It is never too early to do a curriculum vitae as a friend told me recently, even at age 13 (which is how old you have to be to have a Twitter and a Facebook account :-D. I did my first one using my experiences in Presec while I was applying to MIT for undergraduate study, in a unsuspecting way. We discussed CVs in the 10 Jobcamps that we GhanaThink Foundation organized in May 2018, one in each regional capital. May 1st is May Day and we have since crowned May as the workers’ month. These networking forums were funded by STAR-Ghana. We had several great discussions about unemployment, underemployment, gainful employment and entrepreneurship in Accra, Koforidua, HoCity, Kumasi, Sunyani, Wa, Tamale, Bolgatanga, Cape Coast and Takoradi. These CV discussions have also occurred in Whatsapp groups, which have become extremely popular in Ghana and in Africa. I share some of my major thoughts below.
Resumes are apparently one pagers, CVs are supposed to be longer with more info. I think resumes are more American and CVs are more British. We don’t need to debate and discuss them at length. It is more important to have different versions as well, as per requirements for employment related opportunities. I’ve had to prepare a 3 page CV because of an opportunity that demanded it. So now I have a one page resume and a 3 page CV.
Lots of job seekers in Ghana complain about how employers ask for multiple years of experience and how they do not tend to have those as new tertiary graduates. Experience can be built while in school and in various opportunities taken after school. Since employers are looking for employees to provide value to them, they need to be convinced from one’s CV that they have experiences or stories to ensure they can be great value additions to a company or institution. One can either pay these dues while in school through internships or ‘smaller’ jobs, internships, service, etc while working out of school. You need to put your experience on your CV.
Volunteering is another important word. I always ask tertiary students I meet what they did with their long vacations. It is a great way to ascertain the value of a student or potential employee or entrepreneur in general. Some are able to get internship and work opportunities due to their skills, reputation, network and nepotism. Getting favours through nepotism would catch up to you. Volunteering is a great way to build experience and all youth must take this seriously, because skills, reputation and network also follow from it. There are various opportunities to #volunteeringh, including this one via GhanaThink’s Ghana Volunteer Program.
There is a great World Economic Forum post that has great advice for resumes. I picked a couple of points out.
Focus on accomplishments, not job descriptions. Many times the experience section is filled with job descriptions, which can be exhaustive and lengthy. Focus on what you accomplished in your role, not everything that the role entails. Here’s the test: If a bullet point can be put on someone else’s resume, it is a job description (something that anyone in your position can do) and not an accomplishment specific to you.
Showing your achievements and results in your resume or CV show your ability to report, be precise and understand what needs to be within jobs and roles in order to drive the success of an institution. For instance, here are some bullet points of what I have on my resume as per my work at Google as a program manager: Drove adoption of Developer APIs via events, training and online resources | Supported to grow the activity level of 50 developer communities in Sub-Saharan Africa | Coordinated 20+ tech events each in Africa around Google I/O and Google’s Apps Developer Challenge. This clearly shows my abilities.
Show me the numbers. Numbers help the reader of your resume to better understand your impact. It is an illustrative and efficient way to convey your accomplishments. Instead of saying, for example, that you “consistently exceeded annual sales goals through strong client management and excellent opportunity identification,” you could say, “Completed 2016 at 113% of annual goal.” Numbers can help your accomplishment speak for itself and are more effective than using tons of words to describe what you did.
The great part about showing the numbers in your resume means that you can actually measure what you do and work on. You also state clearly what happened, quantitatively. It also shows you understand results and goals. Here is an example from my CV on Barcamp Ghana: Co-founded and organized first Barcamp — open, informal unconference — in Ghana with 150 participants (Ghana and Diaspora based) | Overseen the organization of 89 Barcamps across Ghana, touching all 10 regions and 12 towns | Overseen the organization of 2 Barcamps targeting Ghanaians and people interested in Africa in Washington DC | Over 14000 people impacted by Barcamps, with resulting jobs, partnerships, formed communities.
Softwares sorting out CVs is people not wanting to do it. If folks can pay for software to do it, that’s great. It’s not fun looking at CVs that aren’t great. This is the more reason why your CV or resume should catch the attention of recruiters and reviewers. Imagine a company like GN Bank hiring tellers and getting 1000 CVs and what they would do. Your CV is to get you an interview. At the interview point, you need to be able to speak to what is on CV. Copying won’t be very useful for you there.
I’ve tried to hire before in various instances. I did so once via VimJobs which a great website for job seekers and those trying to also hire. There are some CVs I automatically discard. I have realised that several youth copy wrong CV formats from their friends who do not know any better. That is really sad where people get bad advice in general. Looking for a great format to do your CV? Check out this link from Ashesi University (they have their charter now yay!) I have found Ashesi students and graduates to stand amongst students in Africa, Patrick Awuah and co are doing something right.
If someone is not doing the right thing, they must be told and guided. Or else their dream wont end up well. It’s up to the person (responsibility) who is dreaming to get better information and work smarter, copy best practices, etc. This is important information on mightyafrican.blogspot.com. It’s really sad how people are making the same mistakes others did 5 years ago. Good information must spread. #GIMS. #mightyafrican
You can learn a lot more from the Jobcamp hashtag. You can also go through the #Jobcamp Accra, #Jobcamp Koforidua, #Jobcamp #Hocity, #Jobcamp #Kumasi, #Jobcamp #Sunyani, #Jobcamp #WaWeDey, #Jobcamp #Tamale, #Jobcamp #Bolgatanga, #Jobcamp #CapeCoast, #Jobcamp #Takoradi hashtags.