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Enoch Adeyemi’s Article on “Win With Your CV!”

CVs are a necessary evil, and I won't bore you with its history. Despite various attempts to make it extinct, it is still the key tool used by employers to judge a prospective employee, so it is here to stay, for a while anyway!

What credentials do I have to write on this subject?

I am not a recruiter nor am I an HR professional. However, I have had multiple experiences as a consultant who needs to get on new projects every now and again so that is why I am sharing some of my tips here. Furthermore, I have supported multiple folks within the Black Professionals Scotland network with their CV and this has improved the outcome of their application so I believe there is one or two tips I can share which can help.

Who is this for?

Everyone. However, there will be bits in here that will cater to members of the Black Professionals Scotland community who are mainly first-generation immigrants and in lots of cases still write CVs as they write in their home country. That is not necessarily bad but as they say, when in Rome, behave like a Roman.

The way I see CV is that you want to write it with lots of upsides and little to no downsides. What do I mean? You want to include items that will likely improve your chances and not include items that may potentially work against you. I will touch on this as we go through the tips. In essence, you want your CV to be written in such a way that a recruiter picks it, starts ticking off points or starts nodding affirmatively to the point where they think ‘Let me give Kudzai a call'.

Throughout this write up, I will use fictional Kudzai Ajaye as our reference point. He is a qualified accountant.

Let's dive in.

Tip #1 – CV File Name

My general advice here is that it should simply be your name, surname and any accreditation you have which supports THAT application. If Kudzai is applying for an accounting role, his CV should be saved as Kudzai Ajaye ACCA. What this does is that before his CV is even opened, the recruiter is already excited as they know Kudzai is qualified so they are going into your CV with positive expectations. If you have an accreditation as a Business Analyst and you are applying for an accounting role, I suggest you do not add this as it is of no value-add.

Tip #2 – CV File Format

PDF. This locks your CV in the format you have written it and presents it as you want it presented to the recruiter. Submitting your CV in Word could be detrimental because what happens sometimes is when the CV is opened using a different application, it may mess up your formatting to the point where your CV becomes less legible. Only use non-PDF version if explicitly stated by recruiter.

Tip #3 – Name/Email/Mobile etc.

This is where you are adding your key details at the top of your CV. When writing your name, again, include relevant accreditations but not overtly e.g., Kudzai Ajaye ACCA rather than Kudzai Ajaye ACCA, BA, MSc, PhD, CMA, etc. etc.

Add key contact details including email address, mobile number (in the format i.e. 07… not +447…) and some people include LinkedIn now so you can. If you have an email that may potentially put you in a bad light, considering creating another one. Email address like killerfella@gmail.com may have been fun at uni but may work against you on your CV.

Tip #4 – Profile/Summary

Most CVs now include a summary at the top and there is debate around if this is needed or not. I generally include but keep it short to 3-4 lines. The logic I use to write this section is focusing on 3 key points to hit.

  1. What I have been doing that makes me ideal for the role and that I can potentially bring to the table
  2. Why I am interested in that role
  3. Why I am interested in that company/industry

I keep all this succinct and straight to the point. In my view, once you cross that 3-4 lines boundary, you are already blabbing.

Tip #5 – Key Skills/Achievements?

More and more, I am seeing this on CVs and I am not against it. If you must add this, again, keep it short, keep it relevant. if applying for an accounting role, don't add Strong Social Media as a skill as it is not relevant to the role. For achievement, you could potentially mention 2 achievements you are proud of, the more aligned to the role it is, the better.

Tip #6 – Education or Past Experiences

If you are a graduate, your education is more relevant than the part time jobs you've had while studying so go straight to education and then experiences later. If however, you are a skilled job seeker, then your past experiences should come before your education.

Tip #7 – Past Experiences

For this section, I usually format the header as shown in the template and this way it is clean and easy to follow for a recruiter. Some folks lump all on one line and it looks messy and not legible.

Use action words when describing your role. Words like co-ordinated, challenged, managed, empowered should be use across your CV. You can find a list of these words on Google.

For each job description, try keep this succinct. What recruiters want is for you to line your previous job description to their job spec if possible. For example, if on the job spec, one of the responsibilities include ‘Preparation of monthly accounts', and you have done this or doing this in your currently role then you should simply copy and paste word for word in your job description.

Why? It makes the recruiters work much easy so that as they scan down your CV, you are simply feeding them what they need to the point where they decide to give you that call or send that interview request email to you.

Tip #8 – Education

If you are an experienced individual, this section should be short and simply include University/College, Degree. It is not imperative to add graduation year as you may be discriminated against. You do not need to include details of your degree including modules etc. You do not need your graduating grade e.g. 2.1 but feel free to add if you got a 1st as that will never work against you.

If you are a recent graduate, include your University/College, Degree and modules which are relevant to the role. It is not imperative to add graduation year as you may be discriminated against. You do not need to include details of your degree including modules etc. You do not need your graduating grade e.g. 2.1 but feel free to add if you got a 1st as that will never work against you.

Tip #9 – References

Now obsolete. There is now no value in even making reference to this at all. Don't even say it will be available on request, that goes without saying.

Tip #10 – Interests

I normally don't add this to my CV but if you must add, keep it succinct.

Tip #11 – Interests

Keep your CV to a maximum of 2 pages. Remember, recruiters have lots of CVs to go through and if you haven't added the exciting stuff they want to see on page 1 or 2, you can be sure they won't be getting to page 3. Also, by keeping the limit to 2 pages, it forces you to keep your CV straight to the point and sell yourself much quicker.

I have shared some Dos above, now let's cover some Don'ts.

Tip #12 – Home Address & City

Do not include this detail on your CV. There is no upside per se but potential downside if your location is seen as not favourable for the role.

Tip #13 – Be Local

What I mean by this point is that because lots of people within my network are first generation immigrants and have lots of international experience especially in Africa, dotting this fact all over your CV could work against you if your CV is being reviewed by some calibre of recruiters. For example, if Kudzai worked for a bank called Chartered Business Bank Zimbabwe, he should simply write Chartered Business Bank and ignore the Zimbabwe.

In an ideal world, all skills from all over the world should be appreciated but the issue is that recruiters still don't appreciate experience coming from the African continent as they would that coming from Canada, Australia etc. In order not to put yourself at a disadvantage, I advise you remove every trace of Africa on your CV and keep it vanilla. Only include if it actually improves your chances e.g., where job spec says they want someone with Zimbabwean experience (unlikely but hey you never know)

Tip #14 – Typos & Consistency!

Review. Review. Review. Ensure your CV is free of typos before it goes out. A typo-ridden CV shows that if you are putting in this little effort before joining a company, it only gets worse once you join.

Ensure your use of bullets, fonts, layering of your CV is consistent. Failing this will make your CV much harder to read and a recruiter with 20 CVs will likely bin yours. Nothing personal.

Tip #15 – Picture

This is not relevant in any way on a CV. Do not include.

Tip #16 – Magic!

Ensure your CV does not take a recruiter on a mesmerising journey such that at the end, they are not sure who you are. Let there be a nice flow and rhythm to your CV. Let others look at your CV and give you feedback regarding how understandable your CV is. If your CV is proving to be a mystery, it will likely end up in the bin.

Note, everything I have shared in here is my own views and it's not gospel. You may get opposing views from other folks so you need to make up your mind on how you present your CV.

I know lots of folks pay 100s of pounds to get their CV reviewed which can be a lot of money for some so hopefully this write up saves some folks from using the paid service. If you have found it useful, ensure you share share share!

Here is the link to the template I promised. Enjoy editing!!!

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