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Ivie Ogbonmwan: You Need to Glam Up that CV



There really is no right or wrong way to write your resume, there are just better ways.

It’s important to remember that your resume is the first thing a hiring manager comes across, and what they see is what determines if they will invite you or not. And that decision is still based on the preference of the specific hiring manager.

Hiring managers are individuals with different biases and preferences. What may appeal to hiring manager A may not appeal to hiring manager B. The wisdom then is to create a balance such that it addresses the basic needs of any regular hiring manager. Note that as a hiring manager reads your resume, they are, of course, forming opinions.

Also, things like how long should a resume be are grey areas. A hiring manager can think you have not done much in your 8 years of working simply because your CV is 2 pages. While another will see 4 pages as too long and will browse through quickly. The truth is, a professional hiring manager will pay attention to the content and not be counting pages. If all the information you put in is necessary, no one will be angry that it was too long.

Regardless, here are a few things good CVs should have in common.

Name and Contact Details
Your full name is important. You have let people know how to address you. Also, your contact details. This includes your home address, phone number and email address. The home address is needed because the hiring manager needs to know your nearness to the office address. No one will reach out to a candidate who stays in Benue State when the company is located in Lagos. Even when you are open to relocating, the manager will have no idea and will definitely ignore your resume. It is only in vacancies open to senior level roles or peculiar roles that do not have many candidates that a hiring manager will put a call through to enquire. I recommend that if you live outside of the company’s location, include an address within that location as well so they know you are open to relocation.

Your phone number and email address are equally important. The company will need to reach you for an interview. However, [email protected] is not acceptable.

As for pictures, to be honest, a lot of people hire based on looks. A lot. If the company has a brand to protect they can make a hiring decision based on appearance. By looks, it’s not just fine face. It’s everything. But a picture on your resume will not give them enough info, so they will still invite you in for a chat. Which makes a photo on your CV unnecessary. Also, for women, we live in a world where that single action can be interpreted by a female hiring manager as, “So it’s fine face she wants us to see to hire her, not her brain.” It makes it seem the photo was put there for ulterior reasons (to attract a male hiring manager, maybe). Like I said earlier, opinions are being formed as your resume is being reviewed. For professionals like myself, I really don’t care if your picture is there or not. If the content is great, I will meet you and make my decisions. During my recruitment days, I had clients who would ask point blank “Is she fine?” for candidates interviewing for front desk or marketing roles. It’s unfortunate that some companies still hire a bambi just for her looks and ignore the more intelligent girl simply because of her own looks.

Professional Summary
This is a basic summary of your career journey. This is not the time to go google something random. It is very obvious when you do. Your summary could be as simple as three lines, depending on what you do, years of experience, and your career plans. It helps the hiring manager understand clearly what your career path is.

Personal Details
This includes your date of birth, state of origin, local govt area etc. The only thing any hiring manager should require here is your date of birth. Why? Depending on the culture or current employer of the company, some organisations may require an older candidate or a younger candidate. For example, a school may insist that they want an older candidate as an accountant because the individual will be liaising with parents and some Nigerian parents will only respect an older person. It is then a complete waste of time to invite someone for an interview only to find that the person is way younger than your preferred age.

Your state of origin and local govt area are unfortunately still being reviewed by tribalistic organisations. Some companies will hire because the CEO is from a specific tribe or he is from my LGA. No professional hiring manager will require this, ever. However, I have had a client who was from a particular tribe and insisted that his accountant must not be from that tribe. Sometimes our hands honestly are tied. I recommend that you do not insert all that information. If they really want to know they will ask you at interview stage.

Industry Footprint
To be honest, this is quite new. You don’t have to put it if you don’t want to. The only benefit is it helps the hiring manager know the various industries you have worked in. This can be a plus depending on the hiring manager, organisation and the role. For example, as a CEO, it would be great to see that the HR manager applying to your company has worked in different industries and so has vast experience working with all kinds of people and in all kinds of environments.

We only want to see that you have a secondary school leaving certificate and one from a tertiary institution and beyond. A primary school is not necessary, but please, do as you please. I believe that a hiring manager who needs the information will ask for it. I have had a client who insisted on hiring only people who went to government primary schools and refused to see any resume that didn’t have the primary school information. I had to ask each candidate to insert that in their resume. Do not put your professional certifications in here.

Professional Certification
This can easily be lost in the previous section and this is something you want the hiring manager to note. So create a separate section for this, stating the certification and year it was obtained. Yes. Some CEOs only want someone who has
been certified for 5 years and above.

Key Achievements
This is a summary of your achievements on your career journey. Achievements! The things people write here ehn. Saying that you recruited 100 people for an organization is not an achievement as an HR manager, it is your job. An achievement is when you perform a task that is over and beyond and has a lasting impact on the organisation.

Pen down your work experience from your current place of work down to your national youth service experience and beyond. Never start with prior work experience to current. Hiring managers are interested in what you do currently and the more recent job experiences.

It is also important to include internship and volunteer experiences in your resume. They go a long way in projecting your various competencies and skills. If you ran a business at some point in life or helped a relative with some side work, include it as volunteer experience.

A resume is your first opportunity to get through that door. Make sure it is so well written it gets you an invitation.

Ivie Ogbonmwan serves as the human resources manager, responsible for strategies to attract, develop, and retain talent for ACT Foundation. Prior to her current role, She was an experienced analyst with OutsideIn HR, a management consulting firm which focuses on human resource business partnering, global talent development, and organizational effectiveness. Ivie’s educational background includes an LLB in Law from the University of Benin and a B.L from the Nigerian Law School. Contact Ivia via: and [email protected] Follow on Instagram: @iviechic


  1. stacy_kema

    June 27, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    Thank you Ma.

  2. Akara Pancake

    June 27, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    Well written article

    I will add my 50 naira (kobo is now more or less redundant)

    1. Job seeker, take precious time to work on your resume. Your CV, even with all the PHDs and qualifications is not worth spit, or worth the paper it is printed on, or even good enough to wrap cheap suya and plenty onions, if it is not properly formatted, and does not flow coherently. Make sure your current phone number is listed there – put an alternative number you can be reached on if necessary (if you are a run’s girl, make sure it is not Chief’s number). Outline the responsibilities and roles performed at all relevant jobs, and preferrably in past tense (for example say something like “Drafted and negotiated Master Services Agreements”, or “Analyzed my Instagram Page and Twitter timeline, while pretending like I was doing my company work”

    2. Good form for resumes is to outline only 7 years of relevant experience, and limit the resume to 2-3 pages, unless it is for a super high profile CEO-type or Director job. No HR manager is interested in reading your biography or learning about about how you helped increase the sales in one old generation bank in 1976. If necessary engage a professional resume writing service (I run one), or use one of those agencies like Hays or Robert Half, or Search or Adecco – sometimes they run resume-writing workshops or review yours for free.

    3. Your resume has to contain keywords and catch phrases specific to your area of expertise so that the resume selection software the hirers use can flag it after you submit an application. So if say you are applying for work as a procurement professional, one would expect you to known at least one or two ERP systems like SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics, and other concepts such as category management, purchase order management etc, If you snooze, you loose; and the many akara seller’s stalls are filled with the tossed out resumes of many incompetent job seekers.

    4. Dear job finder. Go and review your social media reputation. Google your name. What do you see? A LinkedIn profile chronicling your achievements is buriful (beautiful). An Instagram photo of you partying and bullshitting/breaking the internet/ smoking hookah upandan is not ideal. Make your Facebook/Instagram page private, and remove scandalous photos/posts from your timeline. Employers are hiring agencies to research employee’s online activity. Lame and ridiculous you say, but shebi na you need job. If you want more flexibility to do as you like online, then be a job creator, not salary seeker After you have arrived, if you like, you can break and re-break the internet.

    5. Dear job application sender, other than your CV, also work on your interview techniques. Nigerians have a natural “I no send frown” or a “resting bitch face”, and this affects both our men and women. That scowl has got to go, before it renders you perpetually employable. Soften your face when you walk in for an interview. Be friendly and courteous to the receptionist at the front desk sef. Speak clearly and concisely when asked interview questions. There are some basic interview questions which are always asked at interviews: Tell me about yourself; Why should we hire you; What do you know about the company; Where do you see yourself in 5 years; How do you deal with workplace conflict etc. Master answers to this questions and learn how to answer them in 2-4 minutes without narrating a story about how uninspired and poverty-stricken your life has been before this interview. Smile, but do not shine your teeth like the village jester. After the interview, thank the HR person for his/her time, and be sure to collect a business card. Send an email thanking them and re-enforcing your interest in the job.

    6. Job finder, tailor your CV to the job description so that there is a correlation, but be realistic. Someone who did a Masters in Igbo Literature will find it difficult getting into Google/Microsoft, unless he has extra qualifications or experience. Well unless you can code in Igbo.

    Good luck

    • Ephi

      June 28, 2018 at 6:12 pm

      Sooo many hilarious lines in this your comment ? thank you Akara Pancake (see name! lol), your sense of humour is ?

      Great article Ivie, thanks for sharing. Looking forward to more.

    • Chy

      June 28, 2018 at 7:38 pm

      I love you for this write-up. Wehdone

  3. keke driver

    June 27, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    Reading this was really helpful…. Thanks

  4. Wunmi

    June 27, 2018 at 7:31 pm

    In my part of the world(North America) date of birth is not a requirement for getting a job or to even include in a CV, That is discrimination to ask anyone for their age, tribe, marital status or even sex as a requirement to be considered for an interview. Nigeria needs to adopt that and stop being backward expecting that a person applying to be a director has to 45. You are welcome!!!

    • Rynyx

      June 28, 2018 at 4:58 pm

      That is so true. I live in Canada and never will you be asked for age or marital status in an interview because it is unlawful. I think the write up is specific to the Nigerian Workforce, which sadly, still pays a lot of attention to trivial and unnecessary details.

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