How to Write a Curriculum Vitae (CV)
A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is an important document. It should be prepared properly with an expert, and every job seeker and applicant must learn to prepare one professionally because it tells prospective employers about your ability, education, experience, interests and attitudes.
Employers want to know you better. They want to know what you can do and how they can help you in case of inefficiencies in some skills, so that they can offer you a job. It is therefore advisable to keep employers in mind when preparing your documents.
Your CV is your weapon to use to win yourself a job and face the challenges of employers. It is important to know your CV in a detailed manner and be able to defend it during Interviews. Prospective employers may ask you detailed questions about things you have listed on your CV.
Presenting your CV in a good format makes a difference. This often determines whether you will get a job or not. It also tells the employer areas you will need training in before you are allowed to touch their tools.
The reason many people do not get as far as a job interview is because of a poor letter of application or a carelessly written CV. They also need to know how to conduct themselves during the interview.
Writing a CV well, writing a winning cover letter, and good interview techniques are the main weapons every job seeker should be equipped with before leaving an institution of learning. With these three things one has an excellent chance to get a job.
We can summarize the qualities of a good C.V in three words:
Brevity Simplicity Clarity
The quality of your CV wins you a job. It is therefore important to make it brief, easy and readable, well written and arranged in a comprehensive manner.
Some curriculum vitaes have a paragraph at the beginning. It summarizes how one views himself or herself. For example: “I am a dedicated lawyer who works equally well as part of a team or by using my independent initiative. My strengths include: attention to detail, results driven, creative thinking, and effective organization skills.”
The above summarizing paragraph should be written with lots of care. This is because you want your prospective employer to appreciate your skills and yet not think you are a proud and boastful, or someone who exaggerates their abilities.
The CV should contain a lot of information relevant to a job application. It should give a prospective employer a comprehensive look at the skills of the applicant.
Update your CV every time you apply for a job, keeping in mind the required skills stated in the job advertised.
The prospective employer should see what he wants in your CV. It should not be an overly colorful presentation that you are not able to substantiate and defend if you are offered a job.
There is no permanently prepared CV. Your document should be updated according to the requirement of each new job applied for, newly achieved status, title and certification or roles you have gained so far. I personally recommend job seekers to learn how to prepare their own CV. Hire a professional to teach you how to prepare one so that you are able to update it every time you apply for a job. If it is too expensive to hire a professional to update your CV every time you apply for a new job, learn to prepare your own. A CV is your personal selling document for a job and therefore you must to learn how to produce one.
Applying for a job means you prepare and submit a standard CV and a letter of application. Never send a CV alone. The letter of application, or cover letter, should be extracted from the content of the curriculum vitae.
The CV should be comprehensive and should not be too short. The maximum length would be less than three pages. Remember readers of your CV are very busy people. They need to grasp the content of your CV as quickly as possible. Bear in mind that you are not the only job seeker; you need to make your CV outstanding.
Every Job seeker should remember the following creed: “When others are seated, remain standing. When others are standing, become outstanding. When all are outstanding, become the measure of standards.” This is the only way one can survive the competitive world we live in. Your CV should keep the reader involved with you in order to qualify you for the next stage, which is the Interview. I will give details on how to do an interview later on in this book.
The Main Sections of the Curriculum Vitae
PART ONE – Personal Data
The practice of writing a standard CV begins with personal data. In our multi-cultural society and with dialect differences it is important to research and understand the background of an employer, so that you avoid culture-shock when presenting your job application.
Family name and first name may be presented differently. In some nationalities all job communications begin with the family name. Some write the name in capital letters and others underline it. Therefore the nationality of the job seeker is significant. The job may be for nationals only or for a specific nationality. The reasons may differ from diplomatic relations, standards of education and level of languages, to a working permit to ascertain nationalities.
