This week I will add 10 tips to last week's 15. If you've read all three articles in the series you're firmly in the running to become Malawi's next best CV writer (after me).
16. Don’t try to be too different, no fancy stuff
Take it from someone that’s had to recruit before. Above and beyond looking clear and smart, there is nothing more annoying than someone who tries to stand out by a) adding graphics to their resume/CV or b) presenting the information in a totally different way to the standard.
If a recruiter has a pile of 50+ CVs to get through (and a lot of recruiters nowadays have many more), it is a lot easier to get the work done when people follow the usual order of things. Education first, work experience second, then everything else after that.
When I want to hire, I just want someone that can do the job and having a cool CV isn’t going to differentiate you. If anything, some might assume you are trying to compensate for a lack of something.
17. Format matters
Some CVs look downright shoddy. A recruiter who has a large pile of CVs to get through will not waste their time on someone that couldn’t bother to neaten their CV up.
18. Show dates clearly
Place dates either on the left or the right so it’s easy to follow your education and work experience path. Merging it all together with your bullet points is a) messy and b) can suggest you are trying to hide career gaps.
19. Date formats should be consistent
Generally, if I just have a year, I write the full year. If I have months and the year, I shorten the year because the CV starts looking clogged up.
Good format for year: 2012
Bad format for year: ‘12
Good format for month and year: Sep-12
Bad format for month and year: September 2012 (it takes up too much space)
20. No pictures
Unless the employer asks for it, you don’t need to have a photograph of yourself on your CV.
If you’re applying for a modelling job then your portfolio of pictures will be necessary as it is obviously a very necessary feature of the job.
21. General rule: most recent information goes first
Put the most recent education and the most recent work experience first. So, under education, university comes first and then secondary or high school information. Under work experience, the most recent work experience is put first.
22. Relevance rule: most job-relevant information goes first
If the most recent work experience is not the most relevant, place the most relevant work experience first.
23. Use the correct spelling
Applying for a job in Malawi or the UK? Then use British English. Applying for a job in the US? Then use American English.
By the way, to the British it’s a CV; to Americans it’s a resume.
24. No typos please
It will definitely reduce your chances of getting a job. If I’m recruiting and I see a typo, I’m probably going to throw that CV in the bin unless there are other seriously redeeming features on it.
25. Don’t use text language, jargon, acronyms or slang
This is a big no-no.
Text language is essentially a typo. It should not feature anywhere on your CV.
Jargon will make it difficult for the recruiter to understand your background. Remember, CVs normally get filtered by Human Resources (HR) before they are passed on to the teams that need to hire. HR might not be familiar with some jargon. Same applies for acronyms; unless they are accepted acronyms like USA, UK etc. an acronym is essentially jargon. You should spell out your acronym first (like HR in the previous sentence) if you intend to use it.
Slang is simply not professional, do not use slang.
“Action is the foundational key to all success.” Pablo Picasso
For 2 years until early 2014 I wrote a weekly personal finance and business column for Malawi's leading media house, The Times Group. The target is middle-class, working African women.
This is a reproduction of the articles that appeared in the weekend edition of Malawi News.