The dreaded 2-page CV, for seasoned aid workers

Photo by: ssteacher / CC BY-NC-ND

As a senior development professional, you may have an edge when pursuing a coveted consulting or staff position. But what if you’re being asked to submit a two-page resume?

How do you condense your wealth of experiences and skills into a shorter CV that truly speaks to the job you are applying for?

Here are a few tips drawn from my work as a professional CV writer for the Devex CV Writing Service, which helps professionals regardless of their level of skill and experience craft a winning resume. For much more detailed advice for mid- to senior-level aid workers on how to tailor your resume, highlight your skills and use language that will catch a recruiter’s eye, check out my companion piece, ”How to write a resume: Tips for seasoned aid workers.”

Tailor your CV

Read through the job spec carefully and pick out keywords and qualifications required (or desired) by the hiring organization (use our job interview preparation sheet to help in this process). Then write your CV initially to closely mirror that information.

Any skill and experience that doesn’t relate to the vacancy you’re eying should be summarized in brief only. You may bring them up during the job interview, should you be invited to one.

Consider a functional CV

Although most people — including recruiters — still prefer the reverse chronological CV, there are many options on how to format and present your resume. Take a look at our quick guide to resume formats to find out common CV templates.

As your experience builds, the functional resume, which outlines your key experiences in groups of skill bases (e.g. Operations & Strategy, HR & Capacity Building, Programming, Communication, Interface & Representation, et cetera) may become a more attractive choice.

But: Don’t forget to include a simple job chronology after listing your functional skill sets. Most recruiters want to see your career development with one glance without having to jump from one section to another, and your application might be dismissed on the spot if you give them the sense that your CV structure is meant to mask holes in your career.

Connect online

Take time to create an account with Devex and LinkedIn, and include complete details of all your endeavors, including jobs, training, presentations, side activities and so on. At the beginning of your CV, include links to your Web profiles.

Consider starting a personal blog to discuss your career and achievements in more detail, and provide a link on your CV as well. You can set up a free and easy account using WordpressBlogger and other websites.

Published materials and presentations

Creating a comprehensive professional profile online will allow you to simplify your CV by trimming long lists of publications, presentations and conferences to one or two bullet points stating that you have been “prolifically published,” for example. Include the number of publications and presentations, and a short list of topics.

Include one or two examples of the most relevant and recent publications and presentations, and in brackets provide a link to Devex, LinkedIn or a personal blog site, or simply indicate that a full list of all such activities can be provided upon request.

Training

As a senior-level candidate, you probably could spend an entire page just listing the various training programs you have undergone in your career. But that much detail is not necessary on your resume.

Try to divide the training programs into “functional” groups and provide general information about them, such as: advanced training in donor management software, leadership and management, negotiation and conflict resolution, et cetera.

If highly relevant to the job, then add an extra point with specific training programs that will speak to the hiring manager.

Once again, make use of Internet resources available to you and point the recruiter to full lists elsewhere.

References

Nowadays, providing reference information on a CV is fairly obsolete, especially if you are short on space.

I would even go as far as to say that it is not necessary to even waste a single line stating that references will be provided upon request. This is implied and tends to be relevant only during a latter part of the application process.

Early career

It is perfectly OK — and probably a good idea — not to dwell on the details about more junior positions you’ve held toward the beginning of your career. If you have been in a role for a long time — a government position, for example — then only point to the skills, competencies and experiences of your most senior positions. The rest will come out during the interview, should you be invited to one.

Enlist help

If all this is still not enough, why not save yourself the time and hassle and let Devex write your CV for you. All of our professional CV writers specialize in international development, so no one is better positioned to truly know your needs as well as those of your potential future employer.

Read more about writing a senior-level CV.

About the author

  • Ioulia fenton picture

    Ioulia Fenton

    Ioulia Fenton advises job seekers on resume writing as part of the Devex CV Writing Service. She also blogs about international development career matters. Ioulia is a writer and editor who runs a prize winning international development blog thedevelopmentroast.org, serves as assistant editor of the Global South Development Magazine and leads the online content for generationdevelopment.org. She has worked with the Institute of Advanced Development Studies in La Paz, Bolivia, interned with UNESCAP in Bangkok, Thailand, and is currently based in Guatemala.