Your career stages, your education, your experiences – all this is summarized in your curriculum vitae (CV). It is the main document of your application papers and it gives the employer an overview of your personal details, your academic and professional background, your academic qualifications up to the present day and any special skills or interest you have.
Your life at a glance!
What constitutes a good curriculum vitae? It contains all the relevant information that is important for the decision-making of the employer. The details on your curriculum vitae can determine whether or not you will be invited to a job interview. This is why you should keep some rules in mind when you create your CV in Germany.
You can include a cover page, but it is not necessary. Depending on the job position or your own feeling, you can decide if you want to use a cover page or not. On it you can include details like an application photo, your name and address or the reference.
You want to do without a cover page? Then start your curriculum vitae with the title Lebenslauf (Curriculum Vitae) and your personal details. You can either enumerate these or work with labels (Name: …, Adresse: …). The application photo usually goes on the upper right-hand corner next to the personal details. It is not mandatory to indicate your marital status, religious beliefs or nationality.
Your professional background and experiences are the most important part of your curriculum. Therefore, it is necessary to include the following information:
- School/s attended (Period of time, name of the school, place, leaving-certificate; premature leaving certificates do not have to be mentioned)
- Vocational training/s (Period of time, exact professional title, company (without the legal form, if need be with sector), place, qualification (e. g. journeyman’s certificate, Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) leaving certificate))
- Studies (Period of time, university or college, place, degree, final grades; the thesis’ topic, main focus areas and minor fields of study are optional)
- Job/s (Period of time, company (if need be with sector), working place, working title (either with the exact professional title (e. g. motor mechanic), the name of the professional field (e. g. construction worker in civil engineering) or the job description (e. g. trainer)))
- Special knowledge and skills, further professional training or special knowledge acquired
Tip: Work fields and tasks of previous jobs that may have a direct connection to the job position being pursued should always be indicated. Any information that is not relevant for the new job should be omitted!
Hobbies are not a must in a curriculum vitae. However, you can mention them if they play an important role in your life. This is all the more appropriate if you can trace back a characteristic or skill relevant for the job to your hobbies. You should only mention the activities that you pursue actively – watching football does not count. Only hobbies that are accident-prone (e. g. riding, football) might pose a problem.
Every curriculum vitae ends with an indication of place and date and a signature, which match the details on the cover letter. This way you ensure that all the information corresponds to the truth.
Checklist for the CV
- Is your CV clearly structured and does it have an inviting appearance?
- Is it logically structured and easy to read?
- Can you answer questions regarding any gaps in your academic and professional career?
- Does the CV indicate a change in your career path? Is it presented in a comprehensive way?
- Does the CV include information that proves or at least shows your eligibility for the position being pursued?
- Does it indicate other activities besides your academic or professional background? (Associations, hobbies, sport activities)
- Is there a clear differentiation between theory and practice?
- Are important jobs being highlighted?
- Were non-working and non-studying periods of time put to a reasonable and target-oriented use? (e. g. household activities, advanced training courses)
- Does the information on the CV coincide with the rest of the application documents?
- Did you enclose documents that prove the specified jobs/trainings?
- Did you let someone look over your CV and does what you want to convey make the same impression on him/her as on you?
- Did you sign your CV and indicate the current date?
Please smile: the job application photo
A smile says more than a thousand words: in Germany, a photo of the applicant always belongs to the application documents. The picture should be recent and if possible taken by a professional photographer.
Checklist for the job application photo
- Use a recent application photo. They should be able to recognize you when you go to the personal interview!
- Do not use a photo from an automatic photo booth or a classical passport photo. Do not attempt to save money by cutting corners!
- The picture´s dimensions should be 40 x 60 or 50 x 70 mm. Bigger pictures often come across as being presumptuous.
- Return any bad application photos, do not buy them.
- As may be the case, pay a visit to the hairdresser’s before you get your picture taken. By all means, you should make sure that your hair looks all right in the photo.
- Let the photographer show you some examples of job application photos and choose the one that appeals