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Best Way To Write a Winning Curriculum Vitae

A Curriculum Vitae, popularly referred to as CV is a written account of one’s educational background, work experience, achievements, accomplishments, publications, etc; typically used to apply for a job. CV is used interchangeably with Résumé, however, a Resume is a much more summarized version or a synopsis of one’s progress from academics to work environment.

When a job opening appears, trust that a thousand and one people will send in their CV for appraisal. From this large number of people, only a few will eventually be called for an exam or interview, or both. Common sense tells you that the hiring company does not know the individuals applying for such position. Hence, the only tool that speaks for you, as an applicant, is your CV. Thus, you have to make sure that it speaks in proper language and it is audible enough.

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Through time, various ”magic methods” have been developed by ”experts” to guarantee your CV’s success. They claim that certain rules have to be followed and certain criteria must be met before your CV is ready for the job market. While I seriously frown at these tacts, adaptation has made it tremendously irrational to ignore these said criteria. The reason is simple.

Hiring companies might in law, be regarded as separate entities or individuals on their own right, but in all truth, it is human beings that operate these businesses, institutions, or parastatals. Hence, these people have at one point or the other, had to go through what you are going through now.

It is from people in organizations that a few will be selected to assess your CV, set exam questions and conduct interviews. Even if a third party recruitment firm is involved, it is still human beings that once had to go through job search, that would do these chores.

This goes a long way to tell you that most of the people that would be assessing your CV, actually pay attention to these criteria for a perfect CV. Apart from the fact that they have grown to believe in it, it also saves time. Once a CV does not appear right, they fling it into the other box, and pick a new one to assess. You don’t want your CV to be flinged to the other box, do you? Of course you don’t.

Best Way To Write a Winning Curriculum Vitae


– The Two Seconds Rule
The Two Seconds Rule has been defined by so many people in different ways, according to their judgement of what it should be. However, the underlying point remains the same.

After 2 seconds of looking at your CV, what does your potential employer do? What does your CV tell him/her?

The 2 seconds rule helps you properlly design your CV in a way that a quick glance at it will tell your potential employer all he wants to learn about you at that moment. But you should know that how you design your CV, in following the 2 seconds rule, is very subjective. Most potential employers, human resource officers, recruitment firms, etc, have very little patience while going through CVs. So you basically have roughly Two seconds to pass your message through your Resume. Your CV has to tell your potential employer that you meet the requirements for that job.

*Part 1 in CV Writing:

.. What is a CV?
Knowing what a CV means, apart from it’s definition, will help you know how to construct your CV. A CV is a document that summarizes your past and existing professional skills and experience. It shows that you meet the requirements and have adequate skills necessary for the job you are applying for. You are basically selling yourself to the company without any visual contact.

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.. What Does a CV contain?
– your educational background and qualification
– your work experience
– your skills (or skill set)
– your accomplishments and achievements
– your references
– other information

*Part 2 in CV Writing

– Gathering Information for your CV

This is a very important part of the whole process. I’ve listed the information that should be contained in a CV. Now it is time to gather these information. The first thing you should know is that you cannot send the same CV for every job.

Therefore, you should have what I call a ”pool CV”. A pool CV, is what I will describe as the entirety of information concerning your progress in life, arranged intelligently. Your contact information is first. Your name, address, email and phone number(s).

Then you should list out all the schools you’ve attended and the qualifications you graduated with. Then list out all the places you’ve worked and the nature of work you did in each place.

Also list your accomplishments and achievements – Probably at your place(s) of work, in your academics, or of other nature, such as community development or of religious nature. You should also make a list of your interests.

Remember, this is a pool CV, so you can list as many interests as you like. Finally, make a list of references. Your references should be people that you have worked with or have worked with you and can attest to your behaviour and skill. It might be your professors in school, or your previous employer. Some people use members of the clergy.

Part 3 in CV Writing

– What you should NOT include in your CV.

