Be Your Best Self

CV writing

Supercharge your CV!

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Take your CV from bland to grand

At Shortlist, we help candidates demonstrate their skills to show that they’re a great fit for a job. Most employers are looking for a mix of ability, which you can show on our assessments, and experience, which is where the CV comes in. Candidates often come to us asking for guidance to bring their CV from “good” to “great,” so we wrote this blog post to have all of our top tips in one place!

We’ve broken down the CV into its key parts, sharing both the basic must-haves and the extra bells and whistles!

  1. Contact Information

The basics: This should appear at the top your resume and include your name, address, phone number and e-mail address. Triple-check that your information is correct and up to date. If you are applying for a job outside the city you live in and are willing to relocate, indicate the same.

Extra insight: Avoid giving irrelevant information, like your date of birth and marital status, unless requested on the job profile.

  1. Personal Statement

The basics: This is your opportunity to showcase your experience, achievements, as well as your career aspirations to your potential employer. The statement should answer three important questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What can you do for the organization?
  • What are you seeking in your next job?

Resist the urge to use a generalized statement to suit any application, instead make this specific to the role you are applying for. While it may take time to customize this statement for each role, it makes all the difference.. Consider the major requirements for the role and use this to phrase your statement to show that you are perfectly suited for the position.

Extra insight: For a fresh graduate, since you may not have much experience to site, focus on your interests as well as the skills you have attained and how they are relevant to the job.

  1. Skills and Qualifications

The basics: Remember to give the recruiter exactly what they want and in the easiest way possible and not have them struggle to find relevant information.While writing this particular section, it is important to keep in mind the industry keywords that are relevant to different roles.

For example:

  • Data Scientist roles often require programming skills in languages like Python and R.
  • Business Development require critical skills like financial modeling, analytical thinking and communication skills among others.
  • Customer Service roles require skills in problem Solving, communication, attention to detail, and demonstrating empathy.

Extra insight: Go through the job description and pick out the must have skills and qualifications that you posses. Ensure that these are what the employer sees first while reviewing your resume. Some organizations use applicant tracking systems that will scan for keywords in your CV, so it’s even more important to include words and phrases from the job description.

  1. Experience

This being the meat of your resume, you want to ensure that, you clearly and honestly present your employment history.

The essentials in this section include: the Company name , your title, years you were employed and a short summary (preferably in bullet points) of your responsibilities and accomplishments.

More importantly, as much as possible do try to quantify your achievements in terms of numbers or other concrete performance measures.

How?

Example:

For Sales roles, you may choose to show your impact by using statements such as:

  • Increased customer engagement and online presence by……
  • Strengthened performance by…….

For Finance roles, showcase your knowledge of the industry and share achievements that demonstrate your ability to maximize utilization of financial resources.

For Managerial roles, Leadership skills are key.

  • Showcase how you you have lead teams towards the achievements of organizational objectives.
  • Showcase how you have also contributed towards the professional development of your employees. For example, training programmes that have been implemented, mentoring team members into junior/mid-senior level managers are some of the things you can highlight.

For Customer Service roles, showcase how you have contributed to ensuring great customer experience to your clients:

  • Mention instances where you developed a program and/or implemented a system which increased the efficiency of a product or service offered by the organization. Leading to Customer retention.

For more experienced professionals who have worked across different sectors, you do not need to include jobs that are not related to the one you are applying for.

Entry-level individuals who do not have on the job experience should include any temporary positions, internships or volunteer work that emphasize the skills related to the job.

  1. Hobbies and Interests

The basics: If you are new in the job market or do not have a lot of experience, this can be the place to differentiate yourself. You never know when your side hustle, hobby or passion will connect with a hiring manager. For example, listing team sports or activities would indicate that you would be a good team player. Social hobbies such as mentoring indicates that you can communicate and connect well with others. This can help find a fit where otherwise the role may have been a stretch.

Don’t forget…

Proofread your resume. Make sure there are no spelling mistakes or grammatically incorrect sentences.

Your resume should be well organised, with uniform font, punctuation, and spacing. Use soft and easily readable fonts like Calibri, Garamond Cambria, Times New Roman or Trebuchet MS. Avoid the use of bold and heavy fonts such as Impact. The same goes for unnecessary graphics, logos and pictures.

Have someone you trust read and give you their honest opinion as well as suggest changes to be made where necessary.

Check out these sample resumes that illustrate a majority of the points I covered above. I hope these guidelines will be helpful to as you chase your next big break!

I would love to hear from you! Share your tried-and-true resume-writing tips in the comments, and please let me know what other career-related topics you would like to learn about.

 

Career Passion: A True Calling in HR

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Learn how Odyssey Capital’s HR Manager left a career in fashion to find her true passion

Meet Vivienne Mukoko, Odyssey Capital Ltd.’s Human Resources Manager. Odyssey Capital is  a client-centric microfinance institution.  They extend credit to borrowers in order to buy consumer goods and appliances. Speaking with Vivienne it’s easy to hear the excitement in her voice.  She speaks passionately about her job and its importance to overall company growth. She explains just how strategic her role because  “HR is basically the person that makes sure we have the right people in the right departments. We ensure these people are equipped to add the right value to their department and overall to the organization. So without HR, the organization is not worthwhile.” In those words it is easy to uncover the passion she has in her work. However, Vivienne carved a non-traditional path to get to this point. This is how Vivienne left her career in fashion to find her true calling in Human Resources.

It’s easy to be taken aback when Vivienne explains how much she liked working in the fashion industry, and yet, it wasn’t a career she wanted to continue to pursue.  “I think it was coming to a realization. I loved fashion, I loved sketching and stitching. Loved it but wasn’t passionate about it. It wasn’t my calling, even though I enjoyed it.” The differentiation can be confusing at first, but it’s clear that she felt driven to HR. She saw the opportunity to provide the greatest benefit to company strategy: “I thought about it and decided I wanted to be in a position where I add that kind of value. Not just to one department, but to all departments.”

Discovering new career opportunities

A common theme in speaking with versatile professionals is their curiosity drives them to think more deeply about their career path. This is certainly the case for Vivienne, as she describes her professional journey that led her to where she is today: “My journey has been an interesting one. I studied fashion, I enjoyed it of course, but it wasn’t for me. I started at a textile company and I used to design for them. The job was great, but I wasn’t passionate about it. In the process of my management training, I went through an induction process with the HR department and realized, ‘Goodness! HR is not just about pushing papers!’ It piqued my interest and I started researching what it entailed and if it was something I wanted to engage in.”

Vivienne completed her Bachelor’s of Science in Apparel and Fashion Design, so it wasn’t just a matter of choosing to suddenly switch to Human Resources. She had to determine what she would need to do to pivot to a vastly different career. “When I had enough information, I decided I wanted to study HR. I moved to Nairobi and got my higher diploma in HR. Then I had the opportunity to work for Deloitte. I started my HR career there, first as an HR Assistant and then grew to HR Associate. My experience there was mainly recruitment. I loved recruitment, I had a lot of fun focusing on recruitment.”

Vivienne then used this opportunity to move across industries to land where she is now:  “I slowly transitioned to different industries, from finance to diplomatic corps to security and finally back to finance here at Odyssey Capital.” Vivienne attributes this range of experiences with helping to unlock a critical step in her professional development: identifying and utilizing mentors.

The importance of mentorship & professional networks

Vivienne credits her first mentor for giving her a glimpse into how vital his role was to the company: “The head of HR in that company was very informative. He would engage me in understanding the strategic aspects of HR, not just the daily filing. I asked a lot of questions about HR and he told me a lot.” This first experience with a mentor encouraged Vivienne to continue to seek out peer leaders who could direct her learning. She says that it’s crucial to seek out the right people to help guide your learning and that it’s particularly important to find advisors who have the drive to push you further: “The mentor I have now has been influential in the growth I have had in the past year.”

In addition to mentorship, Mukoko’s hunger to excel and improve in her position has led her to identify professional networks and forums: “I try to learn not only from my experience but from other HR professionals as well. That’s why I’m in HR forum groups, I try to interact with different HR professionals. You’ll find people have very different experiences, and sometimes you’ll think you won’t find yourself in a situation, but one day you do!” Vivienne also notes the importance of being present and finding yourself in different environments in order to succeed. “Being exposed to different situations and finding yourself trying to adapt to every single one is exciting. A lot of what I’ve learned and use currently is based on those experiences.”

Uncovering Talent

One of the most gratifying aspects of Vivienne’s job is the opportunity to recognize and cultivate talent to succeed beyond their current ability. She explains that as “being able to, more or less, develop talent. You have a talented individual, you identify specific gaps, and you think about how to make this person a more improved version of themself. What kind of value can I add to this person that can  grow them further than they already are? If you can tap into that level where you can quickly identify and advise accordingly to guide that person in that particular direction, it’s such a big difference in such a small way.”

Her passion in her work shows most clearly when she talks about unlocking professional potential:  “It’s very little input in terms of all facets of HR, if I can find a way to embody all these aspects and tap into the people I support, in this particular way, that’s what makes me wake up in the morning realizing I need to be better at structuring Learning & Development that is meaningful, identifying talent needs that bridge this gap. That’s where I get the passion to wake up every morning and go to work.” Vivienne’s drive to support the development of her colleagues is one of the many reasons why Odyssey is growing so quickly!

