By Goke Ilesanmi
To stay ahead of competition as an organisation, entrepreneur, job-seeker or student in this digital age that the scope of competition has become wide, you need to identify and persuasively communicate your outstanding organisational or personal competence, also called “Unique Selling Point”. Company profiles, personal profiles and curriculum vitae (CV) are some of the persuasive documents with which organisations, corporate executives, employees and job-seekers can effectively sell themselves amidst stiff competition.
But it is surprising that while most corporate organisations and entrepreneurs have their corporate and personal profiles written in a very informative and ordinary way, many employees and job-seekers too have their curriculum vitae written in a chronological, ordinary and informative way that can hardly get them their desired jobs.
Fundamentals of CV
Some years ago, a man who had earlier called me on phone came in, sweating profusely and almost gasping for breath. His facial expression betrayed his mood. He was seriously sad because he had graduated five years earlier from one of the reputable universities in Nigeria but could not get a job, despite having a second upper grade in Accounting. He attributed his predicament to “spiritual forces”. At this stage, I had no option but to laugh. He looked at me questioningly, probably wondering why I could be that trivial and heartless.
I had to cut him short by requesting to see his curriculum vitae (CV). I looked at it and shook my head because it was the usual chronological CV that usually deprives job-seekers invitation for interviews. I told him my bill for preparing a Combined Chronological Functional CV and an assertive cover letter, which I had been invited twice by the University of Lagos and once by the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye to teach as a guest lecturer. He paid and I prepared them. Within a month, interview letters started flowing in his direction in torrents and he then saw that it was not a spiritual problem, after all. So, Let us discuss what a real CV is.
Curriculum vitae (CV) has a persuasive motive. It is a tool with the aim of winning an interview. Indeed, it is an advertisement. A great CV does not just tell a prospective employer what you have done but presents you in the best light. It convinces the prospective employer that you have what it takes to be successful in the new position. Nicholas Lore, an international career management expert says it is a mistake to think of your CV as a history of your past, as a personal statement or as some sort of self-expression. Surely, most of the content of any CV is focused on the job history. But, endeavour to write with the intention to create interest, to persuade the prospective employer to call you. If you write with that goal, your final product will be very different from when you are writing to inform or catalogue your job history.
Most people write their CV anyhow. If you realise that a great CV can be your gateway to getting your dream job, you will definitely develop real interest in creating an enviable masterpiece, rather than the despicable ones most people compose. Research shows that only one interview is granted for every 200 CVs received by a prospective employer, and that each CV is quickly scanned, rather than read. A period of between ten and twenty seconds is all the time you have to persuade a prospective employer to read further. The implication of this is that the decision to interview a candidate is usually based on an overall first impression that his or her CV is able to create.
Therefore, the top half of the first page of your CV will either make or mar your chances. By the time a prospective employer has read the first few lines, you may or may not arouse his or her interest. This is why it is said that your CV is an advertisement. Ensure that it has the same result as a well-written advert: to get the reader to respond.
To write a CV that is effective and persuasive, you need to learn the strategy of writing a powerful, but subtle advertising copy. Note that the best-advertised product is often bought more than the best product. If you have a masterpiece of a CV, you will always get a better response from prospective employers than people with better credentials but without a good CV.
However, do not make false claims on your CV just for the sake of getting invited for an interview. Integrity is very important.
You should focus on the prospective employers’ needs not yours. Usually, the person who makes the hiring decision is also the person who is responsible for the bottom-line productivity of the project or group you hope to join. This is a person who cares deeply about how well the job will be done. Therefore, you need to write your CV in such a way that will appeal directly to him or her. Ask yourself questions such as What would make someone the best candidate? What does the employer really want? If you are in search of a job in a field you have enough knowledge of, think of what would make someone a superior candidate.
If you are not sure, you can ask other people who work for the same company or in the same field. You can even call the prospective employer and ask him or her what he or she wants because if you are not addressing his or her real needs, he or she will not respond to your CV. Putting yourself in the position of the person doing the hiring is the first and most important step in writing a CV that markets you rather than describes your history. Every step in producing a finished document should be part of your overall intention to convey to the prospective employer that you are a truly-exceptional candidate.
Therefore, be clear on what the employer is looking for and what you have to offer before you begin your CV. Write your answers to the first question What would make someone the perfect candidate? on a sheet of paper, one answer per page. Prioritise the sheets of paper, based on which qualities or abilities you think would be most important to the person doing the hiring. Then, starting with the top priority page, fill the rest of that page, or as much of it as you can, with brainstorming about why you are the person who best fulfils the employer’s needs. Write down everything you have ever done that demonstrates that you fit perfectly with what is wanted and needed by the prospective employer.
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