There are certain things that you should never include in your CV, unless they were specifically required. These things might limit your chances because of the bias of prejudice of the people assessing your CV.

.. You should never include your age, unless it was specifically requested for. You don’t want your potential employer thinking ”he is too young for the job”, or ”he is too old”.

.. Try as much as possible to not include your religion, unless you have reason to believe that it can significantly boost your chances.

.. Do not include your failures in life. Even if you want to chip in something of this nature, make sure you know how to make it look like a strength, and not a weakness.

.. This might not be as solid as the other three up there, but do not include your relationship status.

.. Do not include too many irrelevant information. Remember, what might be relevant here, might not be relevant there. So know what is what.

.. Do not include a referee or reference without informing them first. Make sure you confirm that their contact information is still valid, and that they still remember you. The hiring company might contact these people to make enquiries.

* Part 4 in CV Writing.

– Writing CV proper/ Format

Since the CV is a very important part of job hunt, you should put in sufficient work to make it look good. Like I mentioned earlier, you cannot send the same CV for different jobs, unless they are of the same nature. That is why I introduced the pool CV. Your pool CV should be in soft copy too, and saved somewhere safe online. At this stage, you should also have a Format CV. The last type of CV that I will introduce to you is the Work CV. So we have:

– Pool CV
– Format CV
– Work CV

A format CV should be written as if you are applying for your dream job. Here, you just have to take relevant information out of your pool CV and construct a normal precise CV. This is your format CV. Then whenever a job opening comes, all you have to do is to open your Format CV and adjust it to suit the nature of the current job that you are applying for. How do you adjust?

You just have to take away irrelevant information from your Format CV and replace them with relevant information from your Pool CV. Recall that what is relevant is subjective. It depends on the job you are applying for. If you have an interest in music and celebrities for example, you should include this for a job that involves the entertainment industry.

However, it becomes irrelevant when you are applying for a bank job. When you are done with the reshaping of your format CV to suit the new job, it becomes a work CV. This is the one you are to forward to your potential employer.

– Format
You should first write your name in bold letters at the top centre of the page. Your contact information should come below it, at the top left and any other secondary address can come in at the top right.

.. Now create a portion for your academic qualification. List the schools you’ve attended, the year period, and your qualification from each school. A reverse chronological order is usually advised. This means that you should start from your most recent school and go down till your first school.

Secondly, leave a paragraph and create a portion for your work qualification. Also in reverse chronology. From your last work place to your first work place. If you have no work experience, mention activities that you have participated in, volunteer jobs, positions held, etc.

Leave a paragraph and create a section for your accomplishments and achievements. Then your interests should come in below that. Remember not to include interests that could elicit prejudice.

Then you can include a section for other information that you think are relevant to the job. After this, you should list your references. Names, contact address, email addresses, and phone numbers are all that are important. You could however include where they work or represent.

Part 5 in CV Writing

– Finishing Touches

This is the point where you go through what you have done and check for errors. Check for spelling errors and include punctuation where necessary. Proof read and probably give a friend or family member to help out too.

There is no standard way to write a CV, but some things have to be in check.
– Make sure that your CV does not go beyond 2 pages.
– Make sure your name stands out in larger font. (Not too large)
– Make sure that your first page grabs your educational qualification, work experience and achievements.
– Make sure your CV is written in a positive tone. Be very honest, but don’t include unnecessary things that might discredit you.
– If a Cover Letter is required, make your cover letter brief as possible and state why you feel you are qualified for the job. It serves as an intro to your CV.

Read Also: How to Write a CV In Nigeria; 7 Key Facts to Note

I hope this was helpful.

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Eric Arthur

Arthur is a Content Developer at InfoGuideNIgeria.com. InfoGuide Nigeria is a team of Resource Persons and Consultants led by Ifiokobong Ibanga. Page maintained by Ifiokobong Ibanga. If you need a personal assistance on this topic, kindly contact us.

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