We love it when Blog Readers share their views or knowledge with us. Blog Reader FNLP has taken the time to share with us, in response to a request made by some of you, her great tips for a successful CV.
Tips that have helped me while job-hunting
1. Rules about your age (D.O.B). Never ever put your age on your CV. Its actually not necessary. They don’t need to know that until much later or until they ask. During your interview, you can then reveal your age.
2. Using unprofessional email addresses. I remember about two years ago when I sent my CV to a certain Law Firm in Lekki and I had mistakenly used this yahoo email ad that I set up in secondary school back in ’04 and it had my name and the word ‘baby’ in it. A Partner in the Firm replied my mail and asked whether I didn’t think the email address was unprofessional. I apologized to him and blamed it on the default setting on my Blackberry. Best believe, I never heard from that Firm again. So please, no Employer is going to take you seriously if you send your CV with an ad like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. At the moment, the email address on my current CV is email@example.com and if you don’t have your own domain name then just keep it simple and use firstname.lastname@example.org or yahoo, hotmail etc.
3. Keep your CV short and simple. Never ever more than 2 pages. I was told off many times because of my 4-page CV. Generally, Employers are put off once they see anything more than 2 pages. They actually put it aside and read the shorter ones. I have seen this happen.
4. First thing an Employer wants to see when they pick up your CV. Put your full name and your qualification as the heading/subject of your CV and make it bold and a bigger font size than the rest of your CV. So if for instance, your name is Michael John and you have a B.Sc and M.Sc in Economics then let the heading/subject of your CV read something like “Michael John B.Sc; M.Sc”. Put it at the very top center of the page and then have your email address and telephone number under. So basically the heading of your CV is about 3 lines.
5. Your past jobs/experience. When you are trying to describe/explain previous work experience, after stating the name of the Company you worked for, from then on, keep it strictly bullet points. No long story, no long paragraphs or sentences. Just one liners and bullet points.
6. Back it up. Again, with rule number 5, you need to be able to back up whatever you have written. E.g if you stated in your CV that you were the head of research at so so and so Company, you had better be ready to explain what the role entailed, to your interviewer. Practice in front of a mirror what you would say and how you would say it.
7. Appearance. You would think this was an obvious one but people still get it wrong. I watched a Lady get turned back and even told off because she came for an interview looking like she was still lounging at home. You don’t have to wear a suit (don’t look like you are trying too hard) but be professional, be neat and please for the love of God, smell nice.
8. References. Leave your referees/references out of your CV. The Employer doesn’t have to know that until you actually get called for an interview/if they ask. But don’t put your referee’s name and details on your actual CV. You don’t want a situation where a potential Employer calls one of your referees before you are even called for an interview. You need to be prepared. Both you and your referees.
9. Google is your friend. Google is your friend when it comes to dodgy interview addresses/Companies. If you are like me and have used The Guardian Newspaper a lot, you are bound to get ‘funny’ text messages asking you to come with 5,000 naira and a full picture of yourself to some dingy building in Oshodi. Lol. A few times, I have typed in the names and numbers of these Companies into Google and immediately came up with stories and comments from other job applicants about scams/scammers. Do a quick Google search when you aren’t sure.
10. No gaps in your CV. Make sure you have no gaps in your CV. If you have been unemployed and doing nothing at home for 6 months, lets say January 2013 to July 2013, try to fill that gap in your CV. Ask an Uncle or Aunty or someone you know if you can put their Company’s name on your CV and say you worked for them as so so and so. Employers HATE seeing gaps so if you have been at home for a year, you had better be ready to explain what you were doing during that one year period. E.g sometime early last year, I resigned from my bank job and was at home for at least 6 months so during that period, I asked my Brother who runs an online business, if I could state on my CV that I did some legal work for him. Of course, to my next Employer, that was just another job I had after my bank job.
11. Tweak your CV. I am not saying you should lie but try to make it a bit more attractive. E.g if you handled the research work for a Company you worked for and you were the only research person there, in your CV, for one of your bullet points, you could write something like “Overseeing the affairs of the research department of the Company”.
12. ***Secret golden tip. I call this one my golden weapon because this is exactly how I got my current job (so Thelma, you will pay o!). Ok rule number 12 is, get as many CEO’s email addresses as you can and guess what guys? You can actually guess just by using the format of any email address you find on their official Company website. Let me explain, lets say Mr David Joseph is the CEO of African Incorporation and you go on their Company Website and under “careers”, it says send ur CV to email@example.com. When you are done sending your CV to that address, send a couple more emails with your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com and the chances of the CEO himself replying you are very high.
I have done this many times for Law firms and almost every time, I got a reply from one of the Senior Partners. Again, I don’t work in a Law firm but this is exactly how I got my current job; the CEO replied me and called me for an interview. I didn’t even have to go through their HR! So trust me, it works. Sometimes, you need to take the bull by its horns and go directly to the top.
Hope this helped. As I told a commenter before, Jobberman is good! Honestly, if you have been at home for a while and not registered on Jobberman (Nigeria’s number one jobsite), then I don’t think you are ready for a job. A few months back, someone was lamenting to me about how he had no job, first thing I asked him was if he was registered on Jobberman and he said No. I was quite baffled! I forced him to register and some weeks later, he called me that he got an interview and he now works in one of the multinationals on the Island. True story.
Good luck guys.