• Germany's news in English
 
Hundreds of great job opportunities for foreign professionals at Germany's top employers - in cooperation with Monster, Experteer, Stepstone, and CareerBuilder.
What
Where
3,131
jobs available
Find English-speaking professionals with The Local.
Advertise a vacancy
JobTalk Germany
'A CV will get thrown out if not in German style'
Photo: DPA

'A CV will get thrown out if not in German style'

Published: 31 Jan 2013 08:02 CET

Landing a job in Germany as a foreigner can be tough. But knowing what German employers expect from your CV could mean the crucial difference between getting an interview and getting dumped in the wastepaper basket.

The Local spoke to professional careers advisers to find out how job-seekers in Germany can turn a English-language curriculum vitae into a slimmed-down, factual German Lebenslauf.

When sending out an application in Germany it's important to get the layout of your CV correct. If your information is where German employers will be expecting it, your document will be much easier for them to process at a glance.

"It's really important to know what you're doing when writing your German CV. It will get thrown out if you don't do it in the style which Germans are used to," career adviser Heidi Störr told The Local.

Check out The Local's My German Career series for expat success stories

The first thing to note is that a Lebenslauf is one or two pages in a formal, fact sheet format, which looks and feels very different in style and content from a typical English CV.

“The Lebenslauf is a datasheet, a fact sheet,” Gerhard Winkler, contributor to Der Spiegel magazine's online careers section, told The Local. “The cover letter is a briefing – where you show how you're right for the job. Both texts are best when they are factual, sober list free of egotistical statements.”

German CVs are also set out in a two-columned table. You need to separate the table into six rows under the following headings written on the left column: 'Personal Details,' 'Professional Experience,' 'Education and Training,' 'Voluntary Work,' 'Scholarships' and 'Computer and Language Skills.'

Underneath each of these headings on the left go your exact dates - the time frames of activities, training or jobs which you will list in the right-hand column opposite. It's best to put activities in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent, according to career advisers.

The column on the right is where you enter your experiences. Underneath each job title or educational programme, describe your role in short, keyword sentences, concentrating on what you consider the most relevant details for the job you are applying for.

Click here for The Local's job listings

Germans tend to consider some information you might have on your English CV to be superfluous or even egotistical, said Winkler, so leave out any description of personal qualities, interests and hobbies, but do include membership of groups or organizations under 'Voluntary Work.'

There are a few must-have personal details every Lebenslauf should include which you might not have on your original CV: a photo, your marital status and place of birth. Also make sure you cover your language and computer skills in detail.

The photo question

Unlike most English resumes, German CVs always include a passport-style professional photo in the upper right-hand corner - a detail advisers say you would do well not to leave out.

"German employers are used to seeing a photo on a résumé, they can't explicitly demand in the job advert that you put one because that goes against privacy laws," Störr told The Local.

"But they'll be looking for it so always put one. A photo allows potential employers to make a different kind of personal connection with someone and will help them connect your skills with your face when you come to an interview."

Finally, since you will be applying for a job in a German workplace, you need to think carefully about which language to use on your CV. Advisers say if your German is up to it you would do well to show it off.

“If you can do it in German, make the effort, it doesn't have to be word-perfect,” said Störr.

But if those German lessons have not quite paid off yet, then avoid the temptation to get it translated and leave it in English. This will avoid any awkward moments if you get to an interview and an employer decides to test out your language skills.

“If an applicant has no or only a little German but has written their CV in German it would give the impression they had better language skills than they actually had, which could lead to problems,” said Störr.

“Personally, if English was my first language I'd write applications in Germany in English – unless I had to prove excellent German language skills for the job,” Winkler told The Local.

Generally, said Winkler it was important to remember his golden rule for CV writing: “Stick to the facts.”

Josie Le Blond

The Local (news@thelocal.de)


Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article:

The comments below have not been moderated in advance and are not produced by The Local unless clearly stated. Readers are responsible for the content of their own comments. Comments that breach our terms and conditions will be removed.

ADD YOUR COMMENT   (YOU MUST LOG IN OR REGISTER TO MAKE A COMMENT)
Your German Career
What do German bosses need to do to get more out of their staff? Frankfurt-based business consultant Justin Bariso has this advice.
Germany's Federal Employment Agency has identified the job sectors the country is most short of workers for. JobTalk looks at where the vacancies lie.
Students at German universities have shown themselves to be a risk-free lot in a survey by Ernst & Young. The civil service is their most popular choice of future profession, while job security is valued above all else.
Jenny Core, originally from Bolton, England, shares her tips in this week’s My German Career on being an artist in Berlin. The 27-year-old exhibits her work regularly in the city, including next to a Turner Prize shortlister.
In this week's JobTalk, Tanya Schober, who is originally from India, talks us through her journey to German citizenship.
In this week's My German Career, Anupama Gopalakrishna, who is originally from Bangalore in India, tells The Local about her new life in Frankfurt.
German Employment News
In our weekly feature series, The Local chats with a successful entrepreneur. This week, Sparsh Sharma talks to Simon Schneider, CEO and co-founder of networking tool Zyncd.
In our ongoing feature series, The Local looks into a successful entrepreneur's life - the story behind their successes, major challenges and how being an entrepreneur changed them forever. This week, Sparsh Sharma talks to Mario Paladini, founder of Club GLOBALS, a 'community marketplace' for expats.
In our new feature series, The Local looks into a successful entrepreneur's life - the story behind their successes, major challenges and how being an entrepreneur changed them forever. This week, we meet Berlin resident Marc C. Lange, co-founder and CEO of Crowdflow UG.
The Federal Administrative Court on Wednesday has ruled that the state of Hesse overstepped its bounds when legislating more allowances for firms to operate, and thus force employees to work, on Sundays and bank holidays.
UPDATE: The grand coalition's freshly minted law mandating that 30 percent of executive positions must be filled by women is being hit with harsh criticisms from the firms who have to comply to it.
In our new feature series, The Local looks into a successful entrepreneur's life - the story behind their successes, major challenges and how being an entrepreneur changed them forever. This week, Sparsh Sharma talks to Lawrence Leuschner, founder of second-hand marketplace reBuy.

Specialist (m/f) Marketing
Atotech seeks a native English speaker with professional experience in B2B marketing and social media for its global communication and market launch activities.
FULL JOB AD »

Journalist
In the decade since it was founded, The Local in Sweden has given people around the world an insight into one of Europe's most successful societies. We are now looking for a talented English-language journalist with an excellent command of Swedish to help us take the site to the next level
FULL JOB AD »

Berlin
Stepstone
Added 12/22/14

Essen
Stepstone
Added 12/22/14

Berlin
Stepstone
Added 12/22/14

NUREMBERG
Stepstone
Added 12/22/14

Oberkochen (Baden-Württemberg)
Stepstone
Added 12/22/14

NUREMBERG
Stepstone
Added 12/22/14

deutschlandweit
Stepstone
Added 12/22/14

Hamburg
Stepstone
Added 12/22/14

Hannover
Stepstone
Added 12/22/14