AAU Career

CV

The CV is an overview of your experiences, competencies, merits and your general ‘profile’. A large part of writing a good CV is therefore the art of restriction. You have to find a balance where you include enough information to paint the right picture but still keep the CV clear and easily comprehensible.

This means that for every situation where you need a CV, you have to reconsider what is relevant and how to best communicate your message.

The CV - One size doesn't fit all

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    What should a CV contain?

    • A headline that clearly indicates, that this is your CV
    • Subheadings that specify what each section is presenting e.g. “Education”, “Work experience” ect.
    • A distinct specification of when the different activities included in your CV took place.
    • Always remember to list the activities in reversed chronological order, so the most recent ones are first in each category.
    • Contact information - including your LinkedIn profile
    • A profile text or summary (more on this in one of the sections below)
    • An overview of your relevant educational background
    • An overview of relevant work experience
    • An overview of relevant volunteer work
    • Language proficiencies
    • IT skills
    • State that you can provide references if requested (do not include them in the CV itself)
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    What else can a CV include?

    A resume can also include:

    • A photo
    • A text that describes something more ‘personal’, such as leisure interests
    • Overview of academic publications, if any
    • Other information that may be relevant to the recipient
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    What about the form of the CV?

    In terms of form, there are some recommendations:

    • A layout that suits you and your professional/academic profile. If you’re a graphic artist, it’s of course an opportunity to show your professionalism instead of just telling a future employer about it.
    • For a ‘traditional’ CV, a length of 1 to 3 pages is recommended. A one-pager can be a good idea, but primarily as a kind of ‘business card’ e.g. when you’re visiting fairs or other networking purposes.
    • Communicate as simply as possible without losing meaning.
    • Always think about how to give the best overview, in terms of both the timespan and content of your experiences.
    • Be sure to draw the reader's attention to the most important parts. Use bold, italics, or underlining typographies as tools to catch the eye - for example, words that you consider to be keywords using your knowledge of the company and any job posting.
    • Make sure the most important section comes first. If you are looking for an internship, it is likely a part of your education, and therefore it makes sense to list your education prior to your work experience in your CV. On the other hand, the opposite makes sense if you have relevant work experience in relation to a job you are applying for.

    Having said all that, there is no fixed formula for writing a good CV. There are alternative methods to communicate your CV. For example your LinkedIn profile can be a great supplement to the traditional CV, or perhaps you can make a video presentation of yourself.

    All in all, the most important message is that you – with the above mentioned elements in mind - make the right "CV" for the right situation, whatever it may be.

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    What about the profile text?

    The profile text is a guide to the reader of the CV.

    As noted above, your CV should include a profile text or some kind of summary that serves as an introduction. The purpose of the text is to summarise your experiences and competences so that your overall profile stands out more clearly to the reader.

    Therefore, it’s a good idea to revise the profile text every time you send out your resume. It may not be necessary to rewrite it altogether, but you should tweak it to fit as closely as possible to what is required in the position you are looking for. Here, research is again the foundation, on which you must build it all. 

    If your experiences are pointing in different directions - one pointing towards the field of communication, one who points to some shop experience and a master’s degree in public health science with a bachelor’s degree in health care - you have to help the reader see a common thread through your profile.
    All your experiences may be relevant, but it requires a translation from sporadic picks to an overall narrative. If one of the experiences you’ve mentioned in the CV doen’t fit the narrative, it is possible that it is not relevant enough to be included in the CV.

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    How do I make my CV stand out in the crowd?

    Sometimes it may be valuable to include something a little different in your CV, because it can spice up the narrative. It can show that you have a perspective on something that lies outside the ‘direct course’. Perhaps you have spent a few semesters studying something significantly different from your current study - and perhaps it may have been a factor in choosing to switch to the study you’re currently working on or have just completed.

    What may seem like totally ‘irrelevant’ experiences are not necessarily irrelevant at all. For example, you may want to show the reader that you have worked continuously, from the age of 15 until now. Perhaps you have had various leisure jobs or you have always helped on your father's farm when harvesting. Even though the jobs might not be professionally relevant, both stories show that you are hardworking, proactive, helpful and that you don’t mind pulling up your sleeves when needed. It doesn’t necessarily fit into your professional narrative as such – but it surely says something about you. Sometimes it is better to show your willingness to work than to tell about the will to work.

    There are no fixed rules for which experiences should go in a CV - so it's entirely up to you. Just make sure to include the most important things.

Scrutinize your experience with the “STARC” model

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    How can I use the STARC-model for my experiences in the cv?

    The content of the different sections of your CV should provide the amount of knowledge the reader needs in as little space as possible. That is a difficult balancing act.

    When guiding students, we often use the so-called "STARC" model as a "reminder" to make sure that every experience gets a thorough exposition. "STARC" is an abbreviation of "Situation, Task, Action, Result and Competence".

    What does it mean in this context, though? Remember that it only serves as a memo and that you have to evaluate how much room each part should take up.

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    Situation - what does that cover?

    What was the framework for the task you were facing?  It can be in both study and job context.

    Study context: Tell about the study, the university and the context of the experience - including if you have worked with an organisation in a project.

    Job context: If it´s a job experience, describe the company and its work in very brief terms. It will help give the reader an understanding of the organisational and cultural framework of your experience.

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    Task - what does that cover?

    What was the task? What was the challenge you were facing?

    Study context: This part can be a little tricky, as some study-related tasks have been initiated by requirements set by the curriculum. But try to describe, for example, the basis for the problem formulation you have worked with. What was the challenge that you contributed to solving or gave an academic input to?

    Job context: In the job context, it’s more "natural" to describe the tasks than in a study-setting. You can for example describe the relevant responsibilities and specific tasks you have solved.

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    Action - what does that cover?

    What did you do to solve the task? Which "tools" did you use?

    When describing something technical, keep the reader in mind. Think about how your explanations of how you solved the assignment can be related to the position, you are applying for. It is often simple to explain something difficult in a complex way, but difficult to explain something complex in a simple way. Try to make your explanations as simple as possible.

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    Result - what does that cover?

    What did your work result in? Who got something out of it?

    If you have collaborated with a company in a project, maybe the company has implemented parts of your work. Or maybe you have achieved some kin result of your efforts in your student job. There is no clear definition of what a "result" is.

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    Competence - what does that cover?

    What does a specific competence enable you to do? Which competences can you take away from your work or study experience?

    You can also talk about competences as a result – these are the skills that you’ll put into play in your future work. It can be competences of both professional and personal quality.

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