So far I've given you 25 tips on how too write a good CV. These are my next 9 Tips – if you've read all articles in this series, you're still in the running towards becoming Malawi's next best CV writer.
26. Use a descriptive title
Especially if you are applying as an experienced hire, under education and work experience, make sure the job titles are very specific and that they sell you. Specific titles allow the recruiter to very quickly decide if you have the necessary qualifications and experiences for the job.
Bad title: Analyst at Bank X
Good title: Analyst on Energy Team in Investment Banking Division at Bank X
27. List all the positions you held in one firm separately
If you’ve been with one company for a long time, it’s likely that your title and/or job function has changed over the years. It is helpful to potential employers if you can break down that timeline. Segmenting the information gives an employer useful insight into the nature of your experience.
28. Lacking in work experience? Focus on skills and qualities.
When you are just starting out, you may well not have any work experience. However, if you have time, get some relevant work experience. Even unpaid work e.g. volunteering at a charity shop or at an Olympics or other event is great to have on your resume/CV.
29. Don’t list qualities
It doesn’t matter if you say you’re a great team player or have fantastic communication or leadership skills unless you can back that up.
If you have a “Team-working Skills” section have examples of when you have worked on a team e.g. in sport.
If you have an “Organisational Skills” section have examples of when you organised an event.
Always validate skills and qualities with examples.
30. Include Positions of Responsibility
Positions of responsibility e.g. being Head Girl, Head of House or Captain reveal that you have experience in being a leader and managing people. Indeed, they might also reveal that your are popular and personable – more often than not, to be Head Girl, Head Boy or Head of House teachers or the whole student body have to vote for you.
If you’re still in school or university and there’s time, try to attain a position of responsibility in some club or society.
31. Include Achievements
Achievements reveal very different information to Positions of Responsibility, they show you are a goal-setter and an achiever in either sport, the arts or academics. This in turn reveals you’re a hard-worker, persevering and have initiative. Getting an award for something is not usually easy, it requires some amount of grit and determination.
32. Be careful about including interests and hobbies.
Some interests open you up to being judged harshly. Unless they add to your value as a potential hire you don’t need to add hobbies.
At times including a hobby may relay useful insight, for instance, if you’re applying for a role where a lot of reading will be required e.g. reading legal or other documents, then mentioning that you’re a prolific reader and that you can read a 300-paged book in one afternoon is of value.
However, just adding “reading” as a hobby is useless and for many people isn't even true! These are the hobbies that were included on a CV I recently received: “Reading novels, listening to the radio, chatting with friends and sharing Gospel words”.
I'm sure you too are laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of this list. No one wants to hire someone who enjoys chatting as a hobby because they are likely to waste time at the office instead of getting work done; as for listening to the radio how does this sell anyone? Everyone listens to the radio – it's what you listen to that matters; reading novels is also neither here nor there – hobbies such as reading can be mentioned in an interview and if they are going to be mentioned they need to be backed up with examples of books that you have read. Novel reading won't impress most employers but business books will. As for sharing the Gospel that's only relevant if you are applying for a job as a pastor or some other such thing.
Importantly, giving too much personal information opens you up for discrimination. For instance, if your employer is Muslim and you are a Christian fanatic they probably won't want to hire you. Religion is a very personal, divisive and job-irrelevant piece of data it shouldn't be on a CV.
“Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.” Confucius
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.