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Make your CV have impact

Three out of four companies value CVs highest when selecting candidates for interviews. Here's a guide for writing a short, structured and targeted CV, as well as a template to get inspired by.

Most companies read the CV first. If your CV matches the company’s requirements, they will also read your application.

That's why it's essential to make an effort to write a clear and comprehensible CV which, most importantly, is targeted to the job you are applying for.

In this guide, you'll find answers to frequently asked questions about CVs, as well as a template CV you can use as inspiration.

Make a complete CV you can adapt

It is easier to remove than add. So begin your job search by making a complete CV including all details about past employment, education and experience.

Your full CV is too long and unfocused to be sent to prospective employers as part of your job search, but you can use it as a basis for making several targeted versions. That way you wont need to start over ever time you have to send your CV to a new business.

Your CV should be brief and clear

Companies only use a few minutes to sort job applications. That is why it is important to have a thoroughly reviewed CV where one can easily find the most important points.

One analysis found that most employers prefer CV of 1-2 pages, while the second largest share prefered CVs shorter than a single page. In other words: be concise when putting together your CV.

Use headlines to structure your CV and make it easy to glance through. You can use the following structure:

  • Summary/elevator pitch: Use the header to make a strong case for reading on. It should be captivating and say something about you and your professional profile - or about the challenges the company is looking for help solving.
  • Selected core competencies
  • Work experience in reverse chronological order
  • Education and additional training and courses in reverse chronological order
  • IT competences
  • Language (spoken and written)
  • Some information about your private life
  • Details about any referees

Begin by making an elevator pitch

Begin your CV with a short text of 5-7 lines about you and your motivation for applying for the job. Explain briefly and precisely why you are a qualified candidate and how you can assist the employer in reaching their targets.

Remember to focus on what is in it for the employer and how you can contribute - rather than how you can benefit from getting the job.

Think of this introduction as your elevator pitch: this is your first chance to sell yourself - and always make sure to target your pitch to the position in question.

Your competencies in point form

A survey by recruitment agency Ballisager found that 92 percent of surveyed companies liked when applicants wrote their competencies in bullet points.

Select the competencies that are most relevant for the position and explain how they are relevant for solving the job tasks described. Write them as bullet points after your introduction.

Your work experience and education

After the list of your core competencies, you should state your professional experience followed by a bullet point list of your education and any courses or professional training you have completed.

The employer is mostly interested in your most recent experience, so write both your work experience and education in reverse chronological order beginning with the most recent information.

Make sure to elaborate on which areas of responsibility and tasks you have undertaken in your previous positions and include which results you have helped to achieve. Use bullet points under each position.

Short employments and holes in your CV

Perhaps you worry what your employers thinks if you have a number of short employments or holes in your CV where you have been unemployed.

In both cases, the employer is likely to wonder what the reason might be. Anticipate any scepticism by answering their questions in advance.

  • Short employments: The employer might be worried that you are difficult to collaborate with. Give the reason for the short employments. Perhaps you have wanted to try out your skills in many different roles, or you have been hired in temporary positions. Try to find a connection between your many past positions by pointing to the core competencies you have used in them all.
  • Holes in your CV: Few employers would think negatively of short periods of unemployment in your CV if you are otherwise a good match for the job. If you have many long periods of unemployment, some may be concerned how you have managed to maintain your skills. Write how you have stayed up to date and why finding a job has taken a long time.

References from past employers

It is a good idea to write that you have references from past employers. It is rarely necessary to attach references in advance. Most employers will inform you before they reach out to your referees. That gives you time to brief your referee and inform them of the competencies they should highlight in connection to the job you are applying for.

Should you attach a photo to your CV?

More companies have introduced HR systems that hide information about a candidate's gender, age and ethnicity. For this reason, candidate photos are also hidden.

However, a survey by recruitment agency Ballisager found that 73 percent of companies think positively of CV photos.

It is up to you to decide whether you are comfortable with using a CV photo. If you choose to, remember to use a recent and professional portrait. If you do not have one, you can ask a friend or partner to take your photo against a neutral background.

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