Another thing that is a must is the address. A contact address is a channel of communication between you as an applicant and your prospective employer. It is therefore crucial to provide your physical address, email address, home telephone number, mobile phone number, work telephone and, if applicable, fax address. These must to be clearly and correctly stated in the CV.
Details of your age, wife, husband, marital status, children and sex orientation are optional. You can provide these if the prospective employer requires or if it is one of the requirements in the job advertisement. For example, if the employer requires someone 35 years of age and you are 33 years and you possess all other qualifications, then there is no need to provide your age. It is better to risk not telling your age until the interview because the employer may decide to eliminate you because of your age. You have a good chance of impressing them during the interview rather than being blocked right away. If you are within the age bracket required by employer then state your age bracket.
The reason why age is not important to state in your CV is that an employer may be your age or an older person who prefers working with either people of their age, older or younger than them. This may discriminate you during their sorting of the applicants, which is not good. It is better that your skills speak for you instead of your marital status, age, religion or race. It is better to add your ‘date of birth’ if possible, rather than to write out your age.
It is advisable to mention your sex if it is not obvious from your name. For example, girls sometimes use their father’s names when they first register in national exams as their surname or family name.
State your nationality and passport/ID number if appropriate.
Some jobs require married employees. It is then important for you to state your marital status. Mention your marital status if needed; what the employer state in the job advertisement is necessary and so provide it. It is better if the employer gets all he or she needs in your CV than having to wait to question you on the interview day. Employers should get all answers from your CV which is the only way an employer knows you have really paid attention to the details.
PART TWO – Education and Qualifications
This part should be arranged in a chronological order starting with recently achieved qualifications. Begin with the highest level of education acquired. For example: Doctorate, Masters, Bachelors, Diploma, A-level and then 0-level.
College and courses attended as a mature student should be included in a chronological order. Qualifications obtained at evening classes, part time studies and correspondence courses should be included as it makes you an outstanding candidate for the position applied for. These qualifications add credit to your CV.
If you are applying for a job immediately after high school or college without any work experience, it is better to include grades achieved at each level. Once you have been working for a while, sometimes it is sufficient enough to just list the qualifications obtained since the age of 13. This list reduces as you go up the ladder to a high level of education. If you are a high school diploma holder, have a primary certificate or other levels worthy a mention; be sure to add them in your list. If you have never had work experience then even your grades earned should be shown. PHD and Master’s Degree holders should list up to high school qualification, the high school diploma in some countries, and A-Level courses in others.
Clarity and neatness is required for easy readability and to inform the prospective employer that you are an organized person and that given a job you will deliver.
Most employers are interested in positions held during high school years, clubs and responsibility awards won, sports and work experience. Some organizations even have their own football clubs. You will have better chance of getting employed if you can offer a bright football expertise to their clubs.
Employers are also keen to assess projects you previously initiated and their results, whether the project is still alive or has been abandoned and why. They also will seek to know some of your published books, articles papers and research. All these should be stated briefly under the section called “other qualifications”.
PART THREE – Current Employment and Work Experience
The best practice is to put the most recent employment at the beginning. This is to help the reader to know what you are doing at present. The reader will grow with interest wanting to know what you were doing before that. This practice enables the reader to skim through without reading detailed data but gain up-to-date information when the CV is long. It is important to state information that is quickly identified at first sight. Work experience should be brief and accurately stated.
It is important to state the name of the organization, position held and the dates. This takes the readers five seconds to comprehend. Every position held will then follow with a brief summary of duties and responsibilities.
PART FOUR – Professional Associations/ Memberships
Being a member of a professional association tells the employer that you are interested in whatever you do. These associations update members about new trends and developments in the field. They urge members to attend conferences; some even discipline and professionally certify their members. For example: the law society of Kenya withdraws a practicing license if one does not adhere to their code of ethics. Therefore having a practicing license from such body gives the employer trust and confidence in you and knowledge that you are a responsible professional.
