What is a CV?
A CV is an official document that contains the profile, educational and career background of a person.
In our part of the world, CV and a résumé means the same thing but in other climes, they mean different things entirely.
Some of us have been submitting CVs like forever and yet we don’t get interview invites. The problem is that your CV is not passing what is known as The 30 seconds Test. The 30 seconds test simply means that an employer or interviewer will decide if he’s going to employ you or not within 30 seconds of perusing your CV.
The Do’s and Donts of CV
1. Never start your CV with “Curriculum Vitae”. Start with your name boldly written with a larger font.
2. Ensure the address on your CV is the same with the location of the job. It will make interviewers consider you faster. e.g, if the job is in Lagos, apply with a Lagos address. If you don’t stay in the same location, look for someone you know that use same location.
3. Don’t use childish email address. Use an email address with your name. Don’t use email address such as email@example.com. It says a lot about your maturity and professionalism. You can use firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. If the name is already taken, add some numbers, e.g firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Under personal data or profile.
Some entities like date of birth, state, local government and nationality are not compulsory. As a matter of fact, if the age they need doesn’t favour you, just take off your date of birth. Keep the interviewer in doubt. Rather sell your skills.
5. Under educational background and dates, simply write your school, your course of study and then the year you graduated. Take off the year you got admission. Some people started school in 2005 and graduated in 2012 for a 4-year course. It might not be their fault but employers wouldn’t take it that way since you’re not there to defend it. So I repeat, write out only graduation year. Also, there’s no need for your grade (First class, 2.1, 2.2, etc). Just take it off.
6. Professional Certification is another area that’s making people lose out of job search in recent times. Under this section, most people don’t have what to put and it pisses off most employers. It means you haven’t done much to add value to yourself. If you are a Corp member here, try to do one or two professional course during your service year, else you will be submitting what we call a blank CV’.
For those working, you can use your weekends to achieve same. It will help you in your next job search. Under your work experience, you are expected to state where you worked, your job designation and your responsibilities. If you are no longer working in the firm, write your responsibilities in past tense. The current place of work can be written in present tense. However, all your work experiences need not go on your CV except the one relates to the job you’re applying for. it makes your CV concise.
** Under your hobbies and interest, you need to be careful of your choices. I once saw a CV that has playing video games as the applicant’s hobby. I quickly discarded the CV. Your hobbies should be within researching, meeting people, playing scrabble or chess, mentoring and travelling. But be sure you are into the hobbies as it could be placed before you one day.
9. Under your referees or references, please you are expected to have your referees name, address, phone number and email address. You can also use your family member as your referee but ensure you don’t use the same surname. Also, ensure your referees are aware you are using them as referees to avoid stories that touch.
10. An ideal CV should be in black and white not coloured except on two occasions: if you are applying as a graphic designer and you want to wow your employer or when your CV has the logo of the company you’ve worked before under your job experience.
11. Never forward a CV from your inbox to another employer. Open and compose a fresh mail then upload your CV and send.
12. When sending your CV, make sure the subject carries the job role you are applying for.
13. Don’t save your CV on your laptop or phone as ‘My CV’ or Edited CV’. Simple save it with your full name, e.g Adebayo Michael Samuel.
14. When sending your CV, don’t leave the email page blank. Copy your cover letter and post on the email page. Forget the usual ‘Sir, kindly find attached herewith for your .
15. You don’t need to append your passport photo on your CV except the employer request for it which is quite rare.
What is a Cover Letter?A cover letter is a letter used in applying for a job position. It tells the employer your achievement(s) and how you can replicate same achievement in his firm if considered for the job.
In fact, a cover letter allows you sell yourself to an employer, making him see what he stands to gain should he employ you. The major idea behind cover letters is to enable you seduce your would-be boss to see you as the best candidate.
However, we have to be careful with our choice of words so we don’t brag instead of selling our skills. We have three major types of cover letters and they all play different roles:
1. Speculative or cold calling cover letters
2.Cover letters in response to job adverts
3. Cover letters with names dropping.
Now, we send speculative or cold calling cover letters to firms we are not sure have vacancies but we want to work there. You send such cover letters and then send a follow-up letter three weeks later. The idea is to put yourself in the eyes of the employer.
2. Cover letters response to job adverts have taken over application letters. It is written to woo an employer that you are the right candidate for the job. Here, you look at the skills they need the candidate to have and tell the employer you can do it. You also tell the employer problems you’ve solved in the past. It could be when you made your students do well in WAEC during your Youth Service year or when you made a good sales for your former/present firm.
