How to write a CV
Your CV should summarise your experiences and skills, significantly emphasising those aspects that relate to the job. It provides a quick overview of who you are and what you have done, indicating for the reader what you could do.
Let everything you write be guided by these questions: what does this say about me and add to my application? Is it what the employer is looking for? Could this be said more persuasively or concisely? Can I evidence what I am writing or quantify my achievement?
Very little time will be devoted by a hiring manager to looking at your CV, probably around 40 seconds. Let that guide what you write and how you organise the information. Avoid using any words on your CV that do not achieve something. You want the reader’s attention to be completely drawn to the good stuff and not overwhelmed with information. A two page CV is perfectly acceptable and what we recommend. Europass style CVs are not welcomed by employers in Denmark.
Today’s CV extends well beyond what you send to the employers, to not just your LinkedIn profile but anything that can be found through a search engine. Assume that an employer will research you online. A good CV will direct their attention to what you want them to see: LinkedIn, a portfolio, blog, example work etc. Consider posting a few things prior to the interview on your social media that indicates your interest in the relevant industry or company values.
Producing a good CV is as much about doing things that are relevant to your career aspirations as it is about what you write. The more you can show that your experience is relevant to the role you are applying to the better. Although preferable, you don’t have to have worked in the same industry to which you are applying. What skills and knowledge do you have that is relevant or interesting for the employer?
Customize every time!
Aim to create a common thread throughout your CV that fits with the requirements of the job to which you are applying, emphasising features of your experience that match the position requirements. Try to keep a regularly updated record of all your experiences.
The right structure for your CV?
The structure of your CV is less important than whether it is clear and concise. When written well a CV that is organised around your skills can be very effective. However, this can be difficult to achieve without unnecessary duplication of information and may leave the reader unclear about the journey you have. For students and young graduates we recommend the chronological style of CV. All CVs should give more information about your most recent experiences.
Focus on positive results
Your CV should explain the outcomes of your different responsibilities so the employer knows what you have achieved. The more specific and more quantitative the results you give the better. You can also provide links to examples of your work and recommendations from colleagues.
Add breadth to your CV with additional skills
It is worthwhile including additional ‘hard’ skills you have developed if they are not explained in your responsibilities. You will likely have done something interesting outside of studying that will have developed you as a person. Include these things that suggest a positive personal attribute, skills and accomplishment. You may well find that these are topics of conversation in the interview and help you build rapport. Avoid simply listing your interests (ie ‘reading, chess, baking….’), which adds little and might appear unprofessional.
Never lie but do be persuasive, positive and confident. There shouldn’t be any gaps that might leave the reader with questions.
1. Contact Information
Make sure your name and contact details are clearly visible (and correct!). There is no need for unnecessary headlines such as ’Name:’ and ’Address:’. Instead use font size to clearly differentiate these.
Age & Marital Status
Think carefully before including your marital status, age, health or anything similar. Do these details sell you as an applicant?
Clearly break up the information on your CV and guide the reader with headlines, spaces and different fonts.
CVs in Denmark are likely to include a photo. If you have a professional looking photo, including it can be a nice way to personalise your CV.
This paragraph should be like an elevator pitch summarising who you are and why the employer should hire you. It should be tailored to the role and employer, concise and not cliché. Evaluate each phrase you write, asking yourself: do I need this many words to get across the same idea? Do I sound confident in myself? Could I be using an adjective to differentiate myself and be persuasive? Could every other applicant for this role write the same thing that I am writing?
4. Education or Experience first?
As a student or young graduate it is likely that your most significant skills and experience will come from your education. This will probably be the same for your competition so your employment, extracurricular activities and voluntary experiences will play a significant role in differentiating you from the other candidates. When ordering your CV think carefully about what is most impressive or interesting for the employer and put that at the top.
Don’t simply choose all your subject areas but instead describe the areas that you think are relevant for the job.
If your grades are good then share them.
7. Key Learning
What is it that you bring to the employer from your past experiences?
8. Company Description
If it is not clear and you think it adds to your CV, you can include a description of the company (i.e. Financial Services Firm, +100 employees.). Alternatively, you could work these details into the responsibilities section.
Only include those responsibilities which add something to you CV and make you more attractive in the eyes of the employer. If you’ve had similar responsibilities in different positions, try to avoid duplicating what you write on your CV – emphasise a different aspect, show your breadth of experiences and development towards where you want to be.
Always think about whether the type and size of your font is easily readable for others.
Your relevant successes and where you made a difference should be included, particularly if they are concrete examples or your work was recognised in someway.
Only include what demonstrates a competency, knowledge or accomplishment that the employer might see as desirable.
13. Sports, reading, chess foreign travel etc
’An interest in world food and skiing’ does little to demonstrate a competency and serves more as clutter that detracts from your professional message.
This is best a section about your hard skills (your soft skills should be apparent from your responsibilities and achievements). Consider whether very common skills (i.e. Microsoft Word and Email) add to your offering. If you’ve been to University, or you can program in C++, the employer can safely assume you have basic computer skills.
Generally it is assumed that you will be able to provide references upon request.