HOW COMPETITIVE IS YOUR CV?

HOW COMPETITIVE IS YOUR CV?

HOW COMPETITIVE IS YOUR CV/RÉSUMÉ?

In today’s ever-challenging business world, competition for talent is intensifying, though the ever-expanding business environment is ripe with job opportunities yet there are fewer qualified applicants available.

This dearth of qualified talents makes it more difficult for organizations to effectively attract and hire quality candidates, therefore, a great responsibility is placed on hiring managers/recruiters to devise several tools in selecting and hiring best and ‘culturally fit’ talents.

Selection of quality candidates has become fierce!! CV/Résumés are now under intense scrutiny.

While some CVs pass the 30 seconds review others are tossed in the bin- It’s the survival of the fittest!

Always remember that…..

‘it is not only how your résumé looks by itself; it is how it looks in comparison to other résumés’   – Professional Association of Résumé Writer and Career Coaches (PARW/CC)


How then do you make your CV competitive ………?

When it comes to CV/Résumé Writing, there are different and varying beliefs and techniques. Almost everyone has an opinion on ‘How and How Not’ to write a CV.

There have been instances of passionate debate among professionals on the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ of CV Writing and these debates are usually won by people with superior arguments.

Whatever the argument is, the general belief is that a well written and competitive CV should showcase candidate’s skills and potentials in an easy-to-read, logical and crisp format.

As a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and a member of Professional Association of Résumé Writers/Career Coaches (PARW/CC) our stand is ……

‘…. a guiding principle of the résumé writing profession is that there are no hard and fast rules! The one exception is that all documents should be error free. There is not one format, one layout, one strategy that everyone wants to the exclusion of all others’- PARW/CC

Exception: If the hiring company stipulates the exact format required for the CV/ Résumé.

In order to create a compelling, captivating and competitive CV, candidates should focus on CV Contents and Mechanism.

CV CONTENTS

Personal Details– This should contain information such as; Full Name or Title /Designation (if applicable).

Contact Information – Residential or Postal Address, functional E-mail, Phone Numbers, LinkedIn URL, Personal Website.

Additional Information-This may include; Language Proficiency (if multi-lingual), Date of Birth, Gender, Marital Status, Nationality, State of Origin and Local Government Area (L.G.A is optional but necessary if applying for roles or grants based on quota system in NIGERIA).

However, organizations that are keen on Diversity & Inclusion could find some details irrelevant or optional, such as; Gender, Religion, Age, Marital Status, Ethnic Group, Language, Nationality.

The rule of the game is to provide information that potential employer requires.

Education/Qualification: Include Dates, Name of Institution, Qualifications, Field of Study, Grades (from 3.5 GPA), Awards and Honors.

Training: List relevant trainings, seminars, conferences online and classroom based.

Certification: Include Certification Name, Certification Authority, Dates.

Membership/Affiliation: Include Organization Name, Position or Membership Status and Date of joining.

Work Experience– This should contain details such as; Name of Employer, Short description of company, locations (Town, City and Country), Job Title, Start-End dates on each role/company.

Include short description of employer if the company is not well-known or if product or service offering cannot be easily inferred from the company name.

Provide brief description of job responsibilities as well as significant, measurable and relevant accomplishments on each job. Use appropriate action words for great impact.

Check HERE for CV active verbs.

Skills– It could be Soft Skill/ Computer Skill /Technical Skills. Include job related or role specific skills that you have competence in.

#Details of references or referees should not be listed on the CV unless it is specifically required. Reference takes up space and it’s totally unnecessary. If you so wish, although not compulsory, you can always indicate that ‘referees will be provided on request’.

CV MECHANISM

Font Style/Size: You can play with fonts size as long as it follows same pattern and it’s consistent. Avoid using varying font style in one document!

Some CVs will have Verdana, Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial and Garamond fonts all in one document. This should be avoided. It makes the CV looks like a ‘tOGGLE cASE’ and unappealing to readers.

Upper Case or CAPs (Capital Letter): I have seen some CVs all in CAPS. Not just the section title but the entire CV!

In as much as writing in caps shows emphasis, it can as well put the reader off if it is overused. An all-CAPs document has all texts screaming for attention, at the same time.

