Do you know what the number one problem in writing a good CV is?

It’s making a good impression.

You only have 5 seconds to do that. What will you do to get shortlisted for that next assignment with the UN, AFDB, World Bank or any other NGO?

Your first point of call is to write a WOW resume that will get your foot in your recruiter’s door for an interview.

In this blog, I will give you some underrated yet powerful tips that will increase your chances among thousands of other competitors for the same position.

Let’s get started.

Know the requirements

Do you know that there is a difference between a CV and a resume?

A CV is generally a longer more comprehensive document and mostly used in the academic field.

A resume, on the other hand, is a shorter more pertinent document but generally, we tend to use the term interchangeably.

It really depends on circumstances but let’s not get bogged down in technicalities.

“Your CV or resume is your marketing representative and as such you want it to represent who you are and what value add you will bring to a prospective employer.”

You want your CV to represent you well and stand out from the crowd.

There are five general tips that you can use when writing your resume, namely:

  1. Font
  2. Formatting and layout
  3. Length
  4. Content
  5. Proofreading

You may have heard of the old marketing adage 5-second rule that says it takes 5 seconds to make a first impression.

This applies not only to you as an individual but also to your CV/resume.

  • Font

First things first, use a font size that is easy to read – size 10 or 11 is a good one. Settle for a conservative font type style that’s not too fancy.

Something like Calibri or Times New Roman is well-fitting.

It is standard and it will not take away from the content of the CV.

I have seen some resumes that have used a tiny font size to make things fit on a page – making it very difficult to read.

You don’t want to do this as it may frustrate the recruiter.

  • Formatting and layout  

Next, pay attention to formatting and layout and ensure that there is consistency.

For instance, if you are using bullets ensure that all bullets are the same style.

Margins should also be consistent throughout the document. Ensure that there is enough “white space” in your resume.

  • Length

Remember recruiters are going through tons of CVs. I was talking to a recruiter who is a colleague the other day and she told me that they had 5367 CVs going through their systems that they needed to physically go through.

With this in mind, you want your resume to be as “to the point” as possible.

There is no sense in having a 6-page document listing all the jobs you have ever had and the responsibilities you held in those jobs.

Keep your resume to a maximum of 3 pages.

  • Content Construction

We move on to content. When writing a resume, it is assumed to be in the first person, but you drop the “I”.

For example, you would not write, “I am a detail-oriented emergency preparedness expert.”

Instead, you would state, “Detail-oriented emergency preparedness expert with over 15 years’ experience in international development and aid.”

You should never write in the third person. You also want to construct your sentences well. Ensure you are not using passive sentences.

  • Proofread, proofread and proofread!

Lastly, and more importantly, you cannot afford to send a resume out with any mistake no matter how “small” it is. Proofread your CV.

Read it out loud. Give it to someone else to read it for you.

Print it and review it as presented on paper.

To wrap up

These tips are, of course, a tip of the iceberg as far as resume writing goes. Like you often hear ‘Content is King’. A bit more thought must be invested in:

  • how you sell yourself,
  • what you include in your sections
  • the way in which you talk about yourself and your work.

To demonstrate that you are the right fit for the job in question, you need to nail your details and descriptions. The structure and content of the resume are of great importance and we will talk about it in our next discussion as that deserves a spotlight.

In the case that you need a one on one consultation to improve your resume follow this link to schedule a call with the Lead Consultant Batje Chibafa.

Author: Batje Chibafa, HumHr Managing Partner

Batje has over ten years’ experience in multi-cultural experience in Human Resources, implementing Organizational Development HR strategies across all facets of the HR function. Proven history of success implementing strategic improvements, creating productive business partners, and providing value to organizations. Demonstrated strength in evaluating processes and determining cost-effective solutions to increase efficiency and improve accuracy. Has excellent organizational development and facilitation skills with a passion for positive change.

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