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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.