Or how to sell yourself on paper

09 || November || 2022

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#Issue 011

How to write a stellar CV

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Hi 👋🏾

CVs are a little scary, aren’t they? I don’t like to talk too much about my accomplishments, but I’m forced to detail some of them during my quarterly CV cleanup exercise. Think of it as a spring cleaning exercise except it happens in Google Docs, not your home. 

One way to approach writing a great resume is to tell a concise story—using bullet points—about your professional history. 

Before you begin, list out your accomplishments on paper or in digital format: did you help grow a product? Did you bring in new clients every quarter? What were you responsible for in the business? Include numbers and metric-driven results to strengthen your profile. Then, cut down on extra words and retain 5 bullet points per professional experience.

New to the corporate world? You can include volunteer work and personal projects in your CV. This of course requires you to adopt new hobbies and step out of your comfort zone.

Bonne chance!

by Koromone Koroye & Timi Odueso.

Tech trivia questions

Some trivia before we begin. Answers are at the bottom of this newsletter. 

  1. How long does the average recruiter spend on a CV/resume?
  2. What’s the average length of a CV?

Why are CVs important?

A CV—short for Curriculum Vitae—is a document that briefly summarises your work experience for prospective employers.

They’re basically sales pitches that tell employers why they should buy hire you. 

In many cases, CVs are the first impressions of the corporate world; they’re the first thing your bosses and managers will learn about you. 

So to make a great first impression, you have to ensure your CV stands out. 

How do you curate resumes/CVs that shine? Here are a few tips.

Five tips on creating stellar CVs

1.📈 Show results

A great CV is the enemy of a math teacher- you have to show your results without focusing on the workings. In the tech world, what matters is what you’re able to build and how fast you’re able to build it. If you’re applying for a role as a product manager, your CV must show how many [successful] products you have built.

Instead of just stating what you did in old jobs, show what your efforts produced. Here’s an example:

❌ Responsible for building a newsletter product. 

✅ Contributed to the 4x growth of a digital product within my first 18 months in the role.

Measurable metrics—results—are what matter, and they’ll make your CV stand out.

2. 🎯 Add only essential information

You may have heard this before but your CV is not your autobiography. It’s your corporate FAQ. 

Only essential information regarding your corporate or work history should be added. Take out information like your date of birth, your primary and secondary schools, marital status, and your physical addresses.

Your CV is selling you and your skills to potential employers. It’s the real-life elevator pitch!

3. 📑 One size doesn’t fit all

CVs are not like wristwatches, one size type does not fit all. You have to create CVs for every job you’re applying to.

The CV you send to TechCabal is not the one you’ll send to Zikoko. Each job has key requirements, and if your CV doesn’t measure up to them, it’ll be tossed aside.

For every job you apply to, modify your CV to showcase the skills and requirements they’re looking for, if you have them. 

For example, a data analyst job might call for expertise in the Python language. A CV that states “proficient in all data languages” will not scale through, but one that specifically mentions proficiency in Python will.

To be clear, we’re not asking you to lie about your skills. We’re asking you to make sure you specify the skills you have that match the job’s requirements.

4. 📶 Size matters

In today’s trivia, you’ll learn how long the average recruiters spend on one CV. A hint: it’s not that long.

Like Joseph Gichuhi said in this edition of #EnteringTech🚀, recruiters get hundreds and sometimes thousands of applications, depending on the role. The longer your CV is, the less time recruiters will have to focus on key aspects of your application.

The optimal length of a CV should be two to three pages.

5. Choose the right format

Finally, the format of your CV will also play a role in which jobs you get interviewed for. You need to make sure your CV is styled to the global standard.

This means no spelling errors, no wrong punctuation marks, and no—we can’t stress this enough—Comic Sans font! Choose a legible or standard font like Arial, Times New Roman, Garamond, or Open Sans. No cursive or showy fonts are needed—unless of course, you’re applying to be a clown. 

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Here’s where to find tech jobs

Now that you’ve dusted off that CV, it’s time to put it to good use. Find tech jobs on these Job Boards

Ask a techie

Q. If I don’t have any experience working, what do I put on my CV?

Great question. No working experience ≠ no experience at all.

In edition #002 of #EnteringTech🚀, where we wrote about landing your first tech jobs, we outlined some ways you can show experience for a job.

You can take online courses which often have exercises that give you practical knowledge for jobs. You should also practice what you learn and build a portfolio. 

For example, as a budding designer looking to land your first tech job, you should design as often as you can and create mock-ups of different products and services. A data analyst should show the different dashboards and data visualisations they’ve practised and created.

What matters in tech are results and capability. As an entry-level techie, your CV should showcase your portfolio and your learnt courses. That way, employers will be able to gauge your skill level. 

That’s all we can take this week. Have any questions about working in tech? Ask away and we’ll find answers for you.👇🏾

Ask a question

Tech trivia answers

  1. According to Indeed.com, it’s about six to seven seconds, although many recruiters say they’ll spend as much as 20 seconds browsing through a CV. 
  2. Ideally, a resume should only be one page long but on average, most CVs are 2–3 pages long. 


  • Data Lead Africa is offering a one-month data analytics course for Nigerian youth corpers. For ₦50,000 ($115), attendees will learn Excel, PowerBI and KoboToolBox over five weekends. Apply here.

  • Join Data Community Africa, a network of data analysts and scientists in Africa. This is the place to be if you need a supportive community of data veterans while you learn data analysis.

  • The Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme and the Institut Français de Recherche en Afrique of Nairobi are offering a three-month-long fellowship in France for postdoc researchers from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, and Eastern Congo (Kivu) who have presented their thesis from 2017. Laureates will receive a monthly stipend of €1,600 at the start of each month. Apply by December 9.


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