Your job application CV is the first and most critical marketing tool you have in your quest for a new job in Kenya in 2017. Knowing that many other qualified job seekers will be applying for the same role, you then need to make the most of the opportunity in presenting the best of you before the employer.
When applying for the job vacancy, you must ensure your CV is clear, concise and highlights the relevant experience effectively.
Prior to sending out the CV, take time and review it so as to present and capture the following critical areas in the best manner possible since the employer will be on the lookout for the same.
1. The Front sheet
This is the doorway to the inside of your CV. You must make it appealing that the employer will want to walk past it into other “rooms” and inspect the interiors. If the doorway is not appealing then the journey ends abruptly.
Give you front sheet the best professional layout since it is the summary that must tell of who you are. Your CV front sheet should include your name, your current location, relevant experience, notice period, education and other relevant notes.
While designing your CV front sheet to merit the employers attention, remember the following key points:
- Center your name at the top of your resume in a font that’s slightly different and bolder than the rest of your resume
- Arrange the front page of your resume so the layout appears balanced
- Choose your fonts carefully – resist getting “font-happy,” using too large a variety, or hard-to-read fonts
- Keep your most essential information in the quadrants aligned to the left. The reader’s eye is drawn to the left quadrants
- Use bulleted lists with no more than two lines per bullet. Short statements are easier to read than long paragraphs.
2. Personal statement
The strength of your CV arises from the strength, format and authenticity of your personal statement.
Draft a strong and relevant statement by making it short (ideally between 30 – 60 words) and to the point. Give it a personal touch since that can be felt when reading it.
To give the statement a job winning punch, ensure you outline your abilities, achievements and career motivations.
Resist the temptation of using standard online templates which lists all manner of soft skills that everyone claim to have. Show genuinely what you got so that you can stand out in the sea of all other job applicants.
3. Work History
This should be the most in-depth part of your CV. It should demonstrate the value you have delivered in your past and current roles.
Your most recent role will be of big interest to the potential employer thus you should start by mentioning it and the value add. Other previous but relevant roles should be listed in the same manner. Roles executed ten years ago as an intern may bring no clout to the table so ignore them.
For a graduate candidate fresh from campus, you will need to highlight your volunteer roles, intern opportunities or any entrepreneurial ventures you have or are currently pursuing.
Remember to show the value you delivered and not just a list of roles and responsibilities.
While reading your CV, the employer should pick out certain keywords that consistently speak of your skills, experience and ability in line with the job in question.
Ensure that the important key words contained in the main body of your experience are also represented in your work history.
Failure to address this might look like you just copied and pasted the key words in the job specification but has no real experience in this area.
5. Employment Gaps
If you have any gaps, then it is important to explain them. Do not leave room for speculation by the employer. They will always speculate to your detriment.
If you were engaged in certain side projects during the gap period, then mention it in your CV. It demonstrates a proactive individual and one who is curious to learn and keep self abreast with developments in that particular industry.
6. Online Presence
This is fast becoming a strong selling point to many job candidates.
If you have created an online footprint by developing content to certain Industry based publications or journals or you are running a though leadership portal, make sure you provide a link to the same in your CV.
This depicts a candidates who is passionate about his/her industry
7. Geographical location
While working with a professional services firm, I occasionally fell into the trap of assuming all job seekers were resident in Nairobi and readily available. This was catalysed by the candidates who never indicated their current geographical logistics in the CV.
Make sure you indicate your location in your CV to guide the employer in making the best decision when you need to be contacted for interviews.
8. Length of your CV
Brief and to the point will do you great justice in your job search endeavour. Unnecessarily long CV’s will disengage the reader and the content as well.
To avoid this trap, always customise you CV for every new job opportunity in the Kenyan job market and avoid the habit of simply adding your current roles and experience to the existing document.
Any CV more than three pages should be reviewed again before you send it out.
Bad grammar, wrong tense and misspellings are annoying. It is not the role of the employer to figure out what you were trying to say through the misspelled terms and wrongly applied tenses.
Always pick a voice, a tense, and stick to it. I will recommend the use of third person and past tense and eliminate pronouns (e.g. My, I, She, He) from their resume altogether.
I meant exactly that. Too much information in your CV is unnecessary, avoid it. It brings out an immature character besides exposing you to unnecessary discrimination.
How many children you have, your marital status, your religious affiliation etc are all unnecessary and they do not give any pointer to your ability to do the job being applied for.
While applying for the job vacancy, do not be in a hurry to hit the send button. Instead take time and review your CV to make sure that it stands out.
Extra vigilance will make you look professional and credible before the employer courtesy of your well thought out and drafted CV.
Follow the above guide to ensure that you have that ‘punch on the nose’ CV which will get you noticed.