A Tale of Two CVs

Once upon a time, there were two friends, Shane and Shireen. Although they were best friends, Shireen was always getting angry at Shane because he was so lazy. He would never do his reading for class, finished his assignments at the last minute, and skipped classes when he was feeling sleepy. Nonetheless, because he was really bright, Shane and Shireen managed to get the same results in the same courses. Shireen was a good influence on Shane, so when she signed up for writing for the campus newspaper, she made sure he signed up and wrote articles too. She also convinced him to join the Model United Nations with her, which they both enjoyed.

Shane’s CV

When it came time to apply to jobs, Shane sat down and typed up the same CV that his high school Life Orientation teacher had taught him to type. It had two columns, one down the left for the headings and one down the middle for his information. It had a cover page that had his name in big, bold, fancy font letters, and “Curriculum Vitae” with a clipart picture of a graduation hat on it.

For his CV, he used many different fonts, included a picture of himself, and spaced things out over 5 pages so that it seemed like he had done a lot. For each thing he listed, he added a lot of waffle. For instance, when it came to describing his work with the campus newspaper, he wrote: “Reporting for the campus newspaper by pitching article ideas to the editor, researching on the internet, setting up meetings, talking to sources, writing articles on the computer, editing using spellcheck, and submitting it using the Outlook email client.”

He had a long section on his interests and hobbies, and included things like “watching series” and “basketball”, even though he only went to that one practice session that one time. In his cover letter, he used lots of vague, fluffy language that he thought would impress an employer without giving any examples to back it up. For example, he wrote “Works well alone and in a team” and “Committed to service excellence!” but didn’t say why he was these things.

He had many spelling errors too, because he never had anyone read his CV before sending it. He then sent out the same CV in answer to 15 different job ads, thinking that it’s a numbers game, and at least half would call him in for an interview.

Shireen’s CV

Shireen, the more hardworking and diligent friend, did some research before putting her CV together. She found out that it shouldn’t be longer than 2 pages, and that its presentation needed to create a good impression on an employer. She downloaded a template that she found on the internet, because she didn’t like any of the CV templates she found provided on MS Word. It was clean and simple, but stylish in design. She then filled in all her particulars, being careful to be informative but concise, highlighting her achievements and her abilities. She explained simply and succinctly the skills that writing for the campus newspaper and participating in the Model UN had given her, and how it would be relevant and applicable in the working world. She had a friend who was great at editing read her CV, and then sent it to her mentor, the head of her department at her university, who made some suggestions on how she could improve it.

Shireen only applied to the 6 jobs that she really wanted and that she thought she could get. For each CV that she sent out, she wrote a separate cover letter, addressing the needs of each company, and explaining how she had the skills and abilities they’re looking for, remembering to demonstrate through examples. She also adjusted her CV according to what each job description was describing, prioritising certain aspects of her experience and education to convince the employer that she was exactly what they were looking for. She only included relevant information in both her CV, while expressing her enthusiasm and suitability for the job in her cover letter.

The Outcome

A few weeks after they had both sent out their CVs, Shireen had secured 3 interviews out of the jobs she had applied to. Shane, predictably, had none, and couldn’t understand why. He had sent out 15 CVs! Why hadn’t anyone called him back? He was so frustrated, and couldn’t understand why, if him and Shireen both had the same results and the same experience, why she could secure job interviews and not him. It was so unfair!

After he complained to Shireen about it, she offered to help him work on his CV to make it better, and advised him to tailor his CV and cover letter to each job he was applying to. Shane didn’t like this, because it meant more work and he was lazy, but soon, he too was being called for interviews. Both friends secured great internships at companies they liked, and they both lived happily ever after.

The End.

(…for now.)

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Melissa Nefdt
Mel is a resident freelance writer and moderator at Yebo Students. She has a passion for helping young people realise their potential, and has several years experience running youth development programmes. She likes to write about, well, everything, and wants to travel, well, everywhere. She gets her kicks from meeting new people and having interesting conversations.

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