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The value of an updated CV

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We speak about the CV everyday but what exactly is a CV? Why is it valued above all else during the job hunt? In the following I demystify this important document and give advice on how to keep it up to date. 

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There are limitless resources on the Internet about CV writing and presentation, its contents and a myriad of other topics related to the CV. Today the idea is to tackle a slightly different element – the value of having an updated CV. Let us start by demystifying this “animal” called the CV, which happens to be the single most important document when it comes to Job search. Interestingly, even Entrepreneurs, who have an established business model that requires funding (to scale up or out), need to prepare their CV’s for the benefit of their Investors. Their CV showcases their potential for those willing to put money into the business, for a return or profit.

We speak about the CV everyday but what exactly is a CV? Why is this the single most important document, valued above all else during the job hunt? Why do we have to put in the equivalent of “our blood and tears?”

Curriculum Vitae, Your Story

Curriculum Vitae is Latin and translates to “your story,” something I recently learnt. Yes, every day is a learning day as the old adage goes. In brief, your story, needs to be told in such a way that a potential Employer gets to know you without having to meet you first and also, sees your value. You then have to showcase your talent, abilities, experience or skills gained, in a way that Employers can relate to you and understand YOU! Please remember that this document makes the difference between the potential invite for a job interview or being left in the pile of CVs.

One thing to reiterate is no matter how much experience, or lack of it, you have (meaning you haven’t worked for long) your CV still needs to look smart. It can’t afford to look untidy, or filled with spelling mistakes. Employers will not take you seriously.

Structure of a CV

So, what should be in the CV? This is a question very often asked, by a lot of people coming into the Job Market. We shall demystify the CV here and look at the constituent components. Here is what it should have: 

•    Your name and contacts: keep it simple and state the names that you would expect to be addressed by. That means your first name, second name initial and surname. Contacts need to be a phone number and email address. Remember to keep it professional and avoid using emails like honeybaby16(at)email.com

•    Brief Bio: This is where you introduce yourself and tell the reader (in this case the Employer/ Recruiter) about you in brief. It tends to be a summary of everything else you are going to say in the work experience and other interest sections. Summarize your years of experience, any capacity developed and other special interests that might add value to the Employer. If you are applying for a Radio presenter’s role and spent years talking at your debate club or even worked at your University Radio station, this is where you mention it. Remember it is a brief so nothing more than 150 words (the length of this paragraph if possible).

•    Key skills: State at most 10 skills in this section. If you are a great communicator, say it! You can negotiate, say it! You present in front of large groups…. Say it! The question people straight out of college often ask is: “What skills do I have considering I have little to no work experience?” My response is: “your God given talent is a skill.” Also include what you gained during your internships and even volunteer work. Remember that in the Internships and volunteer roles, you performed tasks that might be invaluable to the right employer. State them!

•    Work History: In this section, you state the experience gained through Employment. You have to include each role separately. Your header here is the Title of the role (if you were the Accountant, write Accountant), followed by the Employer and the period you worked at the specific company. Finally below the Job title and Employer, mention how you added value to the role e.g engaged with the customers and as a result built relationships culminating in Kshs 2Million in new revenue over the year. Thereafter state the tasks you were assigned to perform. Remember for the work history, repeat the process for each job you have held.  Job title => Employer => Period worked=> Value added to the role => specific tasks assigned.

•    Education and qualifications: Keep it brief. Starting with the most recent field of study – you can mention if you were an Honors student or got any special merit awards, the University and the period (if degree is completed) studied in years. Don’t bother attaching the transcripts, those can be provided if the Employer requests. Mention any certifications acquired on the Job and your Pre-university Education, in this case Secondary School. Primary education is usually irrelevant.

•    Personal Interests: Showcase interests that might be relevant to the Employer. If you are applying for a Photo Journalism job and travelling and photography are your hobbies, then this is very relevant to the Employer.

•    Referees: Referees are persons that attest to your character as a person. It is therefore important to cultivate referees that know you professionally. Provide their names and contacts and always inform them that you have included them as referees. Keep this to a minimum of Two (2) and maximum of Three (3).  Your parents and siblings are not good character references – they would not be considered objective.

Now that we are done with the structure, let’s dwell on what the CV’s value is. It should however be very apparent now that this is a very comprehensive picture of “you” and your achievements.

Earlier on, we talked about a good CV getting you an interview. We can summarize by saying that the CV is your Sales document. It sells you and your abilities. So remember that you need to update it with our recent achievements and this should be a constant process. If you can show progression in your CV, it says that you are reliable and trustworthy, which is something Employers are always looking for.      

Finally, remember that a bad CV doesn’t even get you through the door, which means that no matter how good or great you are, you will miss out on great Job opportunities. So ensure that you carry out spell checks. Bad or poor spelling is abhorred by potential employers and can lead to your automatic rejection. As such, I would recommend that once you are done with the document, pass it on to a few people to review and give feedback – this can be a supervisor or role model (people that would ideally be an employer). They should be able to give you candid feedback on your employability.

With that said, an easy way to make sure your CV is up to date, is to create an Online CV on Fuzu.

 

Author: Robert Kimani - President Business Development at Fuzu

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