[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ast week, we said many graduates are searching for jobs without success because they are ignorant about how to package their curriculum vitae (CV). We added that your CV has a persuasive purpose and it is basically an advertisement. We said as such, you must be clear on what the employer is looking for and what you have to offer before you begin your CV.
In writing your CV, you need to organise your thinking such that you will be able to see some new connections between what you have done and what the employer is looking for. You need not confine yourself to work-related accomplishments. Therefore, base your composition on your entire life accomplishments. The essence of this is to cover all the talents you bring to the market place. If you are making a career change or are a young person and new to the job market, you are going to be especially creative in getting across what makes you stand out. One important part of the planning process is to decide which CV format fits your needs best. Do not automatically assume that a traditional format will work best for you.
There are three types of CVs, and these are chronological, functional and combined chronological functional. The most effective one is the combined chronological functional CV that takes care of the combined deficiencies of chronological and functional CVs. A great CV has two sections. In the first section, you make assertions about your abilities, qualities and achievements. The second section, the evidence section, is where you back up your assertions with evidence that you actually did what you said you did.
This is where you list and describe the jobs you have held, your education, etc. Most CVs contain the evidence section without assertions. The assertions section usually has two or three sections. In all of them, your job is to assert that you are the best candidate for the job. You start by naming your intended job. This may be in a separate Objective section, or may be woven into the second section, the Summary. If you are making a change to a new field, or are a young person not fully established in a career, start with a separate Objective section.
Targeting your CV requires that you should be completely clear about your career direction. The way to demonstrate your clarity of direction is to make the first major topic of your CV be your objective section. Suppose the owner of a newspaper house puts an advert in the paper looking for an experienced sales person. Then later, the company receives 800 CVs. The applicants have different backgrounds.
The recruiting person has no way of knowing whether any of them is really interested in selling the company’s product. He or she remembers they have all applied for a job they do not really want. He or she knows that many of the CVs received are from people who are just casting their seeds to the winds. Then, he or she comes across a CV in the pile that starts with the following: “OBJECTIVE: To work as a sales person in a reputable media organisation where an extraordinary record of exceeding sales target and excellent customer relations would be needed.”
This will automatically attract his or her attention. It works well because the prospective employer is smart enough to know that someone who wants to do exactly what he or she is offering will be much more likely to succeed than someone who does not. And, he or she (the applicant) will probably be a lot more pleasant to work with as well. Also, this candidate has done a good job of establishing why he or she is the best candidate in the first sentence. It is noteworthy that even when people are clever enough to have an objective, they often make the mistake of composing a selfish objective such as, “To work as X in an organisation where I can hone my skills….” The employer is interested in hiring you for what you can do for him or her, not for fulfilling your personal goals and agenda.
To write your objective, therefore, you first of all decide on a specific job title for your objective. Go back to your list of answers to the question, How can I demonstrate that I am the best candidate?as suggested earlier. What are the two or three qualities, abilities or achievements that would make a candidate stand out as truly exceptional for that specific job?
The person in the above example understands that the prospective employer would be very much interested in candidates having the ability to exceed sales targets, generate new accounts and effectively relate with customers. Therefore, he or she makes that the very first and convincing point of the CV. Ensure that the objective is to the point. Experts such as Nicholas Lore, an international career management coach say it is better to avoid fluffy phrases which are obvious or do not mean anything, such as, “Allowing the ability to enhance potential and utilise experience in new challenges.” The objective may be broad and still somewhat be vague in some cases, e.g. “A senior-level management position in the banking industry”.
Having an objective statement that is really catching is the best. One format is:
“OBJECTIVE: An X position in an organisation where Y and Z would be needed.” X refers to the name of the position you are looking for. Y and Z are the most unique qualities, abilities or achievements that will really make you stand out from a crowd of applicants. The research previously done, to find out what is most important to the employer will provide the information to fill in Y and Z.
If you are actually not sure of the type of job you are looking for, adapt your CV to each type of job you apply for. There is nothing wrong with having several different CVs, each with a different objective, specifically composed for a different type of position. This is so because you are only writing an advertising copy, not your life story that is objectively fixed.
You may or may not need to use a separate Objective section if you are looking for a job in your present field. You may just include your Objective in your Summary section. The point of using an Objective is to create a specific psychological response in the mind of the reader. If you are making a career change or are a young person, you want the employer to immediately focus on where you are going, rather than where you have been. If you are looking for another job in your present field, it is more important to stress your qualities, achievements and abilities first.
The following are a few examples of the separate objective section:
- A mid-level position in the insurance industry where a background in public relations would be needed.
- An English language teaching position where a special ability to motivate and communicate effectively with students would be required.
(B) The summary part
The Summary (of qualifications) segment consists of several concise statements that focus the reader’s attention on the most important qualities, achievements and abilities you have to offer. Those qualities should be the most compelling demonstration of why you should be employed at the expense of other candidates. We will continue next week.
PS: For those making inquiries about our Public Speaking, Business Presentation and Professional Writing Skills programme, please visit the website indicated here for details.
GOKE ILESANMI, Managing Consultant/CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Professional Public Speaker/MC, Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker and Career Management Coach. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant.