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Parliament & the resumes of ministerial appointees

Mon, 14 Mar 2016 Source: Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey

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What did the curriculum vitae (cv)/resumes submitted by the President’s recent Ministerial nominees have to do with a lack of diligence charge levelled against them by Parliament’s Vetting Committee?

A lot, it seems.

The Vetting Committee “complained that the nominees had issues with their Curriculum Vitae (CV). There were many gaps and sometimes overlaps and seeming conflict in the CVs submitted, and the nominees were requested to re-submit their CVs.”

Why are CVs important in political or any appointment? How is it possible for high profile appointees to have serious questions raised about resumes they might have submitted many times before? What are the implications of gaps on one’s cv? How can the presentation of Cvs be improved? For answers to these, I spoke to Dr Esi Ansah, Founding Partner and Chief Executive Officer of Axis Human Capital ltd, a firm that specialises in “generating human capital solutions for clients” including recruitment, corporate training, and professional development packages such as CV writing, career coaching, and self-assessments , among others.

“In my work, I talk about CVs not necessarily getting you the job, but getting you to the door, where you can have access to the interview panel for further assessment. CVs are therefore important. They capture one’s skills and experience and also serve as a marketing tool” explained Dr Ansah.

Defects in CVs

The above then raised the dilemma of high-level job applicants with CV defects. Presumably, possessing well-written CVs should be a matter of course, given the professional circles in which such appointees may have operated, with repeated opportunities to submit CVs in the past. Are such Cv related challenges, therefore, common at such a high level, in the experience of Dr Ansah and what do unexplained gaps in CVs actually mean?

“The gap is where the story is.” Gaps in CVs may be explained by time taken off schooling, further training, lack of readiness to tell the world what actually happened, unpleasant termination circumstances around previous job or some disciplinary issue in the course of the job, special family circumstance e.g. sick child, or a period when a professional was out of contract.

When Esi started working in Ghana sometime in 2008, she would routinely discard the terrible CVs of about 90 percent of job applicants – text highlighted in red and/or multiple font colors, use of all capital text, different font sizes, massive spelling errors etc. It was at this point that she started asking herself who was really teaching people how to write CVs, even as early as secondary schools? Subsequently, she started conducting CV reviews after each job interview and giving structured feedback to would-be applicants to improve their personal brand as captured on their CVs. Today, she finds a general improvement in the CVs submitted to Axis.

Poorly written CVs

As it turns out, it is not uncommon at all for senior professionals to have poorly written CVs. The reasons for this may vary. Such senior professionals may not have job hunted for a while resulting in CVs that would have been lying fallow without a review. Given the culture of being recommended for jobs, it is also entirely possible that such people may never have had to go through formal recruitment processes, thus making a CV redundant. Other senior professionals have the attitude that CVs are simply not important and do not give it the necessary attention.

In the words of Esi Ansah, “Some just throw it at their secretaries to type out, without bothering to double check and edit. All drafting errors are thus certainly repeated in the final document. If it matters to you, then when the document comes back to you, you should proof read it etc. A poorly written cv cannot at a later stage be blamed on a secretary which is why here, we insist that it is your responsibility to write it because it is your brand.”

Do CVs actually ensure the selection of competent appointees? Not necessarily. Indeed, examples exist of applicants with excellently written cvs but that show up at job interviews with terrible attitudes. At the high level of political office, Dr Esi Ansah took the position that one did not necessarily need to have professional competence in a particular portfolio to be appointment to that portfolio or to even excel at it. What is needed is a good track record of management and leadership accomplishments and a well-articulated resume.

Columnist: Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey