HOW COMPETITIVE IS YOUR CV?

HOW COMPETITIVE IS YOUR CV?

HOW COMPETITIVE IS YOUR CV/RÉSUMÉ?

In today’s ever-challenging business world, competition for talent is intensifying, though the ever-expanding business environment is ripe with job opportunities yet there are fewer qualified applicants available.

This dearth of qualified talents makes it more difficult for organizations to effectively attract and hire quality candidates, therefore, a great responsibility is placed on hiring managers/recruiters to devise several tools in selecting and hiring best and ‘culturally fit’ talents.

Selection of quality candidates has become fierce!! CV/Résumés are now under intense scrutiny.

While some CVs pass the 30 seconds review others are tossed in the bin- It’s the survival of the fittest!

Always remember that…..

‘it is not only how your résumé looks by itself; it is how it looks in comparison to other résumés’   – Professional Association of Résumé Writer and Career Coaches (PARW/CC)


How then do you make your CV competitive ………?

When it comes to CV/Résumé Writing, there are different and varying beliefs and techniques. Almost everyone has an opinion on ‘How and How Not’ to write a CV.

There have been instances of passionate debate among professionals on the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ of CV Writing and these debates are usually won by people with superior arguments.

Whatever the argument is, the general belief is that a well written and competitive CV should showcase candidate’s skills and potentials in an easy-to-read, logical and crisp format.

As a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and a member of Professional Association of Résumé Writers/Career Coaches (PARW/CC) our stand is ……

‘…. a guiding principle of the résumé writing profession is that there are no hard and fast rules! The one exception is that all documents should be error free. There is not one format, one layout, one strategy that everyone wants to the exclusion of all others’- PARW/CC

Exception: If the hiring company stipulates the exact format required for the CV/ Résumé.

In order to create a compelling, captivating and competitive CV, candidates should focus on CV Contents and Mechanism.

CV CONTENTS

Personal Details– This should contain information such as; Full Name or Title /Designation (if applicable).

Contact Information – Residential or Postal Address, functional E-mail, Phone Numbers, LinkedIn URL, Personal Website.

Additional Information-This may include; Language Proficiency (if multi-lingual), Date of Birth, Gender, Marital Status, Nationality, State of Origin and Local Government Area (L.G.A is optional but necessary if applying for roles or grants based on quota system in NIGERIA).

However, organizations that are keen on Diversity & Inclusion could find some details irrelevant or optional, such as; Gender, Religion, Age, Marital Status, Ethnic Group, Language, Nationality.

The rule of the game is to provide information that potential employer requires.

Education/Qualification: Include Dates, Name of Institution, Qualifications, Field of Study, Grades (from 3.5 GPA), Awards and Honors.

Training: List relevant trainings, seminars, conferences online and classroom based.

Certification: Include Certification Name, Certification Authority, Dates.

Membership/Affiliation: Include Organization Name, Position or Membership Status and Date of joining.

Work Experience– This should contain details such as; Name of Employer, Short description of company, locations (Town, City and Country), Job Title, Start-End dates on each role/company.

Include short description of employer if the company is not well-known or if product or service offering cannot be easily inferred from the company name.

Provide brief description of job responsibilities as well as significant, measurable and relevant accomplishments on each job. Use appropriate action words for great impact.

Check HERE for CV active verbs.

Skills– It could be Soft Skill/ Computer Skill /Technical Skills. Include job related or role specific skills that you have competence in.

#Details of references or referees should not be listed on the CV unless it is specifically required. Reference takes up space and it’s totally unnecessary. If you so wish, although not compulsory, you can always indicate that ‘referees will be provided on request’.

CV MECHANISM

Font Style/Size: You can play with fonts size as long as it follows same pattern and it’s consistent. Avoid using varying font style in one document!

Some CVs will have Verdana, Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial and Garamond fonts all in one document. This should be avoided. It makes the CV looks like a ‘tOGGLE cASE’ and unappealing to readers.

Upper Case or CAPs (Capital Letter): I have seen some CVs all in CAPS. Not just the section title but the entire CV!

In as much as writing in caps shows emphasis, it can as well put the reader off if it is overused. An all-CAPs document has all texts screaming for attention, at the same time.

Punctuation: Avoid unnecessary and incorrect use of punctuation. Do not forget to use (.) full stop to indicate the end of a sentence.

Margin/Formatting:

  • Use appropriate margin that will give the document enough white space, focus should be on appropriate mix of white space and words.
  • Always ensure that your CV is justified or well aligned. According to MS Word- ‘Justify (Ctrl+J) -Distribute your text evenly between the margins. Justified text give your document clean and crisp edges so it looks more polished’.
  • If CV is more than 1 page, insert your name/contact details as foot note or header on the extra pages.

Be consistent in your choice of formatting.

Spelling/Grammatical Errors: A CV full of spelling and grammatical errors shows chaos and could automatically lead to it being dumped in a ‘No’ pile.

Proofreading: It is advisable to always check for spellings and grammatical errors or incomplete information. Do not be in a hurry to send your CV without proofreading. You don’t want to give out an impression of sloppiness.

Acronyms/Industry Jargons: Limit the use of industry jargons or lingo even if they are common industry lingo. Jargon is the language, specialized terms or technical terminology used by certain profession or academic field. These words could be meaningless to others outside the specific field.

In order to avoid the CV looking gibberish to HR managers (who usually make first contact with applicant’s CV), the use of lingos should be minimized.

Likewise, if you must use acronyms then indicate the full meaning in parenthesis. More often than not, acronyms could have shared meaning across different sectors or industries. You wouldn’t want to leave the recruiter confused.


You can use any strategy or format in presenting CV but do not substitute great and relevant content for a graphically designed incoherent CV.

You only have 30seconds to impress the recruiter. Maximize it!


Conclusion

A competitive CV~~~

~has great and relevant contents

~is error-free and well-presented

~is reader-friendly

~will effectively showcase applicant’s skills and potentials

~is ‘fit for purpose’ – meets the job requirements

Find CV template/guide below;

CV Template

Before You Write The Next Cover Letter

Before You Write The Next Cover Letter

Cover letter is a statement of purpose, explaining applicant’s fit for specific position or role. Other titles used interchangeably for cover letter are; Application Letter, Application Essay, Personal Background, Introduction Letter, etc.

Most times, your cover letter could probably be the first thing the recruiter will see. Therefore, it should be written in a way that is appealing to the reader and as such invite the recruiter into the actual document [CV/Résumé]. The tone of the letter should be business-like, employer-focused and should respond to the job requirements.

Cover Letter should not be a ‘one-size-fits-all-role’ document.

It is not advisable to use one cover letter across board, for all vacancies, across all industries and sectors. Every cover letter should be customized for specific job vacancy, job responsibilities and job requirements.

Most often than not, job vacancies require cover letters. However, in a scenario where it is not explicitly stated as part of the job requirements, it will be worthwhile to write the cover letter as the body of the mail (BTW do not forget to attach your CV/Résumé).

Suggestion: Always have the specific job description handy when drafting a cover letter, pay attention to relevant keywords/phrases and present your skills or expertise in the most applicable way possible.

STRUCTURE

Address it like a business letter and you can adopt the recommendations below unless otherwise stated during application.

  • THEME FONT: The choice of font style should be clear and easy-to-read e.g. Times New Roman, Calibri, Serif, Arial, etc.
  • FONT SIZE– Font size should be between 10pts-12pts.
  • LENGTH– Total length should not exceed 1 page. If it goes beyond that, review and edit the document to fit into a page.
  • LINE SPACING– Use the line spacing rule as applicable on a business letter.

 

CONTENTS

Design or formatting is inconsequential if the content of your Cover Letter cannot effectively showcase your skills and potentials or demonstrate your fit for the role.