If you share the same passion for extending credit access to small and middle-income earners and think you might be a good fit, Odyssey is hiring! As a client of Shortlist, check our open jobs to see if Odyssey Capital is hiring!

 

4 Tips to Learn for Life

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How to Continue Learning to grow in your career journey

In order to become a sought-after professional in today’s job market, you need to be more adaptable and willing to learn than ever. Companies are increasingly looking for individuals with a broad set of skills who are comfortable moving across industries and functions in order to succeed.

But how can you go about gaining these diverse skill sets, and continue to develop yourself professionally, both on-the-job and in your personal time? We asked Wambui Kuria, Talent & Development Officer at our client Momentum Credit. They are a Micro-Finance company providing structured working capital solutions to individuals, and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).  Wambui has had quite a diverse career that has included financial auditing, entrepreneurship, recruiting and software. She describes her current role at Momentum Credit as “fifty percent HR and fifty percent business development.”

Here are four tips from Wambui on how you can continue to learn throughout your career and become a more versatile employee:

  1. Be comfortable outside your comfort zone to grow in your career

Wambui began her career as a financial auditor. However, she quickly realized this was not a career she wanted to continue. She preferred interacting more regularly with people in her professional life. The main challenge was being in a job market where you typically get a job based on what you studied for. In order to make a career shift, she first started scouting for jobs in sales. Eventually she landed a role as a salesperson at a training company. “This anchored my passion for training, particularly when I would see the feedback from our clients saying how much the training changed their mindset.”

Her curiosity once again led her to move into a new role, this time in recruiting. There she found herself in meetings with software developers. She credits this experience with learning how to communicate with the tech team. She had to learn to work effectively with the department to meet her timelines. Wambui used these experiences to push herself out of her comfort zone in order to chart a path of personal growth. “I find myself daring myself in different ways. I praise myself when I learn something new.”

  1. Love and embrace technology

You don’t need to be an engineer or IT professional to use technology to your advantage. Combining a desire to learn new things with technology can have added benefits. “I like to learn new things and I love technology. I’ve really enjoyed learning new software, designing things on Canva, and learning as much as I can on Google.” Being comfortable in Google Drive has paid dividends for Wambui, particularly when working with outside clients. “If you’re working across companies, everything others send is online, on Drive. It really makes it easier to work with my suppliers. I might have big files and need a lot of people to view them, so online tools are crucial.”

Being current with technology can be vital for just about any role within a company. “We’re all needing these skills. When I started working I realized everyone needs to understand IT. Everyone needs to know how to use a smartphones. You might be a great lawyer, but if you don’t know how to sign contracts online, that’s dangerous to your business.”

Knowledge sharing

One of the keys to learning is making sure to share your knowledge with others

  1. Share what you’re learning at work!

Your learning can be significantly enhanced by collaborating with your peers in the office. If done effectively it can even positively affect the culture in your workplace. Encourage others to share their knowledge! It can make for a more interactive environment where everyone is utilizing their colleagues to actively share their learning across departments and functions. Treat this like a form of on-the-job training that everyone can participate in.

Consider starting a book club or a small library in your office to create a culture of reading for professional development. Wambui has implemented a system to reward high-performing employees by giving them books to read. “We reward people monthly depending on performance, and one of the ways we’re trying to do that is by reducing on other incentives and start giving them books to read.” Putting growth and development first can pay huge dividends for everyone to meet their professional potential.

  1. Build your online learning presence

Using your online presence to show your propensity for learning improves your professional brand, according to Wambui. “My LinkedIn has articles I read and it really shows that I am more than my educational background. I would say that’s a major thing that’s worked for me.” This shows employers you are passionate about your interest areas and serious about continuing to develop yourself as a professional.

If you’re like Wambui and YouTube is your “school of life”, consider posting videos to your social media channels to spark a discussion amongst your friends. A good habit to get into is to comment on articles and other resources that thought leaders in your field post to their pages. This can increase your visibility to ensure that high-level professionals know you are actively engaging in your professional development.

Learning is a lifelong process that requires commitment, energy and curiosity. It takes a willingness to take ownership and  expose yourself to new situations and environments. The above tips are just a few of many ways you can apply yourself to professionally grow and show your professional value is more than what’s on your CV. Feel free to share with us other ways in which you drive your own learning!

Thanks so much to Wambui for sharing her wisdom with us! We’re proud to partner with Momentum Credit and help them build happy, high-performing teams. And if you’re interested in working for Momentum Credit, check out our open jobs to see if they’re hiring!