Why do Danes put a photo on their CV?

In many countries, you would never dream of sending a CV that includes your photo and other personal information but in Denmark it is the norm. NemCV's Franco Soldera explains why and gives advice for how to include the appropriate CV photo.

Why do Danes put a photo on their CV?
Including a photo and personal information like your date of birth is the norm in Denmark. Photo: Colourbox
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):
CV example
And here is our guide to the kind of information you can safely include in your CV in Denmark:
Personal information on a Danish CV
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 of NemCVFranco 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.

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‘We wanted to make chocolate to reflect Denmark’s seasons’

Stuart Eve moved to Denmark with his family after his wife, an archaeologist, was offered a job at Aarhus University. Nearly four years later, he is the co-founder of a fair trade chocolate business in the Scandinavian city.

'We wanted to make chocolate to reflect Denmark's seasons'
A chance meeting at their children's daycare resulted in the Ørbæk and Eve families starting their Danish business. Photo: Stuart Eve

Eve still works full time at his day job, also in archaeology. But the sweet-toothed entrepreneur told The Local that Denmark provided him with inspiration to try something out of his comfort zone – starting his own business in a foreign country.

After meeting business partner Anders Ørbæk at the daycare centre attended by their children, the two began the project, initially producing the chocolate out of their own kitchens.

“That has now moved to the renting of a professional space, so that we can scale up production and also get all the relevant food hygiene certificates and so on,” Eve said.

The archaeologist said having Danish partners had been beneficial in the course of setting up a business in the Scandinavian country, even though the process itself was straightforward.

“Actually starting the business was a matter of filling in a few forms online and showing we had 100 kroner [13 euros] in the bank. However, I think without our Danish partners, it would have been quite hard – mainly because of the technical Danish required. My Danish is pretty awful – and there are a lot of financial terms that are difficult to translate,” Eve said.

READ ALSO: Danish: Is it really so hard to learn?

“So I think for us it was essential to have Danish partners. Also, the food hygiene rules and health and safety, while similar to the UK, are quite onerous – and again very technical.

“I run my own archaeology business in the UK, so that has set me in great stead for the financial and business side,” he added.

The startup currently sources some of its supplies from Eve’s native UK – one aspect that may be complicated by Brexit, he said.

“My secret dream is that the chocolate business will enable us to beat Brexit and stay in Denmark for a lot longer — but we'll have to see how it pans out,” he said.


Packaged up and ready to go #somerferie #chokolade #beantobar #chocolate

A post shared by Ørbæk & Eve (@oerbaekandeve) on Jul 3, 2017 at 2:40pm PDT

It was not just the administrative side that Eve had to learn on the hoof for his Danish-based business, though – the process of producing the chocolate itself is also new.

“I was eating some Ritter Sport one evening and wondered to myself how chocolate was made, thinking it must be some incredibly complicated industrial process. So I checked out a few YouTube videos and it turns out you can make chocolate in a coffee grinder – it tastes awful because it is so crunchy, but it shows the process. From there it was a matter of buying a bigger grinder and starting to experiment. We have so much to learn still, but people seem to like what we are producing so far,” he said.

The chocolate produced by the startup – which is both fairtrade and organic – is heavily influenced by Denmark’s nature and seasonal variations, including a quarterly subscription service which can be signed up for via a crowdfunding campaign.

“We have been trying to find a way to really represent the beauty and abundance of the Danish countryside and combine it with something that Danes really love – chocolate,” he said.

“Strawberries from Samsø for summer, hazelnuts foraged from the woods for autumn, etc. Between us we have six kids so the family always come in and help during the production days,” he added.

A longer term aim is to consolidate the new company – named Ørbæk & Eve after its co-founders – as a well-known ‘bean to bar’ company in Aarhus.

“Our main reasons for doing this are two-fold. First, we eat a lot of chocolate and have become increasingly concerned by the human and environmental costs of industrialised chocolate production – there are new reports about destruction of rainforest for cocoa plantations and slave labour in West Africa, for example. In order to not be complicit with this, I wanted to figure out how it was made – and to do it myself.

“Second, we have really noticed the differences in the seasons since we moved to Denmark, so we wanted to make chocolate that reflected and celebrated the different qualities of the changing seasons,” he said.

Eve, Ørbæk and their partners are currently spending evenings and weekends on the chocolate production runs.

“As things pick up, I suspect I will move to one dedicated day a week, but we have four of us working on it, so we can usually juggle the time,” he said.

READ MORE: The Local's 'My Danish Career' series