Punctuation: Avoid unnecessary and incorrect use of punctuation. Do not forget to use (.) full stop to indicate the end of a sentence.

Margin/Formatting:

  • Use appropriate margin that will give the document enough white space, focus should be on appropriate mix of white space and words.
  • Always ensure that your CV is justified or well aligned. According to MS Word- ‘Justify (Ctrl+J) -Distribute your text evenly between the margins. Justified text give your document clean and crisp edges so it looks more polished’.
  • If CV is more than 1 page, insert your name/contact details as foot note or header on the extra pages.

Be consistent in your choice of formatting.

Spelling/Grammatical Errors: A CV full of spelling and grammatical errors shows chaos and could automatically lead to it being dumped in a ‘No’ pile.

Proofreading: It is advisable to always check for spellings and grammatical errors or incomplete information. Do not be in a hurry to send your CV without proofreading. You don’t want to give out an impression of sloppiness.

Acronyms/Industry Jargons: Limit the use of industry jargons or lingo even if they are common industry lingo. Jargon is the language, specialized terms or technical terminology used by certain profession or academic field. These words could be meaningless to others outside the specific field.

In order to avoid the CV looking gibberish to HR managers (who usually make first contact with applicant’s CV), the use of lingos should be minimized.

Likewise, if you must use acronyms then indicate the full meaning in parenthesis. More often than not, acronyms could have shared meaning across different sectors or industries. You wouldn’t want to leave the recruiter confused.


You can use any strategy or format in presenting CV but do not substitute great and relevant content for a graphically designed incoherent CV.

You only have 30seconds to impress the recruiter. Maximize it!


Conclusion

A competitive CV~~~

~has great and relevant contents

~is error-free and well-presented

~is reader-friendly

~will effectively showcase applicant’s skills and potentials

~is ‘fit for purpose’ – meets the job requirements

Find CV template/guide below;

CV Template

Before You Write The Next Cover Letter

Before You Write The Next Cover Letter

Cover letter is a statement of purpose, explaining applicant’s fit for specific position or role. Other titles used interchangeably for cover letter are; Application Letter, Application Essay, Personal Background, Introduction Letter, etc.

Most times, your cover letter could probably be the first thing the recruiter will see. Therefore, it should be written in a way that is appealing to the reader and as such invite the recruiter into the actual document [CV/Résumé]. The tone of the letter should be business-like, employer-focused and should respond to the job requirements.

Cover Letter should not be a ‘one-size-fits-all-role’ document.

It is not advisable to use one cover letter across board, for all vacancies, across all industries and sectors. Every cover letter should be customized for specific job vacancy, job responsibilities and job requirements.

Most often than not, job vacancies require cover letters. However, in a scenario where it is not explicitly stated as part of the job requirements, it will be worthwhile to write the cover letter as the body of the mail (BTW do not forget to attach your CV/Résumé).

Suggestion: Always have the specific job description handy when drafting a cover letter, pay attention to relevant keywords/phrases and present your skills or expertise in the most applicable way possible.

STRUCTURE

Address it like a business letter and you can adopt the recommendations below unless otherwise stated during application.

  • THEME FONT: The choice of font style should be clear and easy-to-read e.g. Times New Roman, Calibri, Serif, Arial, etc.
  • FONT SIZE– Font size should be between 10pts-12pts.
  • LENGTH– Total length should not exceed 1 page. If it goes beyond that, review and edit the document to fit into a page.
  • LINE SPACING– Use the line spacing rule as applicable on a business letter.

 

CONTENTS

Design or formatting is inconsequential if the content of your Cover Letter cannot effectively showcase your skills and potentials or demonstrate your fit for the role.

The contents of the letter should include;

  • Address of writer and recipient.
  • Salutation- keep it brief and direct.
  • Paragraphs- not be more than 4-5 paragraphs

 Ideas for arranging paragraphs;

¶ 1- Indicate purpose of application.

  • How did you hear about the role and through which medium- Newspaper publication/ website/ referral/ or on LinkedIn?
  • You could also specify why you are interested in working for this particular employer.

¶ 2 & 3- Fit for role

  • Outline your qualifications/competencies and match them to the requirements of the position.
  • Provide specific and relevant achievements to demonstrate fit for the role (use bullet points for emphasis)

¶4- Next Step

  • Include a brief paragraph that indicates what action will come next.
  • Make known your availability for an interview opportunity to discuss further.

