CV writing isn’t for the lazy, especially in a country like Nigeria where there are thousands, if not millions, scrambling for that same position you are vying for. Writing the job-getting CV is often considered a daunting task (nothing good comes easy); however, with the right guidelines, you can easily create an attention-grabbing resume that would boast of your achievements in your absence.
Various observations have shown that Nigerians don’t put in much effort when writing their resume. They believe that as long as they include the important elements such as work experience, educational qualifications, and bio-data, BAM, the CV is complete, and the position they are applying for is theirs.
This is wrong on many counts. Your CV should be an account or narration of yourself. What should the HR see when looking at your resume? He/she wants YOU to talk about YOURSELF in YOUR own very words, and in the best way possible.
Your CV should tell the hiring manager about yourself, your profile, years of experience, your achievements, and why you are perfectly qualified for the job than other candidates. Note that the process of reviewing tons of resumes from prospective applicants isn’t a fishcake for the hiring manager; hence, you won’t find them sitting down comfortably and sipping a cup of coffee on your CV while others are waiting.
However, one rule you should you should keep in mind is that there’s no “one best way” to write a CV. You have the right to be creative, but there are certain elements that MUST be included. These elements include: bio-data, personal profile, educational qualifications, work experience, trainings/internships (if any), achievements (if any), hobbies (optional) and referees.
Bear in mind that every detail you include in your resume must be meticulously considered and articulately presented. As a rule of the thumb, present your most flattering qualities or achievements up front and then move gradually to the less flattering ones. Every template can be amended to suit a particular requirement at any given time.
When writing your CV in Nigeria, presentation is everything! Your content, layout, template, font type, font size, line spacing, bullets and borders are crucial in achieving an awesome CV. For example, if an applicant with 3 years’ experience and another with 6 years’ experience are both vying for the same job, the ONLY thing that differentiates both is the way they present their work experiences (plus of course their cover letter).
Typically, CVs are of two kinds:
They are education-based type and experienced-based type. The first is used when you have no work experience (fresh graduate), or you are applying for a research role in an educational institution. The major rule to adhere to here is to ensure that your educational/professional qualifications come first before other information.
The latter, on the other hand revolves around the skills you have gained while working. Your experience should be listed from the most recent to the oldest, not forgetting to display your accomplishments. For both CV types, note that one CV type might not be suitable for all industries; thus, you have to adapt each CV for each industry.
How to write a CV in Nigeria: Step by step guide
Usually, a CV should contain the following information:
1. Personal profile/Bio-data
Your name, address, age (not compulsory), phone number and email address are essential information that should be listed when writing your personal profile. Ensure that this information is placed in a strategic location and in legible fonts, which makes it easily noticeable for the hiring manager/employer.
Also, ensure that the data listed are current (you’d be surprised to discover that some job seekers list email addresses and house addresses that aren’t theirs!).
Unless you are a fresh graduate, a profile is more suitable when crafting your CV. An objective is simply a goal, while a profile is a brief description that summarizes your qualities, where you are coming from, and where you hope to be. Your profile shouldn’t be more than two sentences or a maximum of three sentences.
3. Work experience
Your work experience should indicate the name of the company, your designation/title, your job description and the duration of your service. The address of the company isn’t necessary unless you are applying for a job outside of your state or country of residence.
Remember to list your experience in a chronological order (from most recent to least recent). Also stick to the present tense when describing your current job position, and link your job experience to the position you are applying for. It would increase your resume’s visibility.
This is a break-down of the exceptional accomplishments you have bagged over time. Your achievements are intended to score you extra points with the hiring manger or potential employer. It could be a record breaking GP while in school, an award, a supposed target, an impeccable records, etc.
5. Education and qualifications (starting with the highest)
e.g.: 2009 – University of Ilorin
- B.Sc. Political Science & Comparative Politics
- Excellent interpersonal skills and fluency in three foreign languages – French, Italian and Chinese.
- Graduated with a first class grade of 4.8 and won the “Best Graduating Student” award.
6. Interests and/or abilities
Keep this section short. Major points to note here are:
- Avoid clichés: Clichés are a no-no when writing a CV. Erase words like “team player”, “motivated” “organized”. Trust me; your CV would be lost in a sea of other resumes. Instead, use creative words.
- Be specific about your hobbies: Replace I gym with “I visit the gym every weekend”. This tells the employer that you are disciplined.
- If you have demonstrated leadership skills at any time, be sure to include them here. Ex: I was the Head Boy of Dee Unique College, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun from 2008-2009. During my tenure, the school won 5 academic awards through various competitions I participated in.
- Also add volunteering jobs (if any) or any other interests that are relevant to the job you’re applying for.
Normally, two references are required. If you are a fresh graduate, your references should be one academic (from lecturer or project supervisor) and the other from an employer (probably from your internship or NYSC). For applicants with experience, your references should be higher professionals in your filed.
Remember that the lesser the pages of a CV, the grater the attention it receives. Your CV shouldn’t look like a handout. A 2-page (maximum of 3) is excellent. Your resume should be succinct and convincing. For design, check out for grammatical errors and misspellings, and use a quality A4 white/cream paper. Use good font like Times New Roman and Verdana. Normal font size is 12, with larger sizes for subheadings.
As a rule of the thumb, your CV should follow the KISS (Keep It Short and Simple) rule.