CV GUIDE: Step By Step Complete Guide on How to Write an Effective CV

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Step-by-step complete guide on how to write an effective CV

It is good to start by saying that there is no clear-cut, straight-jacketed, must-use pattern for writing a CV or a resume. However, there are important details every CV or resume MUST HAVE.

Most people think that a CV is the same as a resume, but they are different. Although they can be used interchangeably depending on the geography, company, or organisational requirements,

Similarities Between a CV and a Resume

A CV or a resume is an essential tool to securing employment, scholarships, grants, and more, both of which show your qualifications, competencies, and work experience or other relevant experiences as may be required by a prospective employer.

Differences between a CV and a resume

  • A resume is a one-page document that highlights your relevant skills and experience; a CV can be as long or as short as necessary.
  • A resume is often targeted at a specific job, while a CV can be used for multiple reasons.
  • In summary, a resume gives a brief summary of you and highlights the relevant skills and experiences you have that align with the position you’re seeking, whereas a CV gives a more thorough description of you, your experience, and other relevant information.

NOTE: Most recruiters do not have the luxury of time to read your life’s stories because they have several applications on their desk to attend to. Don’t make your CV or resume bulky or too difficult to read. Always make sure it highlights all your relevant accomplishments.

For the purpose of this article, we shall discuss how to develop a perfect and effective curriculum vitae (CV), breaking down the training into sections and steps for easy understanding and assimilation.

A curriculum vitae is a brief description of your educational and professional background. It provides details of your work experience, personal characteristics, interests, and goals. The CV is used when seeking employment, scholarship, internship, or fellowship grants, appointments, or other opportunities.

What to Include in a CV

  • Contact Information
  • Profile Summary
  • Skills and Competencies
  • Key Achievement
  • Educational Background (Highest Education, Institution, and Date)
  • Work Experience (which can include NYSC, internships, and volunteering)
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Professional Activities (conference attendance, fellowship experience, conference presentation, workshop attendance, and presentation)
  • Training and Certification
  • Honors and Awards (Academic Award, Work Award, Special Awards, and Recognitions)
  • Publications and research


  • To secure a job
  • To apply for scholarships, grants, internships, appointments, and awards
  • You must take your CV arrangement seriously because it is the first contact you have with a prospective employer, and it is your chance to make a good first impression.

format of a CV

Like we mentioned from the beginning, there is no specific format for a CV; many formats are acceptable inasmuch as they encapsulate the relevant information needed and are beautifully arranged; you may include some colours (one or two).

Example of a Good CV

Contact Information

Your contact information should include your name, home address, email address, and telephone number. Unless requested by the organisation you’re sending your CV to, please remove non-relevant personal details such as sex, date of birth, religion, marital status, and nationality. All this information is irrelevant and will only consume space meant for other useful information.

An example of your contact information

Samson Abbah lives at 164 Herbert Macaulay Way, Adekunle, Lagos State. [email protected], +2348160246557

NOTE: You don’t need your street address if you are applying for a remote position. You can use:

Samson Abbah, Lagos, Nigeria

Or you could decide not to use it at all because a fully remote position does not need your address.


When writing your professional summary, you should include a brief overview of your professional orientation, your focus, and your hopes for the future. It must be built around the job description that you are applying for.

For instance, if you are applying for a marketing role, your profile summary should reflect your passion for marketing.

Example of a Profile Summary

Research-oriented capacity builder with six years’ experience in the non-profit sector and robust interest in volunteerism, leadership, social enterprise, and civic engagement. experienced in the analysis and interpretation of results, the preparation of reports, and the planning and execution of new projects. Through persistency and consistency, committed to creating jobs, eradicating poverty, and promoting education, gender equality, and peaceful coexistence.

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Skills and Competencies

Your skills and competencies should be in bullet points and include relevant skills such as: • Problem solver; • Microsoft Office • Interpersonal skills • Organization skills • an Excel sheet. • Report writing • Graphics design • Team player
• Critical thinker • Power Point • Perseverance


Your key achievement should reflect the accomplishment you are most proud of, whether it is something big or something smaller. It may be a personal achievement or what you accomplished as a student, a volunteer, or as part of your professional life.

Example of a Key Achievement

Led a team of five youths that successfully trained 1,000 youths on digital marketing in Kano, Nigeria.

improved sales by 55% within the first four months of my employment at Green Nigeria Limited (this is a sample company).


It is important to note that your primary and secondary school certificates are irrelevant on your CV unless they are the highest qualifications you have. Your educational qualifications should be highlighted as such; this should include the institution you attended and the date you attained the certificate.

Example of Educational Qualification

  • SC Chemistry (in view) National Defense Academy 2020
  • Sc Chemistry, University of Ilorin, 2011-2015

Don’t skip this: Most recruiters argue which should come first: your education or your professional work experience. The magic is simple. Professionally, your education should come first. But if your educational qualification doesn’t meet the requirements of the job but your work experience surpasses the requirements, include the work experience first.

Professional Work Experience

Your professional work experience can be your volunteer experience, internship experience, IT experience, and National Youth Service Corps work experience, among others.

Many organisations are looking for applicants with experience, and it does not matter if you have worked with Google, the United Nations, or the World Bank. What matters is what you have done or achieved during these experiences. List your key roles and achievements on your resume; don’t just list the name of the organization or company and position held, but also include details of your role.

Example of professional (work) experience

Please ensure your experiences are tailored to the role you’re applying for.


Extra-curricular activities can be an excellent means of demonstrating your interest in and experience with a certain career path or area of study. Extra-curriculars may include volunteering work with both local and international organizations, as well as personal volunteer work.


You may list your professional activities by indicating the workshops, training sessions, conferences, and conventions you attended in the past that may be relevant to the job or opportunity you are applying for.

Example of Professional Activities

  • Fellow at Leap Africa Social Innovators Programme and Award
  • Alumni at the Global Startup Ecosystem
  • Alumni at YALI RLC West Africa
  • Alumni at the Facebook-sponsored Fate Foundation Aspiring entrepreneur
  • Alumni: Because International, the United States’ “Pursuit Incubator” 2020 spring cohort
  • Alumni: Startup Sandbox Incubator Program Cohort 1
  • Alumni: Islamic Cooperation Youth Forum (ICYF) Volunteer Training
  • Alumni: Enterprise Development Center Agroheck Challenge
  • Alumni: Green Crescent Turkey and ICYF Volunteers Against Addiction
  • Alumni: This week, design against COVID-19.

Training and Certification

The training and certificate are the professional trainings and courses you have attended; they include, but are not limited to, online training, short courses, and others.

Awards and Honors

Here you’re expected to list the awards and recognition you have received; no award or recognition is too small.

Publication and research

Here you’re expected to list your publications and researches.

There is so much to talk about in a single post about a CV or resume.

Do well to leave us a comment, ask a question, or share your CV experience. We are here to hold you by the hand till you get your dream opportunity.


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