Put yourself in the driver’s seat with a good CV

You should never underestimate your CV. Another word for a CV is resume. Your CV is often your ticket to a job interview. If your CV is well put together, you may even end up in the driver's seat for the job interview.

The purpose of your resume

A CV has two purposes, and they are both important:

1 – Your resume gets you to the job interview

Your resume is your primary marketing tool. Hence, you need to think strategically so that your resume presents you in the best possible way. Therefore, your CV is your sales and marketing tool that can ensure that you are among those invited to the next step in a hiring process. So, your resume is your ticket to a job interview or an initial screening depending on the recruitment process.

Since your resume is your key tool, you need to select elements from your gross resume that present you in the best manner for the job so that an employer becomes curious enough to want to meet you. A tailor-made CV for the specific position you’re applying for stands stronger than a CV based on a one-size-fits-all perception.

2 – Your resume can help determine the job interview

A good CV gets you to the job interview and gives you an advantage at the interview. By providing exciting examples from your studies or previous job in the CV, you can arouse an employer's curiosity. Your examples act as cliff-hangers which allow you to talk about the things you are proud of and passionate about. And perhaps an employer altogether forgets to ask about where you failed in your last job. By giving an employer interesting cliff-hangers, you are ensuring that the focus will be on your successes and potential contributions rather than your failures.

Therefore, your CV not only gets you to a job interview, but also helps you to shape the job interview to your advantage.

CV layout: How to structure your CV

An employer should be able to skim your CV in one minute! Make sure essential information such as name, address, education, and job are easy to find. Please remember to give a little bit of yourself so that an employer becomes curious and wants to meet you.

By following these 10 habits, you are well on your way

With these 10 habits, you are well on your way to creating your strategic presentation with a sharp focus on the job. Essential information is, of course, the same in all your CVs, but customize your CV by giving a perspective relating to the particular position.

For instance, if you are a nurse looking for a job, then perspectives would differ depending on whether the job is at a general practitioner or in a surgical department. In the first case, you would focus on competencies such as your strong communication skills, service-minded approach, and generalist skills. Whereas addressing a job in a surgical department, you would emphasize your specialist knowledge and collaboration skills with the surgical team.

  1. Name and contact information. This is important information, so make sure it is strategically placed with bigger or bolder lettering than the rest. Consider making your name even more prominent than in this example.

    If your CV is 3-4 pages, it can work well with your name and contact info as a footer from page 2.

  2. Layout. Make sure it is easy to skim your resume. Jobindex has a generic CV that you can download for free. Office365 also has a large selection of CV templates for free usage.

    If you are an IT-developer, you will probably choose a structured layout. If you’re in a creative industry, your CV-layout might be artsier. Regardless of whether your layout is simple, modern, or classic, please remember that the reader must be able to skim your CV in one minute. Therefore, it’s often a good idea to use a standard template that you fine-tune. In Jobindex's template, the layout ensures that the portrait, contact info, profile, and job experiences are easy to find and navigate.

  3. Hardware and software. Your hardware are your competencies learned through your education, courses, or self-studies. In the example, the hardware is Microsoft Office Pro, Adobe, MailChimp, SoMe, and language skills. Specify the language level with terms such as superuser, native language, etc. Hardware could also be Prince2 project management or CFD simulations.

    Your software may also be called soft skills or people skills. They are social competencies such as creativity, collaboration skills, perseverance, or empathy. When it comes to your software, Show, don’t tell. Don’t write in the profile text (see # 5) that you are creative or persistent. Instead, demonstrate it by giving some examples of your creativity or persistence.

  4. Abbreviations and professional lingo – should, should not. On the one hand, not everyone knows what FEM/PED calculations, Python, Navision, ECTS, SEO, PTSD, KPI, NGO, or intertextuality are. Therefore, it’s a good idea to explain things instead. For example:
    1. By using FEM calculations at Maersk, we ensure that constructions are correctly dimensioned so that critical loads do not occur.
    2. My last three jobs have been in non-governmental environmental organizations, i.e. NGOs. Both my geology professionalism and idealism come into play here.

    On the other hand, please be aware that search engine crawlers search for the particular skills stated in the job ad. This serves as an argument that these abbreviations should be included as abbreviations in your CV.

  5. Profile text. A profile text has become commonplace in a resume. It is the essence of your competencies linking to the particular job as well as your motivation. The profile text is placed just below your contact information and helps arouse the employer’s interest in you. Here you have the opportunity to be focused and look ahead.

    In the Jobindex example, the profile text is written in prose. You can also choose to do it with bullets like here:

    Property Manager with a knack for great customer service

    • Electrician and self-taught handyman who grabs the tool both on the job and at home.
    • 9 years of experience in servicing rental properties and residents.
    • Good communications skills ranging from rental rate increases to pets and children.
    • I am motivated for the job in X, as I will be part of a six-person team. We all have our own property portfolio and, at the same time, help each other out.

  6. Educations and courses. List them as here in reverse chronological order, i.e., with the latest first. Include graduation year, educational institution, and education title.

  7. Job/work experience. Describe your professional experience in reverse chronological order. Include year, job title, company, tasks and results. Make your decisions and opt-outs carefully. In general, focus on your latest jobs.

    If you have had multiple positions or roles in the same company, make sure that they are together so that it doesn’t look as if you have had two or three different jobs in various places.

    Explain briefly, if necessary, the reason for your job changes, e.g., the subsidiary closed, you were headhunted for your dream job, mass layoffs, or you decided to resign.

  8. Tagline. If your CV is more than one page, you can consider placing 3-4 keywords that describe your core competencies and interests as a page header except on the first page.

    A tagline for Jobindex' candidate profile could be: Retail – Project Management – Communication

  9. Be generous. Share a little bit of yourself by showing who you are and what motivates you (within the framework of a CV). Employers don’t hire resumes. They hire people!

  10. The devil is in the detail. Please, no spelling or sloppy mistakes.

This article is part of a series that gives advice based on the book Jobjagt.

In Jobjagt, Birgit O’Sullivan shares her experience about hunting for a job. She has many years of experience with recruitment for startups and international businesses in Denmark and abroad.

The book is available at bookstores and online or can be borrowed at the library. Read more about the book Jobjagt here:

Contact Birgit O’Sullivan, O’Sullivan Consulting at