Tailor a CV that stands out - advice from DevelopmentAid recruiters

Tailor a CV that stands out - advice from DevelopmentAid recruiters

Winning that sought-after contract can be challenging, especially when there are hundreds of rival applicants for the position. But with the right guidance, tailoring a CV into its finest shape will increase the chances of getting the contract aimed for. This article provides advice from the DevelopmentAid recruiters about how to best tailor a CV to apply for a project in the development sector and be the winning candidate.

Essential factors to consider when tailoring a successful CV:

  • Use the correct template when a specific template is requested
  • Possess the appropriate experience and qualifications relevant to the job requirements
  • Tailor the CV to the specific job with keywords and important skills being highlighted
  • Structure the CV effectively, with the most important information on the first page
  • List professional experience in reverse chronological order
  • Exclude irrelevant information such as hobbies, marital status, number of children, personal information, description of professional goals, essays on why the applicant has chosen a certain job or a career, photos, pictures, charts, personal opinions.

While most general CV writing rules apply, a number of characteristics differentiate a CV for the development sector from a regular CV.

One of the most striking differences is that the one to two-page length rule does not apply to the international development sector. Most consultants have had numerous short-term assignments and, depending on the number of years of overall experience, the length of a CV in the development sector can vary between three and six pages or sometimes more. Furthermore, the CV should emphasize hard, technical or industry specific skills rather, than soft skills. In terms of vocabulary, a CV in the development sector will make use of terminology and acronyms specific to the sector such as project cycle management (PCM) or logic framework approach (LFA). Cover letters are not usually requested as they do not carry the same importance that CVs do.

A professional in the development sector should have several CVs adapted for different purposes.

First and foremost, a general CV containing details of experience accumulated over the years is a must. This CV is usually rather long and detailed consisting of six or more pages. On top of that, there should be a short-version CV, usually called a resume, that does not exceed three pages and which contains a brief description of professional experience. This CV is used when a prospective employer states in the job description that a CV should be no longer than three pages. It is also recommended that professionals design a third version of the CV that is tailored to a specific sector or job position which entails removing details of any experience that is not relevant for that particular sector/position. In this way, an expert creates a concise and focused resume and recruiters find it easier to navigate through the applicant’ experience.

The first page of the CV is the most crucial and where most attention should be paid.

The first page usually comprises the executive summary or key qualifications section that provides a general but compact and eloquent picture of the applicant. Of course, the section describing professional experience is also important but articulating well-put key qualifications effectively can make an applicant stand out from the crowd. It is important that these key qualifications are confirmed in the description of responsibilities, tasks and achievements in the employment record section otherwise they have no value and will not be taken into account.

Common mistakes that applicants make when tailoring their CVs.

The most common mistake is when an applicant fails to tailor their CV to match the job he/she applied for. Applicants also often overlook the need to proofread the CV and check for grammatical errors while also using acronyms for which the full forms are not provided. Another common weak point is the use of passive voice – recruiters encourage applicants to use active voice. While submitting a CV in the wrong format may lead to the application being disregarded from the outset.

Some tips to help adapt a CV when transitioning to another sector.

The most important task is to highlight the skills and experience that match the requirements outlined in the job description. It would be advisable to include any internships or volunteer work that are related to the new sector, especially if these were for non-profit organizations. Candidates should show any involvement in development projects, even in a minor role. Avoid using jargon that is specific to the previous sector and use vocabulary relevant to the development sector where possible. Mention any certificates, training, courses that match the sector you hope to work in.

Download here even more tips that have been presented during our recent webinar “How to get shortlisted for a project. CV Tailoring tips”

Get your CV tailored by a professional recruiter by opting for the CV Tailoring service. As well you can select the combo package to obtain full access to all jobs and project opportunities & get your CV tailored for any of them.