The employer can also track your records from your professional association without asking you for them. Employers trust applicants who belong to a professional organization and such applicants have higher chances of getting employed.
PART-FIVE – Summary of Skills
Some writers skip this section or include it in “other qualifications” sections. In some CVs it is termed as ‘qualification number two’, but it is good to have this section just after the “professional memberships” and before “interests” is listed. Examples of skills employers look for are:
- Excellent communication
- Good computing skills
- Exceptional reporting skills
- Camera and photography knowledge
- Effective organizational ability
- Results driven
- Attention to detail
These skills are usually stated as required in the job advertisement. It is advisable to briefly state them in the CV and also in the cover letter. Applicants should provide skills he or she is able to prove if required to by the employer. For example: just stating “computing skills” or “able to find computer documents and files” and then the employer finds that you cannot even turn on the computer will be embarrassing, and the employer might conclude that you lied.
PART SIX – Personal Interests
You have to state one or two of your personal interests such as hobbies or sports. Avoid listing all your interests and hobbies because the employer may then wonder when you actually have time to work. Interests, hobbies, and sports tell an employer more about you. Listing these helps to demonstrate your organization skills and tells whether you are a team player or not. If you are the treasurer of a local club, member of a charity organization, school prefect or head girl or head boy, chairman of the wildlife club, a Girl Guide or scout, or have other responsibilities, is an indication that you are a responsible and industrious person.
PART SEVEN – References
Choose references who know you well. Put their names, physical address, email address, and telephone number. List each reference separately at the end of your CV.
It is advisable to ask the references for their permission before you write down their names.
Three references are required: one educational, one professional and one personal. The references should know you well and on a personal level. Each of the three should be persons of outstanding authority in a company, an institution, or your community or society. Some organizations prefer religious leaders as Pastors, Imams, or Bishops, etc.
The reference should have known you for at least two years.
How to Draft Your Curriculum Vitae
There is no need to write Curriculum Vitae on top of the first pages of your CV; the appearance alone tells an employer it is a CV.
- Name and Address. Name Surname/Family Name in Capital Letters. (Some people underline but bold type is enough)
Address: Postal Address/Physical address
Mobile Phone (should be in bold type and lower case)
2. Personal Details.
Your Sex: If not easily identified from your name.
Date of Birth (D.O.B.) in full form
Nationality (passport/ID, if appropriate)
3. Education background/qualification, Schools, Colleges and University attended.
Put qualifications achieved in chronological order. Don’t forget colleges attended as a mature student or qualifications obtained at part time studies, correspondent studies, or evening classes.
4. Work experience/employment.
If you are straight from school or college, provide the responsibilities you held at the community level or clubs in school or college. For example, if you are applying for a sales job and you have been assisting in patent selling, that is an experience employers will want to know about. It is also importance to emphasize your social skills and how you can deal with people and whether you understand the type of job you have applied for.
For appointments held, start with the job title, name of employer, date of employment, and a brief summary of duties involved. Remember to be brief and not too detailed.
Emphasizing responsibilities completed is very significant as are highlights of personal achievements and promotions. These should be arranged in a chronological order starting from the most recent. This gives the employer a view of your capability in case he or she is in a hurry. At the least, the employer will read the recent information or about the present job you are doing, and leave the rest.
5. Memberships / Professional Associations.
It is important to belong to professional associations or clubs. This could include: journalist associations, lawyers associations, doctors associations or a surveyor association. Listing these will give the employer a reason to trust you as being a qualified person. Identifications or recommendations from these bodies prove that you are licensed to practice, or sufficiently qualified.
(Note) Do not lie. You can omit this part if it is not appropriate to you.
Do not list all interests. Provide one or two. Listing interests invites questions demanding answers. If you list too many, the employer may wonder when you have time to attend all your listed hobbies. However, listing your main hobbies and interests will give an indication of some of your ideas, ability, and character.
