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How to write a cv

When applying for jobs you want the employer to have a look at your application and choose yours from all the others. So how do you write the CV that stands out from the crowd? In this episode you will learn more about the CV as Omid Rahmanian from the Swedish Public Employment Service gives us his best tips and advice.

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Transcripton of Arbetsförmedlingens Ny i Sverige-podd: How to write a CV

Intro music (FIRST STEP MUSIC)

(Johanna Pålsson)

Why do you need a CV and how do you write one in Sweden? In today's

episode we'll go through some dos and don'ts and what to think of

when applying for jobs with your CV. My guest today is Omid Rahmanian,

job-seeking expert from the Swedish Public Employment Service.My name

is Johanna Pålsson and you're listening to the New In Sweden podcast.

Hi, Omid, and welcome.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Hello, Johanna. Thank you very much.

(Johanna Pålsson)

So today we're here to talk about a CV

and how to make one here in Sweden.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Yeah.

(Johanna Pålsson)

You're the expert of this topic.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Supposedly.

(Johanna Pålsson)

Yeah. Starting off, why is it important to have a CV

when applying for jobs here in Sweden?

(Omid Rahmanian)

Well, basically it's about the employers have put out an ad that

they are looking for someone with, most of the time,

specific skill sets, and the process to hire someone is actually

quite... it can be quite difficult and it can be quite long, and you

want to be able to call the persons that are most suited for the job

or for the interview so you can see what type of skill sets

does this person have. Do they have the necessary skills

that your company wants?

And also it's not just about the hard skills, which is basically

what's most on a CV, but also about the soft skills,

but that's more about the cover letter.

(Johanna Pålsson)

Which we're going to talk about later as well.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Yeah, but those two are basically the application, so when you're

applying for a job, you hand in your CV, or as it's called also

résumé, and your cover letter.

(Johanna Pålsson)

Is there a difference between the résumé and the CV?

(Omid Rahmanian)

No, I think it's just a name thing. Now, I can't remember if it's...

I think it's in the United States that they call it a résumé.

(Johanna Pålsson)

So here in Sweden we keep to the CV.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Yeah.

(Johanna Pålsson)

So it's a presentation of yourself for the employer itself.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Presentation of your professional stuff, and it's very important

to make that distinction, because sometimes I think

a lot of people get confused when we're talking about

this is a presentation of yourself, and I think it's especially in the

cover letter that you basically think that it's me as a person,

which it kind of is, but it's more about the professional

part of you, what kind of education you have, what kind of

background you have, what kind of skills you have and stuff like that.

(Johanna Pålsson)

All right, so apart from the professional background like education

and experience, what else should be included in the CV?

(Omid Rahmanian)

Well, it all depends on what you're reading in the application,

so you need to make sure that you've understood

what the employer's seeking. So you need to see, OK...

Or I said application. What I meant is the job ad.

You need to look at the ad, see what they're seeking and

include those parts that it's beneficial for you to get called

to an interview. And I think that's really important to have with you

when you're applying for a job, that basically your CV

and cover letter, they're not supposed to give the entire image

of who you are, but they're supposed to be a taste, a trailer,

if you'd like, and what it's supposed to do,

it's to get you to the next part, which is the interview.

(Johanna Pålsson)

I like the trailer thinking, so it's just to try to present yourself

the best way possible.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Exactly, because of course all of us have weaknesses,

and when you're in the interview, you might

get the question and then you need to figure out,

well, how am I supposed to answer this one?

But in the CV and the cover letter, I think what's most important

that you should focus on your strengths.

These are the skills I have. This is who I have.

This is how I solve problems. This is what I have

in my educational background. And just focus on that

and leave the weakness parts and stuff to the interview

or when the question actually comes.

(Johanna Pålsson)

So what should not be included in this CV?

(Omid Rahmanian)

Well, you should kind of make it short, because if you're applying

for a job, you should keep in mind that many others

are doing so as well, and for someone who's reading

these applications, it can be a big job, and for you it's so important

that when you're writing these papers that you write them

for the reader. Don't write them to yourself. Write it for the reader.

Make it easy. Make it easy for me to see your skills.

Make it easy for me to see your background.

Make it easy for me to see... What I'm looking for,

I've described it in the ad. Make it easy for me to see that

you have what I'm looking for.

It's your job. It's not just about ranking up,

this is what I have, this is what I do,

I've been to these kind of jobs. It's also so important for you

to make it easy for the other person to, with a quick glance,

first of all, think, well, this is something nice to look at. Because

if it's full of text, people will throw that away.

(Johanna Pålsson)

So not too long, not too much heavy text.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Not too long, not too much text. Have some kind of design to it

and always have it in a perspective that you're not writing this

for yourself. You're writing about yourself, but you're writing this

for someone else.

(Johanna Pålsson)

I think that's quite important to have in mind. Someone else

should read it, so how do you present yourself with the words

you use?

