06 March 2020 * 8 min read

Written by Jide Rotilu

I’ll like to talk about CVs today. A thread. I’ve reviewed thousands of CVs since I left Deloitte to start up my firm @tbcaco. These CVs come either as job roles at tbca.co or on a Recruitment/Human Capital project for a #TBCA client. The thread is from the vantage point of a Business Owner. Lets help job seekers create #betterCVs.

Many people don’t know how to structure or write proper CVs not to now talk about the Cover letter which most relegate to a CTRL-C, CTRL-V, CTRL-F (find the old role, replace with the new role being applied to), then upload on the recruiters site.

Between 2010 and 2012, I must have applied to maybe a thousand job roles. No kidding. From the vantage point of an entrepreneur, I now see several mistakes I made. Let’s see if this thread can help at least 1 person. It’s for Nigerians and also globally applicable, and the premise will be maybe for a mid-senior role. Let’s start with the NOs.

NO 1: The page length of the CV: If you can’t do one page, please stop at two pages. Beyond 2 pages for certain roles, reviewers switch off. Many reviewers may be bogged down reviewing 300+ CVs in a short timeline, they need to get your gist in about 1 minute, at least for initial filtering, and then they spend more time on your CV down the funnel. #betterCVs

NO 2: Your picture. Please No, no, no. Your picture opens up bias from the reviewer i.e. because your picture is there, it could tilt a reviewer to be biased against or for your application. Reviewers are human, and even under all the professionalism, there is still a level of subjectivity. It’s riskier to have a picture in your CV so please take it out. #betterCVs

NO 3: You may have worked in a company that not many people have heard of before. Please kindly put in a line describing what the company does, and also the website of the company. e.g TBCA Technologies (www.tbca.co) — #TBCA is a digital talent marketplace that helps global businesses find and manage on-demand experts. #betterCVs

NO 4: This is personal but I hate templates. Imagine reviewing 50 CVs at a go that all use the same templates — same color schema, same design, same everything. If you can add your take and design from scratch that will be lovely. #betterCVs

NO 5: Please remove watermarks of ‘DRAFT’, ‘DO NOT COPY’. This is not OK. I don’t know where this came from. I have minutes to assess if you are going to the next stage or not. We are looking for reasons to take you forward. I need you to give me a reason to take you forward, not reasons to drop your CV. #betterCVs

NO 6: First name, middle name, middle name1, middle name2, middle name3, Last name. Please it does not matter just be simple. e.g @jiderotilu Jide Rotilu. You can put in one middle name. #betterCVs

Please Attn. serious one here: Sometimes yea, you and another individual may have the same name. Depending on controls in place, you may unluckily be mistaken for the other person. This may be one of the worst things that can happen to anybody. The silver lining is it’s not your fault. It’s the reviewers’ process that’s faulty. #betterCVs

NO 7: Some company names just don’t inspire confidence. In this case, I don’t know what to say. You may have the best role ever, but the company name may be a hindrance. (I laughed writing this). Consider giving more detail about the company, or exclude the company if it’s not strong. (Explain the gap later) #betterCVs

NO 8: Many people say to make your CV stand out. The only thing that should stand out is the clarity of your content, let me see everything I need to see without stress. Use a font that is sensible or maybe go for safe fonts e.g. Calibri, Arial, Verdana, TNR. Don’t put in Comic Sans. Please don’t send a CV with images and this is not the time to experiment with colors especially if it’s not a creative role being applied for. #betterCVs

NO 9: I do not need your home address, I do not need your marital status, I do not need your gender, I do not need your height/weight, state of origin. Generally, professional companies do not ask for any of these. #betterCVs

NO 10: If you know your skill sets are tangential to the requirements as stated in the JD, please don’t apply. It’s insulting to everybody including you. The time waste alone will make your CV be a hard ‘NEXT PLEASE’. You can’t pray it into existence, if the skillsets are far apart, then be humble and see how to get an internship position and grow through the ladder. #betterCVs

NO 11: Creating your CV in Notepad. Please try not to. Notepad removes every form of formatting and the CV looks extra bland. Poor formatting, different texts, different font sizes, different font colors. #betterCVs

NO 12: Don’t tell me about your life issues or any shortcomings. Not the right time. #betterCVs

NO 13: Don’t tell me about social media accounts. #betterCVs

Yes 1: Put the location of where you worked (City, State, Country). Some companies value diversity in your history. Show it off, where you worked and cultures you interacted with. #betterCVs

