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Top professors score ‘E’ in CV writing

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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he now famours  91-page CV of Prof. George Magoha, the nominee for CS Education, has elicited mixed reactions in social media and become the talk in social settings. It rekindled the memories few years of ago for Prof Makau Mutua’s CV presented with his application for the Chief Justice job, which topped 80 pages then but how now grown to 94 pages.

This has refocused attention the real purpose a CV, its contents and expected length. Just like these professors, many Kenyans would fail the CV writing test as there’s this mistaken notion that a longer CV increases the chances of being shortlisted. Far from  it. The more concise the CV, the better for the candidate.

The CV is, in fact, a marketing tool that a candidate uses to showcase his or her suitability for a particular vacant position in an organisation. Besides personal data, the CV should provides information on the candidate’s education and training; working history; key competencies and notable achievements.

A potential candidate for an advertised job adjusts his/her current CV to align it with the job requirements. A CV from for a lecturing position in a university will be different from, let’s say, one prepared to secure a part-time consultancy assignment.

In any case, a standard CV should be between two (2) and eight (8) pages that crystallise the profile of the candidate focusing on their strengths for the advertised job.

More often than not, CVs that are more than eight (8) pages turn out to be outlines of the candidate’s unpublished autobiography. They itemise events and activities that do not bring out the specific competences that the candidate possesses. For example, a long list of countries that a candidate visited cannot be linked to their leadership abilities.

CVs are off tangent when written to parade an individual’s daily journal at their place of work. They become cumbersome to read when the candidate provides a long list of individual policies in the development of organisational standard operating procedures.

The key aim of a CV is to inform the employer about the candidate’s potential.

Over-glorified CVs seem to parade information that is lifted from job descriptions of the previous positions that candidates have held. This information could be summarised into the overall purpose of the candidate’s position in the organisation.

Read: Check out the long CVs here

Long lists of seminars, workshops, conferences and meetings attended including their dates and locations amount to information overkill that misses the point. A CV catches the recruiter’s eye when it shows a summary of skills gained in the events you participated.

Other contributions of the candidate beyond the professional line should take the least space on the CV. The contributions are mere supportive premises whose weight is not as high as the competencies required for a job.

CVs on multiple pages are susceptible to repetition of information contained elsewhere in the same document. The density of the content covered in a CV may tempt the recruiters to pick out a shorter CV version with relevant information the job requirements.

See Also: 15 most common job interview questions and their answers

The number of referees in a standard CV should be a maximum of three whom the prospective employer can contact to authenticate a candidate’s declarations. When a candidate provides more that three referees, it amounts to a doubtful fishing expedition for references.

Reading very long CVs can be tiresome for HR people who are responsible for short-listing candidates for the next stage of the recruitment process. The candidate’s immense data may create a wrong impression that may be extended to the interview day.

Read: Meet Kenya’s finest lawyers – and the flamboyant lot isn’t among them

Officers looking for information to pre-qualify someone for honours or awards will be keen on the details contained in gigantic CVs. The detailed information may be used as criteria to qualify a candidate for coveted awards. Such a CV could best published in the “Who is Who” Year Book or Annual Company Report as a library reference book.

The key aim of a winning CV is to inform the employer about the candidate’s ability to become a potential employee. Statements expressed on the CV should be those that can be easily substantiated at the expected interview.

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SAMSON OSEROhttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
Samson Osero is Human Resource Development Consultant and Author of 'Transition into Retirement'. My personal email is: [email protected]
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