(Omid Rahmanian)

Exactly, and the difficult part when I'm talking about design

is that because some jobs have so many applicants.

So let's say they have like about 200 applicants for a job, right?

And if everyone is writing two pages of CV, that's 400 papers

to go through and one page of cover letter. That's a total

of 600 pages for someone to go through, and so a lot of the time

they just look at the paper and if the design is, like, my eyes

are not enjoying what they're seeing, you might go to the bottom

of the pile.

(Johanna Pålsson)

So not too long. About two A4 pages, is that enough?

(Omid Rahmanian)

I kind of like to keep it at one A4 page.

But if you need to do it for two, that's about the limit.

Like, if you're going to three or four, then you really need to

look at your CV and see what you can exclude.

(Johanna Pålsson)

You mentioned to keep it relevant for the position itself.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Yeah.

(Johanna Pålsson)

But if you did not apply through an ad, you made a spontaneous

application, will the CV differ in any way?

(Omid Rahmanian)

I think the CV will not differ that much. What's important is that

when we're talking about keeping it relevant to the ad

is that you might have a long background, so you might

have had 10 jobs, right? So if you're putting all 10 jobs in

your paper, maybe it'll become three or four pages of CV.

But you need to look at the ad and see what of my 10 jobs are

the ones that I really want to show the employer?

And then what you can do is, like, because there is a full image of

you and you want the employer to be able to see that as well,

so you can put in your contact details the LinkedIn address you have,

so basically they can go to your LinkedIn page and get the entire

image of who you are, but in this CV you just gave them a short view,

like three jobs and two educational posts, this is it,

and I know that these jobs and these parts of my education are

extremely important because of the ad that I read.

(Johanna Pålsson)

All right, so a LinkedIn profile could also be used, just to have

like a master CV on the LinkedIn profile and to keep the CV

to the application, the job that you're applying for, a bit shorter.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Exactly, because a lot of people, when you tell them, like, you should

keep it short, you should just put in a couple of jobs,

they become nervous, like, but I've done this and I've done that.

Well, how can I...? I should include this part.

And of course I get that you're nervous about it,

I get that nervousness, but the thing is that just put

it in your LinkedIn profile. If they're interested

in your profile, they will click on your LinkedIn and just check out

exactly who you are.

(Johanna Pålsson)

Well, that sounds good. I remember when I started writing

my first CV, I had everything included.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Yeah.

(Johanna Pålsson)

Maybe that wasn't the best thought of myself.

(Omid Rahmanian)

But the thing is, like, how many pages was it?

(Johanna Pålsson)

I think it was two.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Well, that's OK.

I mean, if it's two pages, that's OK, and if you're young and you're,

like, doing your first CVs and stuff like that, I can understand

you want to include so much as you can to show that you're ready

to get a job, but if you've been in the market for a while, you've

worked for 10 years, then you might need to think a bit differently.

And you should always think about your application papers.

Both your CV and your cover letter, they are living documents,

so you're never properly finished with them. You always need

to work with them, even if you're unemployed or if you're employed.

You always need to work with your CV. Even I do that, like,

every three to six months.

I just check my CV, see, well, is it still relevant?

Is it something I should change? And so on and so forth.

(Johanna Pålsson)

So to write and to rewrite all the time?

(Omid Rahmanian)

Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I mean the most important thing is actually

to write and rewrite, because a lot of the times it's so difficult

to find the right words, and if you're just staring at a blank page

and trying to make the perfect paragraph in your head,

that'll be so difficult.

Sometimes it's just easier to write out everything

and then just to do the rewrite, and just do that over and over again

and you'll notice that if you check out your first CV

and then when you've written your, let's say, 20th CV,

it's going to be a whole different type of CV.

(Johanna Pålsson)

And better, I hope, at least.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Yeah, of course, because if people are not responding to it,

then you need to check out, like, is there something

I'm doing wrong? Am I lifting the wrong type of skills?

Like one thing I do in my CV to just high... I highlight

the relevant skills.

So what I do is, like, I have job descriptions, right?

So I write the job that I have and then I have a short description,

maybe just a paragraph, about what I did at that job, and what is

important is that I bolden the specific skills that I want the reader

to notice, like I have this skill that you're looking for in the ad,

and I know, like, leadership, I proved leadership, blah, blah, blah,

but the leadership one is boldened, so the employer instantly

sees all.

Or maybe you speak Spanish or Arabic or Russian or whatever,

but, like... and then they see instantly, oh, good,

they have that language skill set that we are looking for.

(Johanna Pålsson)

So a way to really catch the employers' eyes

is to highlight and to make the text in bold,

or maybe italics if necessary, just to see what's most important

and relevant from your CV.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Yeah, I mean do that.

I mean, you might need to have the text a bit more formal,

because it is a professional text.