7. Summary of Skills
Apart from academic qualifications there are important skills that boost your curriculum vitae. List them. You should not compile more than five. These are especially important if required in the field you’re seeking employment from.
- computing skills
- photography skills
- typing ability
Not every employer requires this part but if you’re asked to, do so. This is why it is important to update your Curriculum Vitae for every job you are applying. Read the requirement of the job and give exactly what is asked for in your CV.
Provide three educational, professional and personal references, if needed. Usually two or three are requested by the employer. Please give the employer what he or she wants, not what you think they want.
Cover Letter Format
Never submit your CV without a cover letter.
There are several good writing formats that can be used. I have included one example here. You can also do a general web search and find various sample letters with format models to use.
Use a 10 – 12 font size and a plain font style that is easy to read (Such as Calibri, Bookman, Palatino, Times Roman, Arial, Arial Narrow, or Tahoma). Do not use ‘bold’ type set or fancy fonts.
Email address/ (and fax number if appropriate)
(Skip One line)
Information about the person you are writing to.
Their job title
(Skip one line)
Salutation. Dear Sir, Dear Madam, or To Whom It May Concern.
RE: Title of the Job applied for
Paragraph One (single space each line/ add a space between each paragraph)
Tell about the job you’re applying for and where you heard about it.
Briefly provide your qualifications and experience relevant to the job you are applying for.
Tell the employer why you feel you quality for the job.
Explain how you can be easily contacted through email, mobile phone, home phone, or postal address; and when you are available for an interview.
Never write just a quarter of a page for a cover letter. Many will tell you that the letter should be short. I agree, however, it should not be shorter than one page and should not be longer than one and a half pages. Human resource personnel will not be able to tell what kind of a person you are if you cover letter is too brief.
The last thing in your cover letters is your closure; use:
Yours sincerely, or
(Then skip three lines)
Type your name. (You will then ‘sign’ your name on the finished letter below your closure)
Enclosure (Type this word if you plan to ‘enclose’ extra documents).
Cover Letter Example:
Allan Chan Allan
1102 Adam Street
June, 3, 2013
Mr. Dave Smith
Human Resource Manager
Kelex Communication, Ltd.
Dear Mr. Smith,
Re: Application for the position of public relations manager.
I am writing to apply for the above mentioned position advertised in the Daily Nation on March 4, 2013. My wish is to be considered for the position.
I am a graduate of the University of Nairobi with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication.
As I majored in public relations, I am familiar with a number of the public relation programs mentioned in your advertisement. This includes video publishing, working with the press, writing for radio and television, press relations, press media, photography exhibits, and conferences and budgeting. I have done a great number of similar projects and achieved exceptional results for the last three listed.
I have acquired the ability to work as a team member during my six month internship in mass media with PR International, and I am up to date with m-net for contract bases. I believe this together with my community work, gives me the background skill knowledge and experience you need, and will make me a valuable asset to your organization.
Enclosed with this letter are my curriculum vitae and copies of my educational documents.
I am available for an interview next week, and I would highly appreciate an opportunity to meet with you. I am reachable at the above mentioned address, telephone number, or email.
Allan Chan Allan
Facing the Planned Job Interview
Showing up for an interview without proper preparation is like waking up in the morning only to find out that the final exam is on your desk .You will have no good way to do it, unless you are a genius. The end result will be a failure. Whether it is because you have not studied or you are not psychologically prepared, you will have a poor outcome.
There are two important things a student needs in order to pass a test. One is to know the scope of the syllabus. For example, if the class has covered four topics, a good student will predict that the quiz will come from those four topics. Next, the good student will budget their time to be able to effectively study all the previous class assignments and textbook pages for those four areas.
For a job seeker, the advertised job requirement shows what job tools the CV and cover letter should be specifically written towards. He or she needs to know the scope of the job and then be prepared to talk about those job requirements in the CV and cover letter.