Close by thanking the employer for their time and consideration and Signoff with ‘Yours Sincerely or Yours Faithfully’.

Finally, proofread more than once! Double check for grammatical or spelling errors! Assume the role of the hiring Manager!

Do not second-guess whether the cover letter will be read or not. Do the needful and maximize every opportunity to get your dream job.


 

COVER LETTER WRITING

Let’s write a cover letter for a candidate applying for a Territory Sales Manager role with the job description below;

Territory Sales Manager Job Description (Ref: #2305)

The territory sales manager is responsible for all managing all sales activities within a defined geographical territory.

Job Responsibilities;

  • Building the business within the territory using a variety of sales techniques.
  • Targeting potential customers and assessing opportunities for sales.
  • Arranging meetings with potential customers and selling product offerings.
  • Cold calling companies within the territory and establishing needs.
  • Putting together a list of target companies within the area.
  • Analyzing competitor activities in the region and assessing opportunities for business development.
  • Working to revenue targets and KPI’s as set by the sales director.
  • Networking with businesses in the territory and building relationships.
  • Attending relevant industry events and conferences to build business.
  • Chasing sales leads from other members of the company.
  • Working closely with other territory sales manager’s and national account managers.
  • Putting together sales strategies to target large accounts.
  • Keeping up to date with industry news to identify opportunities for new business.

Qualification/Requirements; 

  • Previous experience working as a territory sales manager.
  • Relevant industry background gained from a competitor or company in a related industry.
  • Excellent people skills and an ability to build relationships with people at all levels.
  • Proven track record of building business and hitting sales targets.

 

THE COVER LETTER

Cover Letter- Sample

Job Search Strategy

Job Search Strategy

JOB SEARCH STRATEGY

Every job seeker falls into one or more of these categories;

  • Actively seeking employment
  • Currently employed, seeking better opportunities
  • Looking for a career change
  • Trying to test the job market

Notwithstanding the category, we are all in the search for that dream job, especially for those who are not entrepreneurs.

It’s no news that some people get jobs as soon as they graduate or ready for it. Some call it luck, favour, connection and so on. But the other reality is that some actually labour and toil before getting their dream job.

No matter how difficult or how tight the job market is, people are getting jobs and some are changing jobs day in day out.

At this juncture, we need to Stop! Think! Evaluate! the efficiency of our method of job searching and opt for an effective method.

Here are few strategies to consider;

1. Planning:

You need to invest time and energy into job searching and treat it as a real 8-5pm job. It won’t be a bad idea to have a weekly plan and dedicate 3-4days of the week to job search.

Don’t just apply for every available vacancy, it is important to have a target, focus on a particular area and stick to it.

I quite understand that the struggle is real but, if you are asked what you can do in terms of job, don’t say ‘any job’. You need to have a plan and be focussed.

Job hunting without a focus is tantamount to shooting in the dark with no target in mind. Be focussed and Be Specific!

Every job seeker need to ask himself-

Who is my target audience? Who do I want to attract?

Recruiters from which industry?

Which company do I want to work for? And in what capacity?

Here is the list of industries to choose from;

  • Accounting/Audit/Tax
  • Administration & Office Support
  • Agriculture/Farming;
  • Banking/Finance/Insurance
  • Beauty/Fashion
  • Building Design/Architecture
  • Construction
  • Consulting/Business Strategy & Planning
  • Creatives (Arts, Design, Fashion)
  • Customer Service/Call Centre
  • E-commerce
  • Education/Teaching/Training
  • Engineering
  • Healthcare/Pharmaceutical
  • Hospitality/Leisure/Travels
  • Human Resources
  • IT/Web Developers/Programmers
  • Legal
  • Logistics/Transportation
  • Manufacturing/Production
  • Marketing/Advertising/Communications
  • Media
  • NGO/Community Services/Humanitarian
  • Oil & Gas /Mining/Energy
  • Project/Programme Management
  • Quality Assurance & Quality Control/HSE
  • Real Estate/Property
  • Research
  • Retail/Wholesale
  • Sales/Business Development
  • Supply Chain/Procurement
  • Telecommunications
  • Trade and Services
  • Others

Make a list of the industries you would like to work for and specific companies under each?

