The ABC of a CV

You really want to get there, into that scary but at the same time exciting situation – the job interview.

At the interview you can tell them all about how you are a perfect match and how you can contribute to the company, but in order to get there you have to catch the recruiter’s interest and make them curious enough to call for that interview.

How to make a CV that catches the recruiter’s interest?

The answer spells CUSTOMIZE. It’s ok to have a standard version, but be sure to read the ad carefully and customize your CV. Most likely there are certain keywords or skills that you want to highlight.

Keep it short. Maximum 2 pages is a “normal” CV. An academic CV may require more pages if you include an appendix with your publications and grants. Think airy instead of squeezing things together or decreasing the font to unreadable.

Mind the language. Make sure you use the terminology correctly, if you are not a native speaker have somebody proofread, and finally for spelling mistakes, again have a second person proofread. Use an “active” tense so it is clear that you have been driving your career forward instead of having been dependent on others or that it just happened by accident. “I grabbed the opportunity” instead of “I was offered”.

Avoid clichés. Back to CUSTOMIZE. Read the ad, use keywords and highlight your talents with real examples or real life situations.

What elements not to forget?

Contact details – obvious but apparently easy to forget.

a summary. Ever heard of the elevator pitch? This is your customized pitch in maximum 3 sentences. Make sure it matches the job ad…

Skills and experiences asked for but also, do not underestimate extracurricular assignments, awards, volunteering or other positions that you have held in clubs or associations. Engagement shows responsibility and drive.  Skills are also transferable and not always obvious to yourself. Tell your story in examples that proves that you have the skills they are asking for.

Photo or not?. It various in different countries so check carefully before you apply. In Sweden it is mostly appreciated but not at all necessary.

Font, colors, layout. Again, easy to read and consistent in structure is more important than fancy and colorful. But…there is always room for a personal touch and we did start off with the intension of making the recruiter curious… A small detail like an odd hobby or any other detail may in fact be what gets you to the interview and also the job in the end. When I applied for one of my first jobs I signed my cover letter with my name by hand and made a flower next to my name – the flower was what the recruiter remembered when I called to check in on the process… it’s good to stand out a little!

PS: and have some good templates.

We have two events coming up related to the topic. If you are interested in working in Life Science, and at NovoNordisk in particular, they are offering a CV webinar May 4 at 2 pm. Together with Cruited we will be offering 50 online reviews of CV, LinkedIn profiles or cover letter free of charge during an upcoming campaign. It will be first come first serve. Campaigns like this we arrange a few times a year as we have an ongoing collaboration, so keep your eyes on Career Service Facebook. We are launching soon….

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