How to write a Professional CV

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Submitting a CV or a Resume is one of the job requirements when you want to apply for your dream job. In this article you will have the knowledge on how to write a professional CV or Resume by yourself without looking for a CV writer.

What is a CV?

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

Types of CV

There are 2 types of CV:

  • The educational CV: this type of CV focuses on educational/professional qualification and academic work and it is usually for applicants who have no work experience while
  • The experience focused type. another type of CV is the experience-focused type which focuses on professional experience, skills and achievements.

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.

Differences between CV and Resume

There are no difference in the meaning between CV or Resume, they are just the same thing. The British call it CV while the Americans call it Resume. So, do not let anyone confuse you.

How to write a Professional CV or Resume

How to write a Professional CV or Resume

Now, let us look at how to write a professional CV.
When writing a CV note the following:

  1. Choose clear, legible fonts
  2. Be consistent with your CV layout
  3. Don’t cram your CV with gimmicky graphics
  4. Get photos off of your CV unless you were instructed to add one
  5. Make your CV brief and relevant
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Avoid using generic phrases such as ‘team player’, ‘hardworking’ and ‘multi-tasker’. Instead, provide real-life examples that demonstrate all of these skills.
  9. 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.
  10. Decide whether the chronological, skills-based or academic CV is right for you. For more information, take a look at example CVs.
  11. Don’t put the term ‘Curriculum Vitae’ at the top of your CV.
  12. Provide a professional-sounding email address.
  13. 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.
  14. If you’re posting your CV online don’t include your home address, as you could be targeted by fraudsters.
  15. 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.

CV writing Format

The CV has different sections which are:

  • CV Header with Contact Information
  • Personal Profile: CV Objective or CV Summary
  • Work Experience
  • Education
  • Skills
  • Additional Sections
  • References
CV writing format
Image source: Zety.com

NOTE: If you’re fresh out of uni and need to write a student CV with no experience, or if you’ve graduated from a very prestigious institution within the last 5 years, put your education section above your work experience.

Contact Information

The contact information section consists of

  • Full name
  • Professional title
  • Email address
  • Telephone number
  • LinkedIn profile (optional)
  • Home address

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.

Personal Profile: CV Objective or CV Summary

Once you have listed your contact information, so not jump into writing your work experience or education yet.

After writing your contact information, you need to write a CV personal profile statement; which is a short, snappy paragraph of 100 words tops that tells the recruiters why you are just the candidate they’ve been looking for.

Your personal profile can either be a CV objective or a CV summary.

What’s the difference between CV objective and CV summary

A CV objective shows what skills you’ve mastered and how you’d fit in. It’s a good choice if you’ve got little work experience relevant to the job you’re trying to land, for example, if you’re writing a student CV.

A CV summary, in turn, highlights your career progress and achievements. Use it if you’re a seasoned professional and have a lot of experience in your field.

Now, have a look at some examples. Let’s say there’s a posting for a nursing job. Here are sample nursing CV objectives and summaries.

Example of a CV Objective

Wrong
Newly licensed Nurse looking for a challenging nursing role in a medical facility where I can put my skills to the test.

Not awful, right? The problem is, in this CV objective, the bottom line is basically “I want a job because I learnt for the job.”

Right
Dependable licensed NMC Registered Nurse trained to work in high-stress environments and stay calm under pressure. Seeking to leverage meticulous record-keeping and analytical skills to help St Francis Hospital with your upcoming challenges.

See the difference? The latter candidate focused solely on what she can offer her future employer. She also mentioned the name of the specific hospital to which she’s applying.

And yes, name-dropping is something you, too, should definitely do in your CV objective.

True, it means you won’t be able to spam your CV out to every company that’s currently hiring but, then again, when was the last time you replied to a “Dear User” email?

As we said before, if you’ve got some relevant job experience under your belt, begin your CV with a CV summary instead of an objective.

Check out these sample CV summaries;

Right
Bilingual (English and Dutch) Pediatric Nurse with 15+ years of experience in the intensive and neonatal care units of a community hospital. Seeking to leverage management experience as Chief Pediatric Nurse at General Hospital, helping to implement new staff training programmes.The General Hospital Director just picked up the phone to call this candidate.

What’s so great about this CV summary?

Above all, it’s super-specific. It gives a complete outline of the candidate’s background and shows how her experience will help her tackle particular problems the hospital is facing.

Here’s another example of a CV summary.

Wrong
Pediatric Nurse with years of experience supervising the medication and health records of newborns.This one, on the other hand, says little more than “I am a nurse.” It presents nothing but generic responsibilities all nurses have.

In your CV summary, don’t ever go for meaningless buzzwords.

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Work Experience & Key Achievements

Start with your most recent job role. For each job role, it’s important to state your role and achievements. Example of a Work experience and achievements;

Iceberg Communications Limited 2019 – (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 2019.

Education

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

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.

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.

But what if you’re writing a CV with little or no work experience? What if you’ve just graduated and are looking for your first full-blown job?

If such is the case, you should do two things:

First of all, place your education section above your work experience.

Secondly, elaborate a bit more on your academic experience. Include, for instance:

  • Your dissertation title
  • Favourite fields of study
  • Relevant coursework
  • Your best achievements
  • Extracurricular academic activities.

Skills

When it comes to skills for a CV, one issue is more important than any other: relevance. The skills you decide to include on your CV have to be relevant to the job you’re trying to land.

Remember when I mentioned tailoring your CV to the job description? Here it comes again.

Additional Sections

On your CV, include an additional section in which you show off your unquestionable triumphs: things that prove your value as a candidate.

Such as the following:

  • Industry awards
  • Professional certifications
  • Publications
  • Professional affiliations
  • Conferences attended
  • Additional training

A well crafted additional section can be the decisive factor in choosing you over another candidate with a seemingly similar background.

Don’t worry if you’re still studying and yet showcase none of the above. A good student CV will still benefit from an additional section. Here are some ideas:

  • Volunteer experience
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Projects
  • Freelance work
  • Academic achievements
  • Personal blog

References

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. Never use a referee that you’re not familiar with and has no knowledge of you using them as referees.

Once you’ve finished writing, save your CV in PDF to make sure your CV layout stays intact. But pay close attention to the job description. Some employers won’t accept a PDF CV. If such is the case, send your CV in Word.


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