How to write a CV in Nigeria (undergraduates, fresh graduates)

A man at a job interview with recruiters reviewing his CV

First impressions are important in a curriculum vitae. Writing a strong CV in Nigeria requires technical knowledge. Here are some tips for you, whether an undergraduate, or post-graduate.

While making money online in Nigeria has its perks, every applicant wants the highest-paying Nigerian jobs; therefore, competition is always tough in the labour market. 

This competition constantly strives to showcase their greatest qualities on their CV, as a result, creating a CV that distinguishes you from other applicants in Nigeria is essential.

In a strong CV, the recruiter quickly identifies all pertinent information. You must be engaging, straightforward, and succinct.

Always place yourself in the reviewer’s position, keeping in mind that they may not always have much time. Remember that the CV is a tool for pre-selection to gain an interview.

If you do not know how to write a CV in Nigeria, the aspects essential to creating a strong curriculum vitae are outlined here.

Before writing your CV in Nigeria

Before drafting your CV, ask yourself a few questions. The simplest method to create a strong CV in Nigeria is to consider the demands of your potential company. 

To do this, you must visualise which questions are relevant to the organisation and which profile it is seeking.

Who are you?

This question may seem straightforward, but it is crucial that you provide a thoughtful and sincere response.

Consider how the values that define you might support or impede your aspirational stance. Before selling yourself via your CV, it is always beneficial to recall who you are and what your strengths and limitations are.

What can you offer the organisation?

Consider the organisation's profile seeking the job in question (skills, quality, experience, training, and personality).

Consider what makes you unique for the position and how it may benefit the organisation seeking your skills. Beyond what is immediately linked to your training, expand your horizons.

Remember that people with similar degrees will have distinct qualities, skills, and motivations.

How to write a CV in Nigeria with samples and templates

According to a 2018 survey by Tilkee, recruiters spend an average of 34 seconds reviewing a CV. The finest CVs chosen will be read aloud for many minutes. While the worst will get just about seven seconds of attention, the best CVs will be considered for hours.

The latter are penalised by their layout, highlighting the need to choose a professional CV template.

To write a captivating CV in Nigeria, ensure you religiously follow each of the practices listed below:

1. Give your CV a top-header

At the start of your CV, indicate the title of the post for which you are applying. Example: "Export sales assistant".

This title is required since the recruiter cannot assume which job you seek.

You may also provide a professional aim, such as "objective to become a technician," in the case of an apprenticeship contract search.

Like all the words on the CV, the title is crucial since an increasing number of firms in Nigeria utilise keyword-analysis software to choose applicants.

Consider the phrases used in the title with consideration. In banking, for instance, the term “cashier” has been substituted with “bank clerk”. Examine how employment offers are worded to ensure you are not in error.

2. Prepare a captivating hook

Many candidates will move directly on to more important matters such as experience or training. Don't miss the chance to summarise your career and explain how you can solve the employer's challenges.

Sometimes referred to as "About Me," "Summary," or "Objective," all terms refer to the same thing: a brief opening descriptive paragraph.

3. Use pleasantly readable text

A well-organized CV with a touch of colour compels recruiters to read it. You may include the logos of the major corporations for whom you have worked, knowing that uniqueness has a place if it is appropriate for the area in which one is applying.

Certain fields, like marketing and design, need innovation. For example, recruiters anticipate a more conventional candidate when offering a management controller post.

It is advantageous to stand out, but be wary of excessive colour and CV overload.

4. Organise and format your CV

Current technology also provides us benefits when it comes to CV templates. If unsure how to compose your CV, you may download templates from or Canva and modify them to your satisfaction. 

Many offer a vital format for effectively presenting your education on the CV. When you begin writing your CV, you will be able to choose from a variety of websites that provide a diversity of templates, and you will also have the option of using Photoshop to create a more complex layout.

Most CV samples are modifiable by part, allowing you to arrange them in the manner you see most suitable. However, take care not to be too imaginative while designing them.

5. Bolden important words or events

For each diploma, specify the year on the left and the title, the name of the institution, and the city on the right. If you attended a prestigious university, you might emphasise it in bold.

6. Present in a sequential order

Since it is simpler for the recruiter to read, your training course must be provided in chronological order: first, what you are presently doing, and then, in the following lines, your prior diplomas, year by year.

7. Let your CV be one page

A CV should ideally be one page long, on a white backdrop and using a classic font (Arial or Times New Roman in size 11 or 12).

8. Focus on action verbs

Try to employ as many action verbs as possible while explaining your experiences. In 2014, Oasys conducted a survey revealing that over two-thirds of recruiters favour action verbs, with CareerBuilder corroborating this report in 2013. These verbs motivate action and have more power than others.

Examples of correct use of action verbs in CV are:

  • Control inventory
  • Increase output
  • Create a marketing effort
  • Optimise travel
  • Market the service
  • Negotiate rates
  • Plan the budget
  • Control product quality

9. Include contact details

Enter your first and last name. A recurring question is whether the date of birth or age should be provided. 

Revealing your age is far more beneficial since it spares the recruiter or person reviewing CVs the trouble of calculating the number of years that have passed since your birth date.

Regarding the location, there is no applicable legislation. Consider the following scenario: you list only your city and department or province of residence, but the company that wants to hire you cannot reach you by phone or email. 

