By Goke Ilesanmi
Last week, we said the evidence section is the second part of an effective CV. We explained that by evidence, we refer to all the mandatory and optional information you must include on your CV, e.g. chronological work history with dates, education, affiliations, list of software mastered, etc. We stressed that it is better to place all this information in the second half of the CV and put the strong part in the beginning, and all the less exciting information afterwards.
This segment has advantages and disadvantages. Advantages: It can indicate a skill or area of knowledge which is related to the goal, such as “playing football”, for somebody looking for a job as a Physical Education teacher; or “travelling and networking”, for somebody looking for a job as a marketing or sales manager. It can show well-roundedness, good physical health, or knowledge of a subject related to the goal. It can create common ground or spark conversation in an interview.
Disadvantages: It may be irrelevant to the job goal and curriculum vitae purpose, and therefore may be meaningless. You probably should not include a personal interests segment. Your reason for including it is most likely that you want to tell your prospective employer about yourself. But do not forget that your CV is an advert of a kind. If this segment would powerfully move the prospective employer to understand why you would be the best candidate, include it, otherwise, forget about it.
Put “References available upon request” at the end of your CV. It is not necessary to include references as part of your CV. Instead, prepare a separate reference sheet and bring it to the interview if or when it is requested by the prospective employer.
Details of other CV formats
The chronological CV is the more traditional structure for a CV. The Experience section constitutes the major focus. Each job or the last several jobs are described in some detail and there is no major section of skills or accomplishments at the beginning of the CV. This structure is primarily used when you are staying in the same profession, in the same type of work, particularly in very conservative fields such as law and the academia. However, it is recommended that the chronological CV should always have an objective or summary, to guide a prospective employer.
One of the advantages of a typical chronological CV is that it may appeal to older, more traditional prospective employers and be best in very conservative fields. Additionally, it makes it easier to understand what you did in what job. It may help the name of the employer stand out more, if this is impressive. The disadvantage is that it is much more difficult to highlight what you do best. This format is rarely appropriate for someone making a career change.
The functional CV highlights the major skills and accomplishments right from the beginning. It helps the prospective employer to see clearly what the applicant can do for him or her, rather than having to read through the job descriptions to find out. It helps target the CV towards a new direction or field, by lifting up from all past jobs the key skills and qualifications to help prove you will be successful in this new direction or field. Actual company names and positions are in a subordinate position, with no description under each. There are different types of formats for functional CVs. The functional CV is a must for career changers, but is very appropriate for generalists, for those with divergent careers, for those with a wide range of skills in their given profession, for students and for those who want to make slight shifts in their career direction.
It is pertinent to note that this type of CV is not without its advantages and disadvantages. As far as advantages are concerned, this type of CV will help you most in reaching for a new goal. It is a very effective type of CV, and is highly recommended. However, one of the disadvantages is that it is hard to know what the applicant did in which job, which may be a negative to some conservative interviewers.
Guidelines for a better CV presentation
Your CV should be visually enticing. It should be simple and clean. It should be very easy-to-read, un-crowded and balanced. Include as much white space between every two sections of writing as possible. The sections of writing should not be longer than six lines. Make maximum use of italics, capital letters, bullets, boldface, and underlining, with uniformity and consistency. Employ total parallelism or uniformity in design decisions. For instance, if a full-stop is at the end of one job’s date, a period should be at the end of all jobs’ dates; if a degree is in boldface, all degrees should be in boldface.
Remember to think of the CV as an advertisement. Make sure it is error-free. That is, no typographical or spelling errors. No grammatical or punctuation errors. No factual errors. All the basic, expected information is included. A CV must have the following key information: your name, address, and phone number (immediately identifiable and at the very top of the first page), a listing of all jobs held since beginning your career, in reverse chronological order, educational degrees including the highest degree received, in reverse chronological order. Additionally, targeted information will of course accompany this. Much of the information people commonly put on a CV can be omitted but these ones are mandatory.
A CV should be targeted towards your goal, to the ideal next step in your career. Highlight your strengths and de-emphasise your weaknesses. Focus on whatever is most impressive.
To be continued
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GOKE ILESANMI (FIIM, FIMC, CMC), CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Professional Public Speaker, Career Mgt Coach and Certified Mgt Consultant. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant. Tel: 08056030424; 08055068773; 08187499425