Strategy:

Don’t wait until jobs are advertised on job boards or social media. Visit career page of your desired companies, search and apply for relevant roles. You can also subscribe for job alerts (if available).

Follow your desired companies on Social Media- Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and so on. This is necessary in order to keep updated about relevant news or events, not just job vacancies.

2. Networking:

Leave your comfort zone and network with people. Don’t be shy to let acquaintances know that you are open to new job opportunities but please don’t bore them with job request. Just because a friend/relative has a company does not mean he/she must hire, you can mention it and ask for referrals.

You can join professional associations and be active. Build relationship with professionals and participate in intellectual discussions. Always be prepared to maximize every opportunity.

Prepare and practice your ‘Elevator Pitch’ also known as ‘Elevator Speech’ as many times as possible. You can practice in front of a mirror or a friend.

You never can say, there might be an opportunity to market yourself or to discuss the values you can add. You need to make a first great impression.

“An elevator speech is a clear, brief message or “commercial” about you. It communicates who you are, what you’re looking for and how you can benefit a company or organization. It’s typically about 30 seconds, the time it takes people to ride from the top to the bottom of a building in an elevator. (The idea behind having an elevator speech is that you are prepared to share this information with anyone, at anytime, even in an elevator.)” SOURCE: http://sfp.ucdavis.edu

3. Compelling CV/ Résumé:

No matter how archaic you think the idea of a CV is, some hiring companies/managers still see it as an initial tool for assessing applicant’s fit for a role.

Is your CV up to date? Is your CV just a list of your work history and not compelling enough to convince recruiter that you can do the job you are applying for?

It is not just how your CV looks on its own but how it looks or how it stands out in comparison to others. I believe that a well-written CV/ Résumé should earn you a right to an interview.

You can turn your CV into an effective marketing tool by spending time to develop it and making it competitive.

Therefore, it is time to look at your CV from the recruiter’s perspective. If you were a potential employer would you hire ‘YOU’ based on your current CV?

Don’t make your CV look like an obituary, spice it up with active verbs Must Use- CV Active Verbs

 

4. Advert-Targeted Cover Letter:

Cover Letter can also be referred to as Application Letter.

Your Cover Letter should be tailored towards the relevant terminology, keywords and phrases in the job description. This is necessary in order to present you in the most effective way possible, by showcasing your skills and the value that you can bring to an employer.

If you are applying for a vacancy that request for just CV/ Resume, it is advisable to copy and paste your cover letter as the body of the mail.

5. Effective Use of LinkedIn:

It is startling that you would meet an upwardly mobile jobseeker and then you realize he is not on LinkedIn!!

Linkedin is a social networking site for professionals. It has over 1million members in Nigeria and over 200million users globally. Hundreds of thousands of recruiters are using LinkedIn to source, search and hire candidates. In addition, hundreds of jobs are advertised on LinkedIn on a daily basis. It is therefore crucial to keep your LinkedIn profile updated and attractive to recruiters.

Signing up for LinkedIn is free and it gives you a platform to position yourself for opportunities as well as connect and network with hiring managers/decision makers in various organizations across the globe.

If you want to increase your chances of finding jobs, then it’s time to be active on LinkedIn.

How to Search for Jobs On Linkedin;

  1. You will find a tab ‘Jobs’ on the top navigation on your LinkedIn home page.
  1. Click on Jobs.
  2. Add keywords related to the jobs you are interested in, such as job title, keywords, or company name, and Location
  3. Click Find Jobs.

OR

  1. Click Discover to access new job postings.

When you view a job posting, you’ll see the following options:

  • Apply ‘on the company website
  • Save (and apply later)

For those jobs where you apply directly through LinkedIn, your profile will be forwarded when you apply. There could be an option to add a cover letter.

Update Job Preferences on LinkedIn:

You can set your job preferences by clicking the Preferences tab on the far right.

  • LinkedIn will automatically recommend the right jobs to you.
  • It also gives you the opportunity to let recruiters know that you are open to new jobs.
  • You also can indicate the type of job you are considering and at the same time ‘Share your profile’ with recruiters.

6. Job Application:

It is mandatory that you have a good understanding of the job responsibilities and requirements. Please apply for roles you are qualified for.

Make sure you follow all the instructions given when submitting your employment applications.

If it requires sending a CV and/or Cover letter as an attachment via an email, please ensure you use the right or required format.

  • Cross check the mail address.
  • Proofread the mail before sending and ensure that the documents are attached.
  • If the attachment is large, please put in a zip file.
  • By default, you should use your name as the title of the CV or Cover Letter attachment unless otherwise stated. E.g.
    • CV-Chinwe Aduke Mohammed
    • Cover letter- Chinwe Aduke Mohammed
  • Make the job title or Reference No (if applicable) as the subject of the mail. E.g.
    • SUBJECT:Re: Application for Human Resources Manager (Ref: #34089)
  • Do not forward the mail you have sent to another recruiter and if you must do so, please edit and avoid leaving a mail trail.

Always remember your e-mail etiquette!!

7. Job Tracker:

It won’t be a bad idea to keep tabs on all your job applications. You can create a job tracker using excel worksheet or any other app. Keep updating the status of each application and indicate necessary action.

In Conclusion;

Many jobseekers are frustrated due to unsuccessful job applications, failed interview, broken promises etc. This is not the time to throw a pity-party, it is time to change your ‘job-search’ strategy and take charge of your career.

At the same time, we cannot over emphasize the need to develop yourself while job hunting- WORK GAP

Dear Applicant,

Dear Applicant,

DEAR APPLICANT: This letter is borne out of a typical recruiter’s experience with applicants.

As a recruiter, one of your responsibilities is to hire not only the best candidate but the best culturally fit for the company. There have been days of excitement and days of disappointments…you have roles to fill but no qualified applicants.

 

Dear Applicant…

Recruiters put job descriptions and responsibilities together in order to attract qualified candidates for specific roles.

Most often than not, when applicants see job vacancy they believe it is just a propaganda that the hiring company has identified candidate for the role already.

Another mindset is that one cannot get a job without being referred by an insider. So, CV or Résumé is just a ruse. Therefore, they refuse to spend quality time writing a winning CV.

This might not be true in all cases, so please, take all genuine job adverts seriously and prepare accordingly.

 

Dear Applicant…

Stop applying for jobs you are not qualified for…..

For a recruiter, there is nothing as frustrating as receiving over 300 CVs for a particular role and only 5% are qualified for the job.

Most applicants don’t even bother to read job description, responsibilities and requirements. These set of applicants just keep applying for every vacancy that crossed their path. When I say any, I mean ANY and EVERY VACANCY!!!

Do not make it a hobby to apply for roles you are not qualified for, else you will be frustrated and think the job is for the recruiters’ cronies.

I have seen quite a number of entry-level candidates applying for Executive level roles that require 10-15years experience!

You need to be strategic in your job search.

 

Dear Applicant…

If you are interested in vacancies that exist in a different state from your state of residence, please include alternative address on your CV showing a nearby address. Location/proximity is one of the determining factor for short listing candidates.

(Exception to this if the hiring company is ready to provide accommodation)

Likewise, if you are applying for job outside your country of residence, please indicate your interest to relocate.

Dear Applicant…

For experienced professional, you have a slim chance of being shortlisted for the role you know nothing about, unless you show certain level of competence.

Therefore, if you are switching career, there is need to lay emphasis on your relevant transferable skills communication, team work, leadership, analytical and so on.

N:B; How to gain experience in the newly found career? You can volunteer with a friend/colleague with expertise in the field (during vacation), take up relevant online courses or get relevant professional certifications.

Dear Applicant…

Your CV is a marketing tool that shows what you can offer a potential employer and a well written CV should earn you the right to an interview. However, the onus is on you to spend time in developing it. Don’t leave it to chance.

It is often not advisable to have a one-size fits all CV/Résumé. Your CV should be tailored to each role.

Do not be in a hurry to submit your CV without proof-reading. Watch out for incomplete info such as; contact details, dates etc.

Avoid the temptation to exaggerate or falsify your information or work history. Most times it can come back to haunt.

Use a generally accepted format when attaching CVs- Ms Word or PDF. Some applicants attach CV in a zip or password protected format. This is an extra work/challenge that a recruiter is not willing take on.

