Hi Franco. Where I come from, an employer cannot ask about an interviewee's age or family situation, but including that information on your CV seems to be the norm in Denmark. And all Danes seem to include their photos on their CV? Doesn’t that contribute to discrimination?
You see a senior citizen crossing the the road slowly with a slight limp. He has a couple of spots on his worn out t-shirt. “Poor man” you think, as you imagine him homeless and very ill. But once again, you have been fooled by your perception. This “poor man” is actually limping because he fell on the road while jogging and then later spilled coffee on his t-shirt at an upscale cafe on the way back home. Moreover he cannot be considered “poor” at all, as he has two Ferraris resting quietly in the garage.
We’ll come back to this “poor man” later, but I’m actually here to talk to you about your CV.
While in the US and many other countries, you would never dream of sending a CV with your picture and other personal information on it, it is the norm in Denmark. Danish law protects you against any kind of discrimination. While it might feel unnatural for some foreigners seeking work in Denmark, there is no reason not to include personal details like age and family situation on your CV.
Women particularly are often uncomfortable disclosing their age and marital status, imagining that a potential employer will use that information to determine the likelihood of future children – and a future lengthy maternity leave. However, having children in Denmark is considered good by society and it is the norm for working women to have a family. Companies are normally structured to deal effectively with their employees have children, often hiring replacements when workers (both male and female) take parental leave.
This is an example of how to include personal information on your CV, as recommended by my company NemCV (you might recognize this particular job-seeker as the co-founder of a little company called Google):
And here is our guide to the kind of information you can safely include in your CV in Denmark:
Speaking of photos (and quoting Roy Batty in Blade Runner), "I have seen… things you people wouldn't believe…”. Really!! In my experience at NemCV, I’ve seen all sorts of poor photo choices, including pictures with totally wrong focus/exposure/colours, mops in the background, axed arms and legs, disco-backgrounds, very sad expressions, sexy smiles, way too much cleavage, and more. Please don’t do that! Do yourself and your prospective employer a favour by spending 200-500 kroner to get a decent, professional headshot.
Remember that your picture is the very first impression you have on people who don’t know you. A bad picture shows that you don’t care about your CV and thus probably wouldn’t care about the tasks assigned to you. The company will think that you will prioritize tasks according to your own agenda, not theirs.
A bad photo can damage your impression in many ways, even generating a perception as inaccurate as our “poor man” described in the first paragraph. Don’t allow yourself to be dismissed out of hand. Get a good photo in which you are dressed like you would be in your first interview. Also, having a professional take your portrait helps you choose the right facial expression for the picture. A professional photographer can suggest the right kind of smile and position that enhances your positive vibes.
If you think I am exaggerating here, just take a look at your friends’s photos in your Facebook feed. What do you see? How does the quality of a picture affect your understanding of what it represents? Why do you ‘like’ some pictures and not the others? We live in a visual society, where many people believe that “what-you-see-is-(almost)-what-you-get”. Ignoring this fact can cause a premature trashing of your CV. And with a good picture, nobody will look at you and think “poor girl/guy” – even if there are no Ferraris parked in your garage!
What do YOU want to know about finding a job in Denmark? Send us your questions and NemCV's Franco Soldera will provide the answers.
Franco Soldera is the co-founder of NemCV, together with Zubair Quraishi. Since 2011 they have focused on creating the right web application that allows a superior match between companies and candidates, overcoming the common misunderstandings that affect the hiring process. They have helped more than 1,000 foreigners in Denmark get their first job interviews.
Franco is an IT consultant with more than 15 years experience and has a past as musician. He got his first job in Denmark in 2003 and moved from Italy to settle in Copenhagen. You can follow him on Twitter at @fsoldera.