How to Write a Professional CV

How to Write a Professional CVWriting an interview-landing CV is a hard task for many. How do you write one that stands out from the many CVs human resource managers and recruiters receive when recruiting? An ultimate rule for CV writing is – be different and show your selling-point.

It’s worthy to note there’s is no one right format to write a CV. One rule you should note, however, is that your CV should be able to put you in the spotlight for the role you’re applying for, this will inform the HR manager or recruiters decision to invite you to an interview.

What is a CV?What is a CV

A curriculum vitae popularly known as CV is brief synopsis or account of your educational, professional experience, skills and more typically used for job applications.

There are 2 types of CVs – the educational CV and the experience focused type. The former focuses on educational/professional qualification and academic work and is usually for applicants who have no work experience while the latter focuses on professional experience, skills and achievements.

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Listing either educational or professional experience is best done by starting with them from most recent to oldest. It’s Important to always adapt your CV to a job industry and consistently tweak them for advertised job roles.

The CV Writing Format

1. Personal Detailspersonal details

This section consists of your name, address, age (not be compulsory), phone number, email. Put these in a strategic location and in legible fonts so that they can be easily seen by the HR manager or recruiter. Ensure the information provided are current.

Pro Tip: Never use an email that is not yours. Avoid stating your state of origin, religion (except if specified in the job advertorial) and unprofessional email addresses. Examples of this would be obiswag10@xyz.com or sexyprincess2015@xyz.com. Keep it professional.

2. Work Experiencework experience

Start with your most recent job role. For each job role, it’s important to state your role and achievements. An example would be:

Iceberg Communications Limited 2016 – (Present)

Job Title: Marketing Executive

Iceberg Limited is Nigeria’s number one marketplace for electrical home appliances.

Achievement:

  • Individually increased the monthly revenue from N15 million to N25 million in 6 months.
  • Worked with the marketing team to spread our products from Lagos to all the 6 states of the Western Nigeria within a year.
  • Won the ‘Salesman of the Year” award consecutively for November and December 2016.

Pro Tip: Always remember to tweak your job experience in line with what you are applying for. It will increase the employer’s preference for you.

3. Educationeducation

Always start with the most recent educational qualification. Professional certification that is relevant to the job should also be added to this section.

E.g. University of Port Harcourt – 2013

Qualification: B.A. History and International Relations.

  • Excellent diplomatic skills and versed in three foreign languages – French, Portuguese and Chinese
  • Graduated with a first class grade of 4.56 and won the ‘Best Graduating Student’ award.

Pro Tip: If you have a qualification from a tertiary institution, it’s unimportant to include your primary school first leaving certificate unless you’re a fresh graduate with no work experience. This section includes professional certifications, affiliations/membership, training and seminars; they can appear as a sub-section under education.

4. Interests and AbilitiesInterests and Abilities

This section should be kept short and simple. Key things to note here are:

  • Avoid clichés such as “creative” “motivated”, “team player”, “problem solve”, “self-starter.” Instead, be specific about your hobbies – Replace ‘running’ with ‘I jog about 300 km every weekend’. This shows you are disciplined and committed.

Pro Tip: Add interests that align with the prospective employer’s corporate social responsibility.

5. Referencesreferences

The standard number of referees is three, although some organisations request for two. The lesser the pages of a CV, the greater attention it receives. As an employer, you would not want to be bothered by CVs that look like handouts. A 2-page CV is excellent. Therefore, be direct, clear and convincing.

Pro Tip: “Never use a referee that you’re not familiar with and has knowledge of using them as referees,” – Prince Ihemegbulam, Jobberman CV Services Analyst pointed out.