Even your social media skills can be brought in by telling your employer that you would use it to project the firm to people.
3. Cover letters with name dropping is used when you are recommended by someone to a company. On the letter, you will need to state who recommended you and address the letter to the particular person you were told to write. It takes the form of speculative cover letter but only has names stated on it.
So in a nutshell, cover letters are to make you sell your skills, so give the employer your best shot.
Ok. I will like to address some interview questions and how to answer them.
1. MAY WE MEET YOU?
You are not expected to tell them your life history of how you are the last born and related to your village head. All they want to know are your name, educational background and career background. e.g My name is Michael Jacob, a graduate of Mechanical Engineer from University of Lagos and also a career engineer.
2. WHY SHOULD WE HIRE YOU?
This gives you an opportunity to sell yourself. Tell them about your qualification, experience (if you have) and skills. I should be hired because I’m academically qualified for the job. I also have the needed experience and skills needed to carry out the task I’m being interview for.
3. ARE YOU MOBILE?
If you like tell them ‘Yes, I have a car’ or ‘Of course! who doesn’t have a phone?’. You are on your own.What they are simply asking is are you free to relocate from your present location if we employ you?’. If it’s possible, simply say ‘yes’.
4. CAN YOU TELL A LIE TO PROTECT THE INTEREST OF THIS FIRM IF EMPLOYED?
This question is meant to cage you to ‘one corner’. I know you all know the song.
If you say ‘yes’, it means you can’t be trusted. If you say ‘no’, it means you don’t have the interest of the firm at heart. So what do you say?
Simply Tell them, ‘As a professional, I will do anything within my powers to protect the interest of my company’. ‘within my powers’ is an open statement. That means if you can lie, you will. If you can’t lie, you will
5. HOW MANY BOYFRIENDS/GIRLFRIENDS DO YOU HAVE?
This is a tricky one. Don’t go self destructive by telling them,’ I have two boyfriends sir, Emeka and Peter. In case, Emeka disappoints me’.
They are not interested in your affairs. This is a ‘perfunctory’ question meant to probe your disposition. They want to know how sociable you are. So answer this way, Sir; I have many friends and if given the opportunity to work here, I will make sure they do business with this firm.
COMMON INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR GRADUATES
1. Tell us about yourself?
The interviewer is not interested in hearing stories; they simply expect to know your academic and professional achievements, your name and the institution you currently work for. Take a minutes to introduce yourself, and state your recent academic qualification and your relevant experience (if any).
2. Why do you think you are the best candidate?
The recruiter expects you to tell them about your professional achievements and the unique skills you possess that will add value to the organization. If you are a Customer Care graduate then you should tell them that you are a good listener and patient; these are the qualities the employer is looking for.
3. What are your weaknesses?
The question is not simple as it looks; most candidates go blank when they face this kind of question. Take your time in explaining why you can’t leave the office before you complete a task. You can also inform them how you are quick to trust a person, which in most cases makes you a victim.
4. Where do you see yourself in five years?
The employer wants to know whether you are ambitious or you’re the kind of a person who secures a job and then you forget about yourself. Answer the question by stating how you intend to further your studies and grow professionally as you strive to meet your employer’s goals. (It is important to tie your goals to your employer’s goals because no employer would be willing to hire and invest in a rookie who will leave their organization in a year or less after they have invested in training the individual)
5. How do friends describe you?
The question is testing your personal attributes, when answering it ensure that you don’t over exaggerate. Take the shortest time possible to state the best attribute you possess that you believe will add value to the institution.
6. What do you know about this company?
Before you enter the interview room, ensure that you go through the company website to read latest news, company profile, goals, management team, objectives, vision and mission; they will help you answer this question.(where the company is unknown, do your research and be familiar with the business/industry you desire to build your career) The question expects you to briefly describe what you read on their website and not what you imagine of the company.
7. Do you have any question to ask the panel?
This is usually the last question that the interview panel asks interviewees; if you fail to ask them questions, you will lose some marks, always have a question to ask no matter what. Ask them whether they have plans to expand their business, whether they support employees to further their studies and how they motivate employees. You can pull a surprise by asking when you can start, it shows confidence.
8. What is your salary expectation?
The question is tricky because as a fresh graduate you don’t have a clue what to be paid; simply ask them what they pay others of your level, if they fail to give a satisfactory answer then give them a reasonable range. Ensure you do your research before you go for interview room because you must be asked this question.