The way you’re writing your CV is wrong. Here’s how you should do it

TL;DR: It’s that time of the year again when we hire talented attachés (in our Accounting and Software Engineering departments) that are easy to work with and excited about building the future of financial services. When we look at applicant CVs (Curriculum Vitaes), we mostly care about seeing the amazing things they’ve built/achieved over the years. And we want these accomplishments to be framed as: “I achieved X, relative to Y, by doing Z”.

Working at Golix is both challenging and incredibly exciting:

Our Mission at Golix is to give every person in Africa financial autonomy: so when you join us, you’ll be solving difficult problems (most of which, have never been solved before) in the fields of Software Engineering, Security, Customer Support and Financial Services; Often under constraints and with expectations to do a lot with very little to start with.

And at the same time, we’re investing heavily in making Golix an amazing place to do your attachment at so you’ll get to keep your laptop when you leave after one year, you get to work under flexible working hours, we’ll pay you a salary (even though you’re on attachment), and we’ll provide perks such as lunch and transport allowances (in cash).

We have designed an attachment program that is eye-opening and guarantees that whatever work you do at Golix will have a huge impact in Africa. Add to this that you’ll get to work with of the smartest and most talented people you have never met. Everyday.

But before we can hire you, here are some things you need to know before you write your CV:

Some things we like to see in CVs:

  1. We like students who can say things with flowers:

The expression ‘say it with flowers’ comes from my grandfather. Many years ago he told me that one day I was going to fall in love with a beautiful girl and that I will have to propose my love to her but he advised me that, instead of telling her that I love her, I should say it while giving her flowers. For years I dismissed his advice as old-fashioned and I only learned, almost, late in life, that what he was he was teaching me was that talk is cheap and that you should back up your words with showmanship. The best way to demonstrate showmanship in your CV is to talk about your results before you talk about your skills

  • Don’t tell us that you’re ‘self-motivated’. Tell us that you’ve taught yourself RoR so that you could build a website for your church and how you put it online with no money (if you’re applying for a Software Engineering Attaché position). Or tell us about how you’re the first one at church and are the last one to leave because you have to help count the money since you’re a volunteering Treasurer.
  • Don’t tell us that you have ‘Leadership Skills’. Tells us about how you got to be appointed as Class Monitor in form 2; Or how you organized an SEC-led Student Demo.

2. We like CVs that demonstrate impact

Saying it with flowers will set you apart from most applicants, but going one step further to demonstrate the impact of your work will, not just score you double points, but will quickly put your name in front of the right people at Golix.

  • While building a website for your church will give an edge over most of the applicants the applications you are competing with for that position, demonstrating how the website you built has reduced the churches’ cost of distributing announcements by 90% or how, because of your website, the church now starts on time instead of 30 minutes late, will score you double points.
  • Or, if you’re the Treasurer at church, demonstrating how the policies and procedures you introduced have made it impossible for the people that count to steal and are saving the church $20k every month.
    Instead of writing your CV as: “I am Z”, you want to write it as “I achieved X, relative to Y, by doing Z”.

3. We like self-expression and originality:

Most of the CVs I look at are the same and I rarely see any effort by the applicant to express their individuality or uniqueness. There is no right way to write a CV but the goal is to convince the person who picks up your CV that they should hire you and not everybody else who applied for that position. In my opinion, the best way to do that is to write a CV that stands out from everybody else’s.

4. We like CVs that are written for us:

There are two types of students: The first (which is the majority) are students will make one CV and then distribute it to as many companies as they can. Let’s call these ‘students are looking for an attachment’. We like to throw CVs from this group in the bin. The second type of student is ‘students that want to be attached to Golix’. When we look at CVs, we can easily tell one which camp the applicant lies in. In fact, this blog post is really written for the later.
Getting a job is a sales process (you are selling yourself) and any good salesperson will tell you that, before you sell to your customer, you need to find out what your customer needs (not what they say they want), so we can tell from your CV and your cover letter if you have done your research.
We don’t like to hire ‘students that are looking for a job’. We only hire ‘students that want to come and work at Golix’. We can tell if the candidate had Golix in mind when they wrote their CV or if they wrote one CV to distribute to every company. We’re human too so it’s within us to want people that want us even more. And, as a good salesperson, if you can demonstrate that you can give us what we need, more than what we think we want, you’re the one we’ll call first.

Some other things we care about in your CV:

  1. We care about your career objective. And we’re looking for look for ambition. We also want to see if we’re good for you considering where you want to take your career.
  2. If there is something amazing you’ve built or achieved, we want to know. Even if it’s outside work or school — that’s because we believe that high achievers in other areas of life, will likely be high achievers when they join Golix.
  3. We care about references too. Here I’m not referring to your lecturers or your Attachment Liason Officer but we would like to get the contact information of someone you have worked with on some of the projects or sports you have mentioned in our CV and hear from them what it was like to work with you on them. We do call all your references too (unless it’s your lecturer).

And some things we don’t care about are:

  • We don’t like unnecessary personal information:
    Right now, we don’t really care about all that information you’re putting in the personal details section. We don’t care if you’re married, where you live or what your gender is. We just want to be able to reach you if we think you’re a rockstar so just give us your email, your mobile number, or both.
  • We don’t like typos:
    From my experience, people with typos in their CVs tend to be sloppy at work when we hire them. If you have typos in your CV, we probably won’t call you because we’re afraid that you won’t have the kind of attention to detail we want to see at Golix.
  • We don’t like long CVs:
    Try to make your CV fit on one page. If you need more than one page to sell yourself you probably won’t succeed as an attaché at Golix anyway.
  • We don’t like fancy CVs:
    Unless you’re applying to for a Graphics Designer position, try to keep your CV simple.
  • We don’t like buzzwords:
    If you can’t say it in a way that your grandmother or your 5-year-old cousin can understand, then you probably don’t understand it yourself. Why then should we listen to you?

How to submit your CV for an attachment position at Golix

I’ve asked some attaché applicants why their CVs look like everybody else’s and in every case, they told me that it’s because that’ show their Industrial Attachment Liason Officer told them that: that is how a CV is written.

If this is true, then I believe that the Liason Officer is giving students bad advice.

The job marketplace today is competitive and the people that can sell themselves the best are more likely to fill the best vacancies. What will set you ahead of the competition is standing out, originality and ‘saying it with flowers’.

Thankfully, technologies such as the internet are making the world a better place by making it easier for people like me to share my ideas & my experience; And making it easier for people like you to consume knowledge & education from more than just one person.

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