Some Tips How to write a good CV

  1. Use active verbs wherever possible. For example, you could include words like ‘created’, ‘analysed’ and ‘devised’ to present yourself as a person who shows initiative.
  2. There should be no spelling or grammar mistakes in your CV. Use a spell checker and enlist a second pair of eyes to check over it.
  3. Avoid using generic phrases such as ‘team player’, ‘hardworking’ and ‘multitasker’. Instead, provide real-life examples that demonstrate all of these skills.
  4. Take a look at the company’s website, local press and the job advert to make sure that your CV is targeted to the role and employer.
  5. Decide whether the chronological, skills-based or academic CV is right for you. For more information, take a look at example CVs.
  6. Don’t put the term ‘Curriculum Vitae’ at the top of your CV.
  7. Provide a professional-sounding email address.
  8. Never lie or exaggerate on your CV or job application. Not only will you demonstrate your dishonesty to a potential employer, but there can be serious consequences too. For example, altering your degree grade from a 2:2 to a 2:1 is classed as degree fraud and can result in a prison sentence.
  9. If you’re posting your CV online don’t include your home address, as you could be targeted by fraudsters.
  10. You should always include a cover letter unless the employer states otherwise. It will enable you to personalise your application for the job. You can draw attention to a particular part of your CV, disclose a disability or clarify gaps in your work history. Find out how to write a persuasive cover letter.

Things Employers Look Out For

One survey of employers found that the following aspects were most looked for

(From the brilliant 2010 Orange County Resume Survey by Eric Hilden)

45% Previous related work experience
35% Qualifications & skills
25% Easy to read
16% Accomplishments
14% Spelling & grammar
9% Education (these were not just graduate recruiters or this score would be much higher!)
9% Intangibles: individuality/desire to succeed
3% Clear objective
2% Keywords added
1% Contact information
1% Personal experiences
1% Computer skills

So, there is it! Isn’t it time to give your CV another look? Another great way to get yourself an interview-landing CV is to get a CV Rewrite from recruitment professionals.

Website Comments

  1. Subair
    Reply

    Dear Princewill,
    Thanks the information, it is very relevant.
    In my case, I want to apply for a human resource position but I have no experience in that field as a fresh graduate. Also, I did studied economic education which has little correlation with human resource. Please how do I structure my CV to attract recruiters. Thanks

    • Princewill Akuma
      Reply

      Dear Subair,
      There are aspects of your education that is actually very relevant to Human Resources, hold onto this thought and i a few years you’ll know how. I’ll advise you find Human Resources training to develop other needed skills and find internship opportunities to start a great career ahead of you.
      Go and concur the HR world Subair, best regards.

  2. Adeleke
    Reply

    Dear Princewill,

    Thanks for the information.

    I have a degree in computer science (2006)and major in Database management . I want to apply for a job in database mgt but they request for some certification which i don’t have any professional cert. please advise can I still apply

    • Princewill Akuma
      Reply

      Hi Adeleke,
      If the request for some certification is consistent from different employers it maybe the professional certification is highly important if your field. I’ll advise you earn the certificate but more importantly the skill. However, if you have the skill and not yet the certificate, you’ll to prove this to the employer.
      Thanks

  3. Rossybee
    Reply

    Nice write up ,I really appreciate this.I have a concern actually, at the last paragraph, with the sub heading, some tips on how to write a CV, you said curriculum vitae shouldn’t be writing at the top of the resume.What then should be written,thanks

    • Princewill Akuma
      Reply

      Hello Rossybee, the document is known as a CV and there’s no need writing same. Your name in caps and large fonts but address, email and contact phone number in smaller letter and fonts are best suited for the top section. Best Regards

  4. Celestine Azonobi
    Reply

    Great tips Mr. Princewill, Thanks a lot.
    I’m going through a dilemma about choosing a career path, I am a B.Sc in Maths holder, all my experiences have been in the teaching/research field. But I want to move onto another career path… preferably Data Analysis…is there any professional certification for that in Nigeria?

    • Princewill Akuma
      Reply

      Hello Celestine, it’s interesting to learn you have a plan. Kindly email learning@jobberman.com and speak to a professional consultant on available courses and certification for Data Analysis. See you at the top.

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