Increasingly, ordinary letters of application for employment are going out of fashion. They are obsolescent so to speak. The current practice is for job seekers to be asked to send résumé or curriculum vitae with their letters when they apply for jobs. It is very important when your résumé or curriculum vitae are tuned to answer all the possible questions that a particular employer may wish to ask you in connection with the job you seek. Generally, there are standard formats which your résumé or curriculum vitae may follow. Read this presentation from sismomex.com to enlighten yourself on how write your own curriculum vitae (C.V)
what is a résumé or curriculum vitae?
A résumé is a short narration of your life history covering your birth, education and employment or job experience. A Curriculum vitae is considered or expected to be an outline or write-up of a person’s birth, educational and professional or job experience history. The curriculum vitae (C.V. for short) is considered largely only applicable to people who belong to recognized professions or associations. To me, however, everyone from a driver’s mate to a university graduate, through to a farmer, to a market woman, can have a C.V.
The expression “curriculum vitae” has its roots in Latin and literally means “The course of your life”. This is why your C.V. must provide information on your birth, your education and your employment history (if any). The terms résumé and curriculum vitae can be used interchangeably. Largely, the Americans and the French will use Résumé while the British will go for C.V.
Guidelines for Writing your C.V
As we hinted earlier, there are various formats for presenting your C.V all of which are acceptable. The principles guiding the writing of a C.V no matter which format you may adopt, can however be summarized in three words:
(a) Simplicity: Do not put unnecessary information in the C.V you write, with a view to impressing your prospective employer. Do not ‘blow you own horn’. Present facts simply and avoid embellishments.
(b) Clarity: Present your facts clearly. Do not leave the reader to guess or to fathom out what you mean or intend to mean.
(c) Brevity: Write short and relevant information only. This makes your C.V to be devoid of unnecessary stuffs. It is important not bore your employer with too many information. He may stop reading before getting to the relevant information that may get you the job. Time is very precious and your prospective employer must not be given a novel or an autobiography in place of a C.V.
In a nutshell, the C.V must be simple, clear and brief.
What to include in the C.V.
Although there are standard formats, you must not impose ‘standard’. Your life history, education and employment records are likely to be different from those of any other person’s, living or dead. This is because you are unique and your C.V must reflect and represent this uniqueness. Generally, a C.V. will have the following parts:
- Personal Details or Personal Information: This section must provide information on your name (in full) often separated into NAME and OTHER NAMES, your residential and or postal address, your date of birth, place of birth, country of birth, nationality and marital status. You can also provide information on your family of procreation: the name of your wife, your children and their dates of birth. In some C.Vs, you can just indicate your marital status and the number of children you have without providing specifics about either your wife or your children.
- Education: It is necessary to provide a comprehensive history of your educational journey. You will need to work backwards, which means you must begin from your most recent educational institution of attendance to the earliest with a summary of the course(s) of study. You may have attended an institution, followed a course of study but failed to pass the final exam to earn a desired qualification. But the fact that you did pursue the course or that you studied certain subjects may place you in good stead for a job, particularly one which is skill oriented and which may not have heavy reliance on theory to obtain a specified qualification for reasons of examination failure.
- Qualifications: In this section, you also work backwards starting with your most recent educational qualification. You must mention the qualification, the year of award and the awarding body as well as the class of the award if applicable. Some people may choose to separate their qualifications into ACADEMIC and PROFESSIONAL. Academic are those qualifications that do not specifically relate to specific jobs or vocations. The M.S.L. C, B.E.C.E, G.C.E. and ‘A’ LEVELS and W.A.S.S.C.E are examples of purely academic qualifications. Qualifications such as Teachers’ Certificate A’ or Degree in English Education will usually be regarded as professional since they are related to teaching as a profession. There are some qualifications that may pass for both. For example, a Bachelor of Education Degree from any university may be considered both academic and professional in some circles and circumstances. The important point we need to make here is that you must list all your qualifications even if you do not label them as being academic or professional. To be on a safer side you may use the heading “Academic and Professional Qualifications” for this section.
- Employment: Just as we said in Sections 2 and 3, you have to give a full and up-to-date record of your employment history. You must name the employer’s location, the specific job you did or the position you occupied and the period of employment. Again, you must work backwards beginning with your latest employment.
- Promotions: Depending on the job you want or are applying for, the employer may want to know if you have had any progress at all in the course of your employment. It may, in effect, be necessary to spell out your progress by way of promotions.
NB: this is an irrelevant section for a young school leaver or graduate with no job experience and should never be a feature of their C.V. For those who may find this section necessary, it is important to work backwards from the highest to the lowest rank indicating the dates of promotion, the specific ranks or grades promoted to and sometimes a brief job description attached to the grade. However, the employment history will have some information on this and duplication must be avoided to ensure brevity of your C.V.
- Interests: The interests include hobbies, sporting and other leisure activities such as gardening, travelling, photography, etc. Do not list too many activities here. Put down one or two hobbies only and be sure you are telling the truth. Do not put down golf simply because you know the company or organization you are applying to has a vibrant golf club.
You may be questioned about golf at the interview and it will be a big minus if you are found not to have any idea about how Golf is played. Be very honest.
- Referees: Sometimes, job advertisements specify the number and kind of referees they require. You may be required to give academic referees (who may have been your teachers, tutors or lecturers or persons who can vouch for your academic standard and attainment or professional referees (who may have been your employers or work associates or persons who have had any dealings with you by virtue of employment and who can provide information on your abilities and performance on the job). You may as a rule name two referees at all times (one academic and one professional where necessary or applicable). Do not have relatives or friends as referees unless of cause you deem them to be right.
Ensure that the referees you name can be relied upon to answer promptly any queries that your prospective employer may raise about you. It is necessary that you inform your referees to expect such queries about you from prospective employers.
- Final Remarks: A good C.V. must aim at highlighting your good points, your expertise and skills or human qualities in a very simple, clear and brief format. Above all these, you must be truthful to yourself and to your prospective employer in the things you say about yourself. Your C.V must play down your weaknesses but if you have ever been sacked from a job, do not hide it. A gap in your employment history will bring out this fact and you could be in for embarrassment at an interview. You will need to review or revise your C.V from time to time to enable you provide information to suit specific job requirements. It is necessary for you to have a copy of your C.V with you at any time especially if you are jobless. You do not know when you will hear of a vacancy. Be prepared like a scout.