Curriculum Vitae Writing Tips

How do I prepare my Curriculum Vitae?

All your efforts must be underpinned by your mindset to convince your potential employer that you are ‘the one’. A good CV is critical to the process.  When preparing your CV these are some tips to be kept in mind:

  • Before beginning to write your CV, do a little background research of the organization that you are interested in. In other words, try and get a grasp of its vision, mission, its key officials, the Board of Management, etc. This information will stand you in good stead if you are selected for an interview.
  • The CV should be neatly typed and checked for grammar and spellings.
  • Information in the CV can be presented either chronologically or according to different aspects such as career history and timeframes. The latter is especially helpful if there are unexplained gaps in your work history.
  • The CV should be concise (some experts say a CV should not occupy more than two sides of an A4 sheet). This may be a bit difficult to accomplish, but what is important is that each entry should be precise and not overly informative. Keep to the absolutely essential information.
  • The CV should contain the following information that is positive, stressing on achievements and strengths:
    • The personal details (bio-data) of the applicant, i.e. full name, date of birth, address, contact phone number and email address (if any).
    • Your career history beginning with your most recent job, along with the period of employment. You may also include temporary and volunteer jobs if they are appropriate to the type of job you are applying for.
    • Provide an explanation if there are any unexplained gaps in your career history, because otherwise such gaps may be construed negatively.
    • Provide a summary of your achievements, experience and skills relevant to the job being applied for. This will help the interviewer to have a better understanding of you even before the formal interview.
    • The CV should include academic and professional qualifications and any relevant training you have undergone.
    • The CV should also list your interests, if relevant and if they contribute towards the job you are applying for.
    • Most employers expect at least two non-related referees. Give their names, designations, organizations and their contact phone numbers. A note of caution – REMEMBER to obtain their consent if you intend naming them as referees, indicating the job you have applied for and the name of the organization. (The referees should be previous employers at best).
    • Since your intention is to market your competencies to the best of your ability, you should tailor your CV to meet the specific job criteria. So it is vitally important that you carefully read the newspaper advertisement calling for applications. One size may not fit all.
    • You also need to attach a concise but informative covering letter with your CV, because it is this letter that will help you get your foot in the door, so to speak.


What should the cover letter contain?

Since the cover letter is the first intimation of your intention, it should:

  • Be dated and addressed to the correct official and his or her designation in the organization.
  • It should also carry your address and contact telephone number.
  • It will be good if you could find out whether the Human Resource Manager is a man or a woman and address the recipient as either Dear Sir or Dear Madam.
  • The subject line would be the job you are applying for.
  • The first line of the letter should indicate whether you are applying with reference to a newspaper advertisement, or through word of mouth. In the case of the latter, you might say something to the effect ‘On being given to understand that a vacancy for the post of ….. exists in your organization, I am submitting herewith my application for the above post’.
  • In the body of the letter, you will summarise your skills, experience and qualifications which are relevant to the job. It is through this information that you will be able to tweak the interest of the person short listing the applications. Remember you may be competing with hundreds of applicants, so you have a small window of opportunity to market yourself.
  • Convey enthusiasm in your letter but don’t overdo it.
  • Don’t exaggerate your capabilities.
  • If you have had a career break, indicate the reason and also if you have gained any skills or qualifications during that time.
  • Indicate why you feel that your qualifications, skills and experience would be appropriate for the job and what value-add your presence would bring to the company.
  • You could affix a current photograph of yourself to the letter.
  • Remember to sign off on your letter with the words ‘Yours faithfully’ and place your signature below. Just below that type your name with initials as appearing in your CV.