is not important for the employer.
7. References Section
You should list at least 3 referees on your CV. Ensure you provide the name, job title, organisation, email and phone number of your references. Any reference given must be able to confirm the information you have provided. Ensure that your referees are people who know about your skills and can back up the information on your CV.
If you are a fresh graduate, you can include the contacts for people such as lecturers. However, as you progress in your career, you will need to have past employers, supervisors or colleagues as your referees as these are people who know about your career journey and what specific skills you possess that are relevant to the job you are applying for.
8. Hobbies Section
The hobbies section tells the interviewer more about you as an individual. It shows that you have other interests that may or may not be related to the job. This is not a very necessary part to include in your CV but, you can always include it to give the potential employer a glimpse of your personality.
Only send copies of your officially certified certificates if the employer asks for them. Never send or hand original document. Additionally, the cover letter should be included in the email body of your email when submitting an application. Most employers do not want to go through the hustle of downloading your CV and cover letter. Write a short and informative cover letter to capture the recruiter’s attention then accompany it with a CV format that is appropriate and informative.
Common Questions about CVs
How long should a CV be?
A standard CV should ideally be not longer than two sides of an A4 page. Some academic CVs may, however, be longer depending on your experience.
Should I include a Cover Letter?
A cover letter is important as it introduces the recruiter to your CV and acts as a summary of your CV. Make it compelling so that the recruiter opens your CV
Find out how to write a persuasive cover letter here.
What are the consequences of lying on my CV?
In a tough job market, you might be tempted to adjust a few facts to make your CV more appealing to the recruiter. However, this is discouraged as such information eventually comes to the limelight and can have you fired even if you get the job.
Do I need to explain gaps in my CV?
Gaps are those moments when you were out of a job and a keen recruiter will pick out such incidences. As a result, you can explain the gaps so that the recruiter has a clear idea of why it exists. For example, you may say “Took time off to take care of my family.” Most recruiters will understand this and are willing to give you a try.
Get help with your CV
If you are a student or recent graduate then you can get professional CV advice from BrighterMonday.