How to Communicate with a Good CV

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How to Communicate with a Good CV

Post by Kazrem » Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:32 am

As the first main contact between a prospective employee and an employer (or a contact to an employer), the Curriculum Vitae (or CV) of a job candidate is as important as it can get. Same goes for the email that conveys the document. For both, don’t try to impress. Instead, focus on communication.

So let’s start from the outside to the inside. These days, many persons, for obvious reasons have to send their CV via email.

The email should be short, courteous, clear, and devoid of both obvious and not-so-obvious mistakes. First the title of the email should reflect the content of the message. Its essentially an application for a position, accompanied by a supporting document (the CV). Ideally, the title of the mail should be in title case (e.g. Application for an Analyst Role). Writing email titles or naming documents in ALL CAPS is less than professional in most contexts.

Next, the salutation must be polite. “Dear Sir” or “Dear Ma” is best. Generally, I don’t favour “Dear Hiring Manager”, or “Dear Recruitment Manager”. These should be used only when you’re clear and certain that your mail recipient is a hiring or recruitment manager. Often, these expressions are most common with recruitment agencies.

At the same time, writing “Good day”, or “Good morning” etc without a “Sir” or “Madam” is rude. Unless you’re writing to someone you know personally, you’re safest with “Dear Sir” or “Dear Ma”. With some measure of familiarity, “Good evening Sir” or “Good morning Ma” would be in order. The rest of the mail should demonstrate the same level of thought, respect, and attention to details. That mail is your first impression. If it is too poor, your CV may not be opened (even if you’ve hired a professional to write it!).

Now to the CV, it’s important that your name appears prominently at the top of the document. Here, ALL CAPS or Or small caps is allowed. Then except you just want to take on just any job that comes, your career objective should offer some insight into what you want to do, what contribution you are prepared to make.

Merely saying you “want a challenging job that offers opportunity for advancement” and similar stuff does not set you apart or identify you in any way. It may also suggest rightly or wrongly that you haven’t made any conscious decision to prepare yourself for something specific. There are times this will fly (depending on the job) but for many small but professional businesses, some level of specificity is important. Telling us who you are, and what you’re aiming to be is a good way to start your introduction.

Back in 2002/3, my career objective said I wanted “to become a very proficient, hands-on, value-creating analyst of business strategy, finance, and operation”. A few years after, I dropped “operations” and stuck to “strategy and finance”. My career has both revolved and evolved around those two themes.

I’m not making a ‘straight jacket’ prescription here. This example is only to illustrate that your career objective (if you have one), should in reality align with who and what you’re preparing yourself to become. More importantly, it should indicate what kind of contribution and employer can reasonably expect of you. Knowing where people can reasonably fit helps employers early in the process and it can brighten your chances. On a fair note, it gets the reader interested in the rest of your CV. Very importantly, it guides your own investment of time and effort and directs your search for learning opportunities.

Educational history is clearly important and should be stated clearly on the CV with dates. Also, a summary of what you have done in the past, what contributions you have made or can make as well as description of your technical, conceptual, or leadership skills is important. Here you don’t have to describe yourself as “exceptional” or best in class. Rather, focus on communicating facts of your past accomplishments or contribution to some team or community effort.

Many employers look for persons with leadership ability, a sense of personal direction, initiative and selflessness. Even when you have limited or no commercial work experience, it’s important that you communicate what, from your past life indicates the genuine presence of these traits.

If you have significant prior experience, it’s important to highlight not just your abilities or activities. Instead focus on accomplishments that advanced the organization’s interests.

In addition to relevant content, the layout and general appearance of a CV is important. Proper formatting and selection of reader friendly font type and font size is important. Sections should be well-labeled. Lists and paragraphs need to be well aligned.

A poorly laid-out or poorly formatted CV is a bad advertisement for a candidate. However, taking the and effort to work on the document shows you care about some details. In some context, it may provide some indication of what your reports on the job could look like. At the minimum, provided you meet the selection requirements, it could earn you a pass to the next stage: a written test, a chat, or a formal interview.

There are numerous valuable guides on the Internet to help you create a good CV. Each job candidate would do well to seek these out and make good use of them.

This post is dedicated to a young man, a former president of the Nigerian Economics Students Association (Obafemi Awolowo University Chapter), who literally started his career collecting CVs of his classmates for an internship program and to the leadership of MBC Financial Services for providing a platform for many young graduates to develop and find their feet in the investment business through the firm’s graduate internship program. Only time will tell the impact, reach, and potential of this initiative.

Thank you.
I am an Amazon #1 Bestselling author of Write To Stardom (How To Write Irresistible Articles That Keep Readers Glued To You From A-Z)

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