And some people love to ask, well, how formal?

I would say it depends on what you're applying for.

So say if you're in law or you're working as a lawyer or

something like that, then it probably needs to be, like, very formal.

If it's a government job, it might be the same,

but, like, if you're looking for a job in the tech industry,

then it's a younger industry and they have a different type of

language, so maybe there you can be a bit more informal in

how you apply. So you need to also have a taste or a feeling

for the type of job that you're applying for and what they expect.

(Johanna Pålsson)

But all in all, Sweden is not very formal, so...

(Omid Rahmanian)

No, Sweden is not that formal, but there are some jobs

that have that formal way of thinking, mostly like in law,

finance, governmental jobs, things like that.

(Johanna Pålsson)

So to have in mind what field are you applying for

and how's the formality in that specific field?

(Omid Rahmanian)

Exactly, and, I mean, you should basically,

if you have experience in your field,

then the language should be...

you should know what type of language to use, but try...

always try to think that it needs to be nice to read,

like, if I'm reading it, it's nice.

It's not just words, but it's something that creates a

feeling for me, like oh, this is a professional person.

So if you can create a feeling in it as well, that is a bit extra,

but that bit of extra can make you...

(Johanna Pålsson)

Make it worthwhile.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Yeah.

(Johanna Pålsson)

And when writing a CV while you are in Sweden, we speak Swedish,

should it be in Swedish or English, or would you say that it matters?

(Omid Rahmanian)

I think you should check what language is the ad written in.

So if the ad is in English, then you should do your

application in English as well.

They can also write that you can do it in both Swedish and English,

but if it's in Swedish then you might want to try to do it in Swedish,

yeah.

(Johanna Pålsson)

And if it's not through an ad, it's spontaneous, what would you

say?

(Omid Rahmanian)

English. Because if that's your language and if you're not

speaking Swedish, you shouldn't apply in a language that you have

no experience in, or....

(Johanna Pålsson)

So as not to confuse the employer.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Yeah, exactly, like they're expecting someone who speaks

fluent Swedish and you come there and you're like, yeah, well,

I'm learning the language or something like that.

Be honest about that. They can actually help you.

(Johanna Pålsson)

Honesty is key here, I believe.

(Omid Rahmanian)

I think so. You want a good relationship with your future

employer, and to build that on honesty is something that is

definitely key here.

(Johanna Pålsson)

So to try to conclude the CV writing itself...

(Omid Rahmanian)

Yeah.

(Johanna Pålsson)

Not too long, maximum over two A4 pages if possible.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Yeah.

(Johanna Pålsson)

To include what's relevant for the position itself.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Yeah.

(Johanna Pålsson)

Maybe to have a look through the ad if you apply towards an ad.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Exactly.

(Johanna Pålsson)

A sufficient enough formality level, so not too formal, but depending

on the field itself.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Yeah, I mean, that sounds about right.

(Johanna Pålsson)

And to highlight the most important parts so it's easy to catch the

employer's and the reader's eye.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Exactly. Like, that's what I do.

I mean, if you have another method, go for it.

Just experiment, see what works.

See what... If you write it with this design and this method,

do you get more interviews, do you get more calls or less? Like, you

can always try to experiment and see what type of CV writing

works extra well.

(Johanna Pålsson)

I usually get the question regarding references in your CV.

What would you say about those?

(Omid Rahmanian)

I think, like, usually we don't write the references,

we say that we can give the references if we're called to an

interview, but, like, if you have an ace in the hole,

so you're looking for a field and then you have an ace in the hole,

and that is someone that is, let's say, a hotshot in that field,

everybody knows who this person is and this person is prepared

to vouch for you, then put that person's name on your CV,

because that might give you an extra edge. But basically

that's it, like, if you have an edge with someone who's prepared

to vouch for you, put that on, or else you don't need to at all.

(Johanna Pålsson)

All right. Anything else you'd like to add regarding how to write a CV

here in Sweden?

(Omid Rahmanian)

No, I think that's about it.

I mean, all I want to say is good luck and just don't give up.

I know it's a difficult process, but, I mean, it gets more fun

if you actually put in the time and just see it as a living document,

like something that is quite never finished until one day

when you leave the labour market for good.

(Johanna Pålsson)

Which is not now at least.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Yeah, hopefully.

(Johanna Pålsson)

All right. So have in mind to write the CV, take time to do it,

look through the ad and use the advice that Omid gave you.

(Omid Rahmanian)

That's a good thing to hear.

(Johanna Pålsson)

So thank you so much, Omid, for coming and telling

us about the CV writing.

(Omid Rahmanian)

Thank you, Johanna, for having me.

(Johanna Pålsson)

You've listened to the New In Sweden podcast, with me,

Johanna Pålsson, and Omid Rahmanian.

Sound engineer was Roger Svanell.

Be sure to listen to our next episode and have a good day.