The contents of the letter should include;

  • Address of writer and recipient.
  • Salutation- keep it brief and direct.
  • Paragraphs- not be more than 4-5 paragraphs

 Ideas for arranging paragraphs;

¶ 1- Indicate purpose of application.

  • How did you hear about the role and through which medium- Newspaper publication/ website/ referral/ or on LinkedIn?
  • You could also specify why you are interested in working for this particular employer.

¶ 2 & 3- Fit for role

  • Outline your qualifications/competencies and match them to the requirements of the position.
  • Provide specific and relevant achievements to demonstrate fit for the role (use bullet points for emphasis)

¶4- Next Step

  • Include a brief paragraph that indicates what action will come next.
  • Make known your availability for an interview opportunity to discuss further.

Close by thanking the employer for their time and consideration and Signoff with ‘Yours Sincerely or Yours Faithfully’.

Finally, proofread more than once! Double check for grammatical or spelling errors! Assume the role of the hiring Manager!

Do not second-guess whether the cover letter will be read or not. Do the needful and maximize every opportunity to get your dream job.


 

COVER LETTER WRITING

Let’s write a cover letter for a candidate applying for a Territory Sales Manager role with the job description below;

Territory Sales Manager Job Description (Ref: #2305)

The territory sales manager is responsible for all managing all sales activities within a defined geographical territory.

Job Responsibilities;

  • Building the business within the territory using a variety of sales techniques.
  • Targeting potential customers and assessing opportunities for sales.
  • Arranging meetings with potential customers and selling product offerings.
  • Cold calling companies within the territory and establishing needs.
  • Putting together a list of target companies within the area.
  • Analyzing competitor activities in the region and assessing opportunities for business development.
  • Working to revenue targets and KPI’s as set by the sales director.
  • Networking with businesses in the territory and building relationships.
  • Attending relevant industry events and conferences to build business.
  • Chasing sales leads from other members of the company.
  • Working closely with other territory sales manager’s and national account managers.
  • Putting together sales strategies to target large accounts.
  • Keeping up to date with industry news to identify opportunities for new business.

Qualification/Requirements; 

  • Previous experience working as a territory sales manager.
  • Relevant industry background gained from a competitor or company in a related industry.
  • Excellent people skills and an ability to build relationships with people at all levels.
  • Proven track record of building business and hitting sales targets.

 

THE COVER LETTER

Cover Letter- Sample

The Hidden Interview Question

The Hidden Interview Question

The Hidden Interview Question

The hiring manager/interviewer has a huge responsibility of getting not just the best candidate but the best culturally fit candidate for the organization.

This weight of responsibility calls for in-depth and thorough selection process, most especially in today’s world with dearth of qualified and employable candidates.

The interviewer will therefore devise different types of interview [HERE] – written or oral or both just to fill a role. He will ask different questions and design different stages of interviews in order to search, select and hire the very best candidate.

However, there is an underlying question at the mind of every interviewer, especially when there is a strong need to hire the right candidate, at the right time and at the right price.

Behind each phone call, each e-mail or in mail, each text message and every form of communication between the hiring manager and the candidate is an underlying question that needed to be answered, either explicitly or implicitly.

This hidden question can be asked in different ways at different times, using different methods of communication and even in a different tone.

Some interviewers can even ask in a direct way! Looking straight into the candidates’ eyes and asking quietly but firmly.

‘Why should we hire you?’

This question can be disguised in different forms;

What are your strengths?

Why did you apply for this role?

Why do you want to leave your present role?

Do you think you are the best candidate for this role?

Tell me why you should be considered for this role?

What are your value propositions?

What are you bringing to the table?

What value can you add to this organization?

In other words, the interviewer wants you to market yourself, he is looking for the ‘wow’ factor in each of the candidates. The hiring manager is searching for something different, something unique, something strong enough to justify the recruitment’s ROI (Return on Investment).

But most times, candidates fail this critical question because they couldn’t convince the interviewer enough or provide any justification to hire them.

How to answer the hidden question…

Okay… the next question should be, how should I answer this underlying question even when not asked directly?

‘Why should we hire you?’

