Questions on my Career Journey (3) - The CV
Updated: Jun 16, 2020
I have had a CV since I was 15 probably. Of course I didn’t have much to put on it then but I had my first job at age 16, at a commercial bank so I had to have a decent-looking CV pretty early. Anyway, I was at the time always tempted to put every little detail on there to make it longer, because I thought whoever saw it would be impressed by the quantity of things. It took a long time to learn how to optimize information on that key document.
So your CV has to be focused on the recipient. Not everyone cares about everything you have done, as wonderful as it may be. They care about what’s relevant for them. So when applying for a job, especially one like the WBG YPP, where there are literally thousands of applicants, you want to make sure every piece of document that you submit makes you stand out and communicates what you are bringing to the table vs what is being sought for. Make it brief, and straight to the point. It helps to update regularly whenever you have started work on a new project or changed jobs or published a paper, rather than only updating it when actively seeking employment.
Thus, I shortened that document to only the relevant experiences and certifications that I had, and the extras that I had were to display some quality, such as a recognition award for outstanding performance. You could also include things that display leadership and team skills like, member of a Society or founder of something related to your field. So I started having two main CVs, one for my creatives: fashion, music, radio and another for the economist side of me. That way then you also have different referees on your CV who can attest to those skills. I also only put the thesis titles of my highest degree but included all else in the publications list if published. Further, I realized that conferences are important, but listing every paper you presented at every conference can be too much, so after that list had built up, I included only conference names and year.
Wait, my CV is on this website so you can see what it looks like now. I haven't changed it too much and I have to update the research list.
So don't think, 'I have a Masters degree, but so do many other people'. Yes, probably a lot of people have your degree, and a lot of people also have Ph.D.s. Rather than thinking that, perhaps think about what is different about your Masters degree? For me, my MA had a policy focus and was designed for those working in policy advisory Institutions, mainly government and I tried to focus on that when it was my highest degree. My bachelors degree did not have particularly good grades, but my undergraduate experience involved a lot of economic surveys and starting an Indigenous Economics club. I focused on that and my commercial banking experience prior to University, when it was my highest degree. You are the one that has to make it count.
Bottom line: You are a 'supplier' among many and your potential employer is the one who has demand. You want them to come to you the way a business wants customers to go to them. To do that, you need to provide what the 'customer' needs, in a way that the customer will quickly realize you have what they need and in a way that shows its of quality and that communicated to show that you believe in your product. In a way, you also have to market that appropriately. That product you are supplying is you: your intellect, your personality, your hard-working spirit, your experience, your skills, your attributes. All that investment in yourself.
So you see, you have much to give. Focus on that, and all the best.