In case you plan to work in Germany a well-written German CV („Lebenslauf“) accompaning the German cover letter is the basis for a call-back for an job interview.
Adapt your CV to the Lebenslauf formatting
When looking for a job in Germany it is crucial to adapt to the German application system since otherwise your application might be thrown into the wastepaper basket. Therefore the expectations of the German employer should be met by transforming the original Curriculum Vitae into the German CV – „den Lebenslauf“. If you apply to the German rules the human ressources manager can scan the CV at one glance.
The German CV |Stick to the facts!
The German CV is unburdened. What counts are the hard facts, it is more or less a collection of data. Illustrate your professional qualities precisely and stick to the relevant facts only. Self-praising and overstatement is not welcomed among German HR managers. The German CV is one or maximum two pages in table format and it should be written according to the DIN 5008 norm. It is divided into the sections professional experience, education and training, voluntary work, languages and IT-skills. Hobbies and interests can be added, if space is left, and overall if they are relevant and fit the profile. Referees are commonly NOT mentioned, instead certificates (institute, university and work) could be enclosed/ attached as supplementary material.
Mind the gap…and add a photo!
Make sure that your CV does not contain great gaps, try to fill them with anything you did in that time (Training, Projects, etc.). A photo made by a professional photographer of you wearing smart office clothes is very recomendable to add since HR managers are used to see a photo on the Lebenslauf, although they cannot officially demand since that would not comply with German law. Close to the photo the personal information is placed. It contains contact details like names, surname, current address, email, mobile, your marital status, date of birth, place of birth and your nationality.
Professional Experience comes first
The professional experience is the one section which is most valued. For this reason it is usually positioned on top, starting with the most recent job e.g. in reverse chronological order. For every job not only a short description of the company is included but also a short list of the most important (relevant) tasks you have been in charge of. The URL of the company’s website could be added in order to allow user-friendly research.
Education and Training
In case you are a young professional and you consider the university degree you recently obtained as your most important qualification you can change order and start with the education section. Usually the final grade is mentioned in the German CV. You can name the most relevant modules, but again only if it matches the position you are applying for.
Languages and IT-Skills |Be honest
The language skills are highly valued. You should honestly self-reflect the quality of your skills and add your valuation to the German CV. It is possible that you will be tested in various languages in the job interview. If you speak German well enough feel free to author the „Lebenslauf“ in German. However, when applying for an english speaking job it is fair enough to apply with a CV written in English but adopted to the German formatting. Regarding the IT skills you are expected to name the computer programmes you are capable to work with.
Voluntary Work is valued since it shows evidence of your intrinsic motivation. Membership in clubs or team-captainship for instance show positive personal qualities and are worth mentioning.
Soft Skills | Hobbies and Interests
Hobbies and interests can be named if you consider them relevant. If you decide to draw a more complete picture of yourself it might be reasonable bringing them up. For instance if you like travelling or if you are are interested in politics and economy you could be perceived as a sophisticated person by the HR managers. Last but not least please double check your CV concerning spelling or grammar mistakes as the Germans perceive a CV with only one little fault as sloppy work and conclude to your working thoroughness. Good luck 😉 Find also Info about English speaking Jobs in Germany
Sample German CV
Find free Samples of CVs in German to download. You can choose between either the chronological, the functional or the combined German CV.
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