I have applied for several jobs, some unsolicited and some solicited. Some it was just a call, “Please send me your CV.” But at the end they yielded no fruit. I told myself that “If only they give me a chance for an interview. I will dazzle them…” Alas, the moments of interview did not come. All the while, I was focusing on the wrong thing – the interview. I did not realize how important the CV and cover letter were until quite recently.
I do not want you to go through futile attempts before learning a lesson. I want your application to yield fruit on the first attempt. This article is to share my thoughts on 2 important things: The CV and The Cover Letter.
Curriculum Vitae (CV)/Résumé: – a summary of your relevant job experience and education. It also includes your accomplishments, skills and publications.
Cover letter: – A brief (less than one page) letter of introduction attached to, accompanying and explaining an enclosed submission such as a résumé or curriculum vitae.
A few things to note for your CV and Cover Letter.
1. Research – Knowledge is Power.
a. For a solicited application, most times the requirements of the jobs are stated such as years of experience and required education. Find out more about what the job entails and determine if you have the relevant requirements. Even if it is just one or two, build on that you think they want. Highlight in the Cover Letter and put details in the CV.
b. For an unsolicited application, you need to find out what the employer would want in the kind of job you hope to be doing with them. This can be done through insider information or through information on the web i.e. if you are applying for the job of an accountant, find out what an/the accountant does in the organization.
c. Find out what are the organization’s goals and strategy. Are they thinking of doubling their profit? How can you contribute to that? Are they thinking of reducing impact on the environment? What knowledge, skill or experience do you have to help them with that? Do not forget to highlight how you can contribute in your cover letter.
d. Find out what they want. Do they want a 1 page CV or a detailed CV? This would form the basis for the type of CV you would write. Do not use generic CVs – 1 CV for all job applications. Prepare different CVs for different job positions.
2. While writing the CV and Cover Letter…
a. Use clear simple language.
b. Go straight to the point. They have other people’s CVs to read.
c. Use templates if you cannot be creative. Templates help you put the information in chronology and points out the headings that should be captured in the CV.
d. Sell yourself. I repeat Sell yourself. There is nothing to be shy or modest about. A lot of people are applying for jobs everyday. The CV is a very important criterion to determine whether you will be called or not. If requested, expound on your relevant education and experience. For instance, if you are applying for the job of a webmaster, your 5 year experience as a truck driver would not be relevant. It can be mentioned. Expand on what trainings, experiences, jobs and skills you have (no matter how little) with regards the job as webmaster.
What are your strengths? Are you a team player, are you a leader, and are you creative? What situations have you employed these strengths? How is it relevant to the job application?
e. Other information. Your hobbies, interests, awards and publications might just be a trigger to call you for an interview. Probably you once were a football captain in secondary school. You never know if this organization you are applying to also needs someone that would be part of their Youth Development Program on football training. So rather than stating “Hobbies – football” say “Hobbies – I enjoy football. I was a football captain during XXX to YYY and led my team to 2 victories at the ZZZ Tournament”.
For more information about successful CVs, please visit HERE (http://www.soon.org.uk/cvpage.htm)
3. Editing is important.
Typographical errors and wrong spellings can put off the reader of your CV. He would probably draw some conclusions like “does not pay attention to details hence not fit to work for us.” Proofread, edit and also ask someone else to go through it.
4. Pray over your application.
Your CV is like a seed you are sowing in different places. Pray that your CV yields fruit. The word of God reminds us that the king’s heart is in the hand of God and as the rivers of water, He turns it wherever He pleases [Proverbs 21:1]. Let those that read your CV love it, have their heart on you and accept you even before the interview.
My advice to fresh graduates with little experience:
1. Do not worry about relevant experience. Some organizations are looking for fresh graduates that they would train. An employer cannot expect so much from a fresh graduate. Things like your internship and vacation job experiences will count though.
2. Focus on your strengths.
Remain blessed. May opportunities come your way and may you know they are opportunities. In Jesus Name, Amen.
By Rita Okoroafor
Christian blogger – http://erolyrics.blogspot.com