Is this a bit excessive? Perhaps, but it is prudent to consider every possibility. Therefore, it is recommended to provide your full address on your CV.

Don't forget to include your phone number, email address, LinkedIn profile, and, if you have one, your website so that companies can access your projects. 

Also include your availability (from what day you can start the job) and your mobility (departmental, national, international.).

How to incorporate contact information into a CV in Nigeria

You may input your contact information in the upper left corner: name (in capital letters), age, address, phone number, and email address in bold.

Include a phone number and an email address in the contact information. Do not commit the error of providing multiple phone numbers or email addresses.

Today, recruiters mostly contact prospects via these two channels since postal addresses are no longer required. For your CV to be genuine, include a professional email address consisting of your first and last name.

Consider including links to your profiles on professional social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn. It is advantageous to demonstrate your presence on this sort of network.

Additionally, you may set your availability and geographic mobility. This will prevent the recruiter from searching for this information in the email or cover letter.

10. List your skills

In this portion of the CV, you must first include the desired talents suitable for your prospective company. Start with the relevant skills and knowledge for the desired position.

You must be able to defend anything included in your CV. In the abilities area, you must not exaggerate your qualifications, lest you find yourself in a bind if the recruiter tests you during the interview.

11. Describe your academic background

Indicate on your CV the studies you have completed, the institution or university, prestigious where you pursued them, and the year for each course. Check the list of Nigerian federal universities ranked according to their reputation.

12. Experience

Again, keep in mind the context of the CV you're producing, and consider which of your experiences may enhance the employer's perception of you. 

Emphasise all your professional experience relevant to the job in question. Mention the dates, such as May to October 2017, rather than just 2017. Otherwise, recruiters may get the idea that the prospect is concealing anything in his career.

13. Prepare two CVs

Depending on the firm, CVs are occasionally evaluated by individuals unfamiliar with technical language. Nothing prevents you from preparing a second, more technical CV if you have expertise in a specialised subject.

Indicate the name of the firm for which you worked, its location, its industry, and whether or not you had direct reports. This final point can help you optimise your CV presentation.

14. Use a professional image

This is the constant conundrum of CV writing. Our recommendation is to put a picture on your CV. Why? Because Nigerian recruiters and HR managers want a CV as near to the truth as feasible.

Avoid including photographs taken on the beach, at a bar with friends, in automobiles, or any other non-serious context.

Choose a shot taken by a professional photographer or with the most neutral backdrop possible.

Display your individuality, use neutral clothing, and be as natural as possible. You would be astonished by how much a single photograph can reveal about you.

15. Personalise your passions in depth

This part should only be filled out if you have regular activities you can discuss in the interview. Exhibit your individuality and dynamism by selecting activities as specific as feasible. 

Indicate the sport you participate in, whether you belong to a club, and your level of competitiveness.

Some Nigerian recruiters linger in this area since applicants' certificates are often identical. Rather than expressing that you like travelling to ten countries, describe the one that has left the most impression on you.

This area is optional, so avoid generalisations such as "reading, movies, and social excursions." The recruiter wants to get a sense of your character, so the practice of a sport should be something that recruiters can value.

For a career in safety and security, for example, a combat sport will be relevant. Identify a connection between the job sought or the company's field and the area of interest.

16. Further information

Indicate the languages you're fluent in and the courses you've taken in areas of expertise far from your primary training.

This information might be helpful when reviewing your CV.

How to write a CV in Nigeria for undergraduates or fresh graduates

In addition to addressing and incorporating each of the points above, recent graduates and students in Nigeria should add the following to their CVs:

1. Start with the section on training

Recruiters will be particularly interested in training on the CVs of undergraduates or fresh graduates; therefore, place this section before that of professional experience (if there's any).

Include as much information as possible regarding your training, including whether they served as initial training, alternation, or training locations.

2. Promote yourself without exaggeration

Some recruiters value specific remarks, while others do not. You may also specify the topic of your dissertation and whether you have travelled or relocated throughout your term of study.

Only describe the relevant responsibilities for the role in question.

This section will get the utmost attention from your prospective employer. Place this part before the training section if you have done many internships or have between one and two years of experience.

Never neglect to specify the nature of the contract, such as an internship. Mention your experiences, but only elaborate on those relevant to the job. The "Internships" component is very important.

Describe the internship(s) you completed throughout your studies, including the name of the employer, the job held, the duration of your stay, and a description of your duties (especially the missions related to the position concerned). 

Use professional terminology without seeming too technical.

Six tips for writing a CV in Nigeria

  1. Do not provide your grade point average unless the hiring business demands it.
  2. Use straightforward language. If you use an unknown term, you should discover a close alternative and use it instead.
  3. Indicate the primary motivations for your application for this role. Money is a fundamental problem, but it has no place on a CV. 
  4. Spelling errors have no place on a CV. Everything revolves around you, so pay close attention to this facet.
  5. Even if this seems obvious, don't lie. Some recruiters or HR managers may assess some of the abilities or expertise listed on your CV. If you cannot show these skills, your prospects of landing the job will evaporate.
  6. For your CV to be genuine, include a professional email address consisting of your first and last name. 

Follow these guidelines for producing a legible CV, and you will be well on your way to landing the job you want.