The good résumé: Target your résumé to the job

Marianne Bom & Rie Jerichow, Publicér

A good résumé is targeted to the job you apply for, says career counsellor Kristi Johvik from Karrierecenteret at DTU.

While the job application is about what the company could gain from hiring the applicant in the future, the résumé looks into the past. The résumé tells the company, what you have in your baggage, so you can solve the tasks in the job. Therefore, the résumé has to be targeted to exactly the position you apply for, says career counsellor Kristi Johvik from Karrierecenteret at DTU. “A good résumé starts with a short and targeted profile text. The profile text is a kind of sales pitch, where you capture the company’s interest by showing the match between you and their needs. Use keywords from the job listing, when you highlight competences and experiences that you match,” she says.

Remember to mention the contents of your study

The purpose of the résumé is generally to make your competences and your experiences visible in relation to the task in the job. You can especially do this in the sections about your education and work experience. “The students often leave out what they have done during their studies and what results they have achieved, for instance from the many interesting projects they have done during their studies. It could be prototypes, apps, analyses, but the result can also be a personal skill that has developed or strengthened,” says Kristi Johvik. If you do not write that in your résumé, the company cannot see the match between you and the profile they are looking for, and you risk that your application will not be read.

Maximum two pages

“You can definitely write examples of study projects on your résumé and still keep the résumé to maximum two pages. The trick is to write short sentences in bullets, where you list your core tasks or actions and results by answering two questions: what did I do? For instance: “I researched”, “analyzed”, “calculated”. And what were the results of this? For instance: “I developed competences in”, or “the project resulted in a prototype being built”,” says Kristi Johvik.

Concrete suggestions for a better résumé

Career counsellor Kristi Johvik, Karrierecenteret at DTU, has read a résumé from an engineering student and will give concrete suggestions for improvements here.

  1. It is good with a short introduction, but you could benefit from highlighting your competences and experiences from the study, as well as your personal strengths that match what the company is searching for. Instead of writing your age here, write your date of birth in the top of the résumé. You can refrain from mentioning your language skills in the language section.
  2. Move the section on education here, since it is your current education, and competences and experiences come from there, which is what you sell yourself on when you apply for a job in an engineering company.
  3. Build a structure with years, position, company name, place, where you show the timeline in a separate column to the left. It provides a better overview.
  4. Also use the structure here: years, educations, name of university, place. You should not repeat when you expect to finish the education. You should write what you worked with and what you already have experiences and competences in for every highlighted part of the education. Present a couple of projects from the study by answering two questions: what did you do? What did it result in? It would be great if you can give examples that are related to the requirements or tasks in the job you apply for.
  5. Usually we recommend to onlywrite bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degree on your résumé. But in your case, high school education is interesting, because you studied abroad. So keep that, and consider how you can highlight the competences you gained abroad.
  6. Move this text to the education section under your bachelor’s degree, and shorten it by presenting your actions and results of them with verbs.
  7. Write two different sections about your technical competences and your language skills. We recommend that you demonstrate personal competences in the sections on experiences, so you show how you concretely developed these. It strengthens the credibility when your competences are connected to concrete experiences.
  8. Volunteer work is worth just as much as regular work, so write it in the section with work experiences.
  9. Write a couple of references with name, position, company, and phone number. Or write that they can be sent by request.

The finished and good résumé

The engineering student has now improved his résumé after input from career counsellor Kristi Johvik from Karrierecenteret at DTU. Here are Kristi Johvik’s comments on the new version.

The résumé is now clearly targeted at the concrete job. It has become easy and quick for the employer to see which experiences and competences the applicant brings.

  1. The profile text is more targeted to the profile that COWI is looking for with a focus on relevant experiences and competences.
  2. The applicant has switched the sections on work experience and education. Now education is first, so the company can quickly see the relevant experience that he has achieved with his education so far. Both this section and the section on work experience have become easier to read and give a quick overview, thanks to the use of the same structure with both years in a separate menu to the left and clear headlines.
  3. The thesis that took up too much space before is shorter and more clear in relation to tasks and results.
  4. The applicant has, under every work experience, answered two questions: what did I do, and what was the result of it (what competences did I develop)? It provides a structure to the whole section that makes it easier to read; and more importantly, the applicant’s experiences and competences are visible to the reader. The company can now see how the applicant has developed the personal competences that were without examples in a separate section with the technical competences before.
  5. There is now a separate section on language skills. They were previously mentioned in the profile text.
  6. The applicant’s age is no longer listed in the profile text.