If you’ve written a CV for a job application, you’ll find that it can sometimes feel like a herculean task, especially for freshers. Because when you search online, you’ll see thousands of articles on CV writing, some with conflicting views which then add to the confusion.

If you, however, follow the six tips below, 99% of your sweat would be cleaned.

Let’s take a quick dive into what makes good CVs.

  1. It reads well; it flows smoothly.

Outstanding CVs or resumes must be well-organised and appealing to the eyes in terms of the layout and formatting. To achieve this, you should leave lots of white space. The names of the organisations you worked for should be bold and the job titles in italics; then the job details should be in bullets. Use any of the modern fonts such as Georgia, Merriweather, Constantia, Calibri, and Gill Sans to increase the aesthetics of your CV. Avenir, Helvetica, Arial, or Geneva are the other choice fonts.

Remarkable CVs feel as if it’s “saying less” as against average CVs that “say too much.”

So, if you can, make it one-page; however, two-page CVs are still acceptable when you have, say, a decades’ experience.

  1. They leave no career gaps unexplained

Top CVs indicate progression from the latest to the earliest job roles. If you, however, worked before 2007, nowadays, it’s advisable to list such jobs as EARLIER WORKING EXPERIENCE, and ignore the dates to avoid age bias. E.g., say

 Earlier Working Experience
Co-Founder and Consultant, Red Ross Associates, Lagos, Nigeria
Economics Tutor, St. Patrick’s College, Lagos, Nigeria
Lecturer, University of Lagos, Nigeria

Nothing is wrong with a gap of one or two months moving between jobs, and however, if you have three or more months of gaps in your CV, you should explain why the gap exists (explain the gaps right where it occurs!).

The following are some good reasons to state: also, reasonable if you left jobs too soon (i.e., job-hopping):

  1. June 2018 – December 2018- Relocated to the USA and obtained citizenship. Now, do not require any sponsorship to work in America
  2. Left former job by choice (eligible for rehire) to care for ill family member until they passed 13 months later.
    (IMPLICATION: you won’t need to keep asking for off periods going back to care for them any longer!)
  3. Took A 5-year break from paid work to raise a family
    For short stint jobs, always write A CONTRACT ROLE, when it was a contract job. Everyone will know that contract jobs are short by nature.
  4. Position eliminated due to layoffs of 30% of workers
  5. Employment ended when funding ran out
  6. Left role and relocated to Lagos for my wife to take up her new job.
  1. Don’t state only responsibilities without mentioning accomplishments.

It’s your accomplishments that would win you interviews, not responsibilities you held; because any Tom, dick, and Harry knows how to list the duties that he performed. So, don’t say, “Managed staff”, instead say, “Managed a team of 20 that consistently outperformed other departments in lead generation, deal size, and overall satisfaction (based on our culture survey).” Don’t say, “Developed and trained sales team”, rather say,” Developed and trained sales team on new lead generation process that increased total leads by 10% in 5 months, resulting in 3 new deals worth £4.5 Million.”

Remember, however, that any accomplishments you stated must be able to withstand further scrutiny because when an experienced recruiter invite you for an interview, they’ll most likely probe more to know whether those accomplishments would have still been realised without you. So, before you write down an accomplishment, ask yourself, “was I the critical factor?”

  1. No lies in your CV, please!

Avoid like a person would avoid leprosy any temptations to state outright lies in your CV because lies may get you the job, but it would also cost you the job later when it’s uncovered as lies can’t hide forever.

Make your stated accomplishments believable by including your LinkedIn profile where you can further clarify them and include your personal website or blog where there’s any.

Brand yourself wisely; feel free to embellish occasionally, but don’t be caught lying outrightly or stating any accomplishments that sound larger than life.

  1. Deploy action verbs and industry keywords; avoid clichés

Everyone is tired of the usual

“I have excellent interpersonal skills.”

“I am a team player.”

“I am hardworking.”

“I am creative.”

“I am ambitious.”

Rather than ‘saying’, “I am creative”, ‘show’ by stating where your creativity was exemplified, for example, “I modelled the framework that was used in designing the University of Bready’s senate building.”

Research your industry keywords and use those in your CV (e.g., for an accountant, instead of writing, “Knows Microsoft Excel”, show what unique skills you have in Excel by stating for example, “Use Vlookup, Hlookup, Dashboard, Conditional Formatting, and VBA to simplify tasks and save time.”

  1. Job-winning CVs come via referrals

This is the deal-breaker. If you can get an insider or someone respected by the decision-maker(s) to refer your CV, this alone can win you an interview.

You can get a referral by connecting with staff of the organisation on LinkedIn, add value to the persons (See how to add value here – http://bit.ly/2KoNgBi) and then ask whether they can refer you.

Over to you! Act on these tips today, and you’ll be next in line!!