We cannot over emphasize the fact that candidate should only apply for roles that match their profile and should not expect miracles if they act otherwise. In case you are wondering, Yes! I believe in miracles.

It is equally imperative to work on your LinkedIn profile. Most recruiters shortlist and recruit via LinkedIn.

Dear Applicant…

It’s still a mystery that candidates will apply for a role, he will be invited for interview, the candidate will confirm availability but will not show up for the interview without giving any reason or prior notice. This is totally unprofessional.

If you won’t be available for any reason or you have lost interest or you will be running late, please relate to the recruiter or hiring company.

Dear Applicant…

We agree you need to ask question and get all the facts right before attending an interview, but please write down all your questions and ask the recruiter once. Don’t make it a duty to keep calling every hour asking questions after questions. It doesn’t matter how many times you repeat…

’I’m sorry to bother you’

Dear Applicant…

If you are submitting any hard copy documents during the recruitment process, it will be appropriate to have it well-arranged and neatly packaged.

Please don’t present oil-stained, crumpled or partly torn documents. Even if you feel remorseful.

Dear Applicant…

Every job interview opportunity is one step away from being hired. Maximize it. Prepare effectively.

Don’t come for an interview unprepared. Please don’t chew gums during the interview. Dress appropriately. Maintain eye contact. Be punctual.

If you are not fluent in English or the language of communication, please work on yourself, enrol for Language classes and learn. Remember, you are not the only candidate for the role.

It’s okay to ask questions like;

When should I expect feedback? What do you look out for in an ideal candidate for this role? What is the next step in the interview process? Etc.

Avoid question like;

What’s the company into? – You are expected to have done your research beforehand.

Dear Applicant…

Under no circumstance should you badmouth your former boss.

Yours Sincerely,

 The Recruiter

 

 

Read Dear Recruiter’s Letter  HERE  Dear Recruiter,

Must Use- CV Active Verbs

Must Use- CV Active Verbs

Use active verbs to spice up your CV or Résumé. It is not enough to list job descriptions or job responsibilities on your CV, what will help you create a positive impression and stand out among other applicants is….

…using appropriate active verbs to highlight evidence of your outstanding performance and its impact on the overall business objectives of your employer….

Avoid using passive voice in your CV, it downplays your expertise and capability to effectively handle the role.

Below is an example of achievement in passive/active voice

Passive Voice: In charge of restructuring of loan and recovering criticized assets during remediation exercise. In which 35% was recovered out of the criticized assets and 60% of non-performing loans. 

Active Voice: Spearheaded assets remediation exercise for the recovery of 35% criticized assets and restructuring of 65% non-performing loans.

 You will agree with me that the achievement in active voice is more compelling and captivating.

Beginning accomplishment phrases with active verbs, does not only boost CV but it also, distinguishes key strengths and (measurable) achievements.

Examples;

SALES PROFESSIONAL-

  • Managed and supported major active distributors to achieve 141.5% increase in sales volume and 110% increase in revenue within 2years.
  • Drove aggressive sales which increased regional contribution to National sales from 10% to 65% within 1year.

 

 BRAND MANAGER-

  • Re-launched a major brand and attained 300% increase in sales volume within 6 months.
  • Drove brand profitability by achieving 33% growth in sales (from N6bn to N8bn) and 10% growth in revenue within 2 years.
  • Participated in the development and launch of new brand which increased category market share by 12% within 1year.

 

 FINANCE PROFESSIONAL-

  • Led a top-flight team that aggressively won high volume deposit accounts and achieved over 250% growth in the branch’s total deposit within 3 years.
  • Regularized various delinquent accounts in excess of N2.5billion and recovered over N265million loan.

 

 HR MANAGER-

  • Attained over 37% increase in employee engagement levels within 6 months.
  • Maintained a low 1% turnover rate through effective staff on boarding, and close monitoring of new joiners.

 

 SERVICE QUALITY MANAGER-

  • Recorded 200% increase in footfall ratio (which exceeded historical metrics) within 3 months through introduction of quality customer service.
  • Achieved a quantum leap of 65% increase in customer satisfaction rate within 18 months through effective training of customer service team.

 

 CV is a life document that should be updated on a regular basis. When next you are updating your CV, remember to liven it up with any of these active verbs;

 

a-c

 d-h

 i-qr-z