Yes 2: CV Structure. — Let’s be simple. Consider starting like this Full name at the top, Telephone number, and email address. Segue into your Education. You can create a table and list your educational history in reverse chronological order. The 1st column is the year, 2nd is school name (and maybe activities or societies you were a part of in school), 3rd the degree from the school and class of result. If the result does not make sense, then avoid putting it at the onset. If there are any striking major achievements (e.g Grammy award winner), put it after this section. #betterCVs

Yes 3: Then let’s go into your professional experience. Tell me the company name, succinct description of the company’s activities, date, location and role in the company. Give me 3 to 4 bullet points of what you did in the company, your responsibilities, and your specific contribution. Be as specific and as quantitative as possible. Throw in real numbers here. Talk-talk is too much, give hard numbers, what impact did you have in this role. e.g ‘I developed a process map for my department’s workflow that eliminated 20% waste, and saved the company $50k over 3 months.’ Wherever you can squeeze in your keywords, squeeze them in. #betterCVs

Yes 4: Repeat above for your 2 -3 most recent jobs. No need to tell me about 15 jobs you’ve worked at. If you worked for Lockheed Martin 12 jobs ago, and you are so sure that brand may help your current application, I’ll suggest you subtly put it in somewhere. Also, only write things you know you can talk about and discuss when called. (Use facts). #betterCVs

Yes 5: Use past tense for all completed roles and please put the effort in the formatting of your CV, so it’s easy on the eyes. Please. #betterCVs

Yes 6: Let’s go into part 2 of the resume, let’s call it additional information. Here tell me about your professional qualifications. Also please be specific and don’t exaggerate. Completing a diploma in accounting and business from ACCA is not the same thing as mentioning you are ACCA qualified. Be careful not to misrepresent your qualifications. Don’t write CCNP certified, if you have not covered all the exams or requirements needed. #betterCVs

Yes 7: After professional quals, tell me about your awards and achievements. The more recent the better, but go tell me more about them. Tell me about your interests and extracurricular activities or volunteering work. Let the combination from the first and second half paint a picture of your strengths and leave me yearning for more. I want your CV to give enough detail and leave me yearning to want to meet you. #betterCVs

Yes 8: Tell me about your Nationality and Languages, only if you’re sure there’s value in there in the context of the role and company. Telling me you are a Nigerian, on a CV going to a Nigerian company, for exclusive work in Nigeria (especially when the nationality is not requested in the JD) — there’s just something strange about this tbh. Flaunt your languages and as usual, don’t lie. If all you can say in French is ‘Je suis’, then just remove it totally, no need claiming ‘Beginner’ or ‘Intermediate’. #betterCVs

Yes 9: Read the Job Description over and over and over and over again. Break each line from the JD into an excel sheet, synthesize what each line requires, think deeply of how it relates to your experience, and let those influence keywords you’ll put in your CV. Please do not lie, or exaggerate your achievements. #betterCVs

Yes 10: Reiterate — Keywords. Nowadays many people leverage tech in their R&S processes. Some companies may opt for keywords and use them to do initial filtering. Make use of relatable keywords from the JD and keep your fingers crossed. I said use keywords, not copy and paste the JD into your resume. They are 2 very different things. #betterCVs

Yes 11: When you upload your CV on a job site, do a confirmation or preview to ensure the PDF you uploaded is visible. Or that any file type you uploaded is visible. ‘Village people are real mehn’. People upload their CVs and unfortunately, they don’t render properly on the reviewers’ end.. that’s a straight (& unfortunate) NEXT. #betterCVs

Yes 12: Whenever they say optional, please just do it. e.g Cover letter is optional, go the extra mile and do it. The cover letter is an extra data point for you that maybe your advantage over other candidates. Please when you see Optional, just do it. #betterCVs

Yes 13: Use @Grammarly. It’s free. #betterCVs

Yes 14: Essay questions. Please don’t underestimate this area. It is also a data point, do it with all your ability, and be thorough. #betterCVs

OK, we’ve done the resume. We’ll take a look at Cover letters and a quick take on making better Linkedin profiles. If you have any CV horrors, especially in your early years, share a story with us. Let’s also learn from your experience. If you have other Yes’s or No’s , please share also, let’s learn and give others a better chance.

Jide Rotilu is the Co-founder and CEO of TBCA, where clients find and manage consultants for critical business projects. He is a cyber-security expert with an MSc. in Telecommunications.