The question can only be answered with evidence of past accomplishments or demonstration of capability to solve problems relating to any of the under listed crucial business objectives.

The overall corporate strategy/objectives of every business entity are to;

  • increase profitability
  • increase customer base
  • generate sales/income
  • maximize revenue
  • identify and mitigate risk
  • develop new business opportunities
  • improve customer satisfaction
  • improve service quality
  • enhance productivity
  • reduce cost
  • retain customers
  • outperform competitors
  • gain market share, etc. etc.

Remember to always focus on notable achievements that are applicable to the role you are being interviewed for.

Explain what you have done in the past and how you have gone above and beyond your call of duty to impact your organization.

For example;

INTERVIEWER: Why should we hire you for this role??

CANDIDATE: As the Senior Finance Executive with over 8years’ experience, I provide strategic and tactical leadership in the areas of accounting, financial reporting, business development, strategic investor relations and corporate communications.

I have a track record of producing exceptional results within a short period. For instance, at my present place of employment, I played a leading role in bringing the company to profitability within 7months. Raised N25miilion (debt and equity) to finance development and launch of new products within 6 months. Acquired high end commercial accounts and businesses worth over N9.6bn within 1year by signing on new accounts, growing existing relationships and reactivating dormant relationships.

I have also led and built a team of 10 Financial Executives to achieve profit budget of N5.2bn in 2015 and over N7.2bn in 2016.

I believe with my level of expertise and outstanding achievements in previous and current roles, I should be able to replicate such if considered.

#2

INTERVIEWER: What are your strengths??

CANDIDATE: One of my strengths include efficient financial system implementation. I am equally passionate about overhauling multiple ERP systems to improve customer service, reporting and quality.

 If you find it difficult to identify your achievements or accomplishments, you can start by going over your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and see how you have added value overtime. Highlight these attainments  and mention or iterate them to impress the interviewer.

In case there was no formal KPI, you can always search for relevant ones and measure your performances against it.

Dear Recruiter,

Dear Recruiter,

DEAR RECRUITER: This letter is based on applicant’s experience with a typical recruiter.

 Dear Recruiter,

Kindly make an effort to include full Job Description in all your job postings. Remember to include; location, job requirements, job responsibilities and all relevant details that will aid my decision in applying for the role.

If you have already identified candidates for the role, please don’t bother advertising the vacancy or call me for interview and raise my hope for no reason. I have feelings too, remember.

If I’m shortlisted for a role, may I ask you for a fair chance to compete with other candidates during the selection and hiring process?

Dear Recruiter,

If the interview venue is outside my current location, can we explore other options of interview using technology? If possible?

And if it’s not possible, can you make it easy for your dear applicant by subsidizing or paying for my hotel accommodation and transport fare? Please?

I don’t want to “travel the world in 80 days” using my resources and eventually not considered for the job.

Dear Recruiter,

It’s an honour to be called for an interview, nevertheless….

I want to be adequately prepared before attending the interview, so, try to give at least 24-48hrs notice for the interview.

When I do honour your invite, please don’t keep me waiting at your lobby for hours, most times, I probably need to get back to work with my present employer.

And may I humbly ask that you should please be nice during the interview. I’m here to interview for job not to be interrogated for a crime.

Dear Recruiter,

I wouldn’t mind discussing my salary expectation during our first meeting. We both know that, it will be waste of time and resources to negotiate salary at probably the 4th stage of the hiring process and discover that we can’t agree on the pay.

Dear Recruiter,

Could you please, find time in your busy schedule to give me feedback after the interview. I think you owe me that honour.

It doesn’t matter if I pass or fail or you want to keep me in view! Just communicate. I want to know my areas of improvement and where I stand in the hiring process.

Not knowing is nerve wrecking.

Dear Recruiter,

Please, don’t take my follow-up ‘Thank you’ note or email as seeking for attention or favour, I’m only being professional.

Yours Sincerely,

 The Applicant

Read Dear Applicant’s Letter  HERE  Dear Applicant,