The most important thing to know before an interview is how to manage stress within one’s own self and how to impress the interviewer. Practice how to answer interview questions by thinking up your own possible questions that the interviewer may have. Do a mock interview with a friend or family member. One can also get probable interview questions on the internet. Let your friend ask you the questions. Then he or she can correct you in places, and this will equip you with confidence.
If one has a mentor in the professional field they are applying for, then this is the right time to contact them and seek their advice. It is also the right time to call or write your references to see if they can offer you some advice on how to answer interview questions. Most likely, they will be glad to assist you. Some of these people have been in the field a long while and know commonly asked interview questions. Also, don’t be shy about asking your mentors, advisors, friends, and family for support and encouragement.
Remain calm and make sure you are ready for the interview. Being confident will help you at the interview so that you are then fully able to articulate your points as you speak. Confidence is the first thing to build before the interview.
Dressing appropriately is mandatory. It speaks about what kind of a person you are. It communicates your character and your ability to look professional. If you are working towards an executive job, you must be dressed like a professional during the interview. Dressing speaks about the public image of the person being interviewed, and the employer must get this image from the first sight of you. They want to know that you are the person who will be able to professionally represent their company.
Make sure you communicate with clarity, both verbally and non-verbal. Give precise answers to the questions asked of you. Avoid giving vague answers or beating around the bush.
Your ability to support the content of your CV is crucial. Make sure you have with you every document you mentioned in your CV, both the original and a copy. The employer may ask you to leave them a copy.
Know more about the company you are seeking employment with by researching and getting details of the company. Find the organization’s profile, profit centers, and salary information. Much of this can be found on the company website. Also, you can do a general salary search on the internet to gain an idea of possible salaries.
Being relevant when answering questions is very important. If you have not heard the question properly, respectfully ask them to repeat the question for clarification.
Frame your answers precisely and in a logical manner. Tell interviewers only what they specifically ask for. Expound on your answers only if you are asked to. Some interviewees think that by explaining more, the interviewer will be impressed. This is wrong; just give the exact answers required
If you don’t know the answer never tell lies, waste time, guess or try. Just admit that you don’t know.
Keep your attitude and temper even during the interview. When asked a sensitive question, stay calm. Don’t react in an emotional manner.
Maintain eye contact with the interviewer; this tells them that you are keen to details and you are not telling a lie. Dropping eyes down when answering a question may indicate that you are shy or that you are avoiding giving the answer.
Body posture speaks a lot about your character. Make sure you have the right posture during the interview. If invited for an interview, do not sit until you are prompted to. Enter the room and remain standing and wait for instructions.
If you are offered a drink, avoid loud sipping – this could show that you have poor manners.
Avoid bad mouthing former employers if you are asked why you left a job. Tell what you would enjoy if given a job. Mention how you would love the opportunity for further career development inside their organization.
Remain outstanding in your presentation and be organized. Make sure you have all you need for the interview. Leave behind a lasting impression; and do not forget to thank the person for taking the time to interview you.
What to Avoid During an Interview
Refrain from arrogance, coming on too strong and wasting time answering a question you do not know by being sly. Making up answers to ones you do not know can give you the appearance of slyness. Avoid staring vacantly at the interviewer, speaking badly of former employers, or showing a lack of interest.
It is important to arrive at the interview area early so that you get know the interview room. This also shows the employer that you are a punctual person and would be a punctual employee.
How to Keep the Job
An employee should remain outstanding in the work place so that they can be kept on the job even during business cutbacks. The lazy worker is the first to be sacked and the most active are the last to be laid off. To survive you must have qualities that tell the employer you are productive and that they should keep you on.
Handling conflicts in the workplace is very important to help you retain your public image. Conflicts can be destructive, and a waste of company time. Conflicts can even destroy your position in the organization; it could indicate that you are a poor communicator.
The following are causes of conflicts in the workplace:
Time management / mismanagement
Discrimination or favoritism
Lack of respect and intimidation
Jealousy among employees
Incompetence and laziness
Theft and robbery
Social class discrimination
Cruel language in workplace communication – both verbal and written
Qualifies of good employees
A good employee should have a positive attitude towards their employer and job. They must be enthusiastic with all assignments given to them. They need a well-organized professional plan to help them grow in the field and to further their career. Being a good employee ensures that you remain employed and creates room for a better job in the future. You give your best, and you will get their best!
Work to achieve your goals and those of the company. This is possible through a commitment to realizing your goals in life and in your career.
Levels of communication at the work place include:
Key to effective communications
Use of gestures
Distance and availability
Effectiveness of speech
Correct communication channels
Engaging your audience
Being considerate and respectful of people’s culture and religion
Maintaining an upright posture and eye contact
Being accommodating and able to balance power
Awareness of nonverbal language
Effective timing and delivery of service
Maintaining focus, being alert – do not let your mind wander.
Listen carefully; realize exactly what is said beyond the words.
Check for accuracy
Be aware of other people’s needs
Ask and don’t tell – keep personal things confidential.
Keep an open mind
Develop confidential relationships
Surviving in the job place
Always be appropriately dressed. Punctuality is also critical to keeping your job. Attitude is everything; learn to keep up with the existing job environment.
Employment relationships are important for job success. Some jobs require independent working without being monitored. This means that as an employee you should perform on your own.
It is important that you be reliable and know your job well. Understand the job intimately and complete tasks on time. Be alert during on-the-job training, and read the information in detail to learn and understand it. Know your supervisors well, be trustworthy; no employer will want to keep an employee who shirks their work. They value those who are thoughtful and skillful.
Exercising a lot of maturity and understanding will benefit you in your job place. You will also benefit from networking with others and making friends at the work place.
How and Where to Get a Job
Getting a job is very hard these days because many quality graduates are flowing into the job market every year. Often jobs are advertised cheaply in the social Media and on various blogs. To wait for the job to be advertised on radio, television, newspaper or magazine may not be productive. Companies may be taking advantage of free advertisements.
Many employers require prospective employees to make applications at the company website. This is also where you will need to go to view job positions they have available.
It is also good to identify the specific area you are seeking employment in, and create a list by writing down websites of companies, organizations and government agencies that look interesting. To be quickly alerted to the vacancies available, find and make friends in some of these organizations. Often these people can alert you to job openings that have not been advertised. Networking with friends and professional acquaintances is important, so keep up your network contacts and check in with them on a regular basis.
Don’t forget to go to an interview well-dressed, have your documents organized so that you can easily present them to the manager in a professional manner. Let them know how you will benefit the company. Sometimes you will be told right then if they would like you to take the job. Be sure to gain an understanding of when you will receive word regarding the company wanting to hire you.
You may want to ask to be a volunteer or to work as an intern. Volunteering helps a lot and adds credit to your CV. Some volunteer service work can soon win you a job or scholarship. It can pave the way to becoming a future employee at that company. Becoming an intern is an excellent way to build work experience and show your skills, this will impress future employers
Creating your own job is another valid alternative. You can start your own business and employ others. Think of a business idea you could offer your community. For example: organizing a group of youth to wash cars in your town at the end of the day. By so doing you created a job, gave yourself a job, and provided a good service to your community.
Registering on professional websites and with legal job agencies is good to do. There are many to choose from.
Searching for a job is a job in itself; you need to use strategies just like business planning
Kosiyae was born in Turkwell, Turkana County, Kenya in 1976 into a polygamy family, in a pastoralism setting and began school at age 10. He holds a Diploma in Journalism and Media Studies, and Public Relations, and has a Certificate in Early Childhood Education. Kosiyae is currently studying for his Bachelor of Arts in Communication, with an emphasis in Mass Communication. He loves writing.
Other works by Kosiyae include: A lovely Sip for Courage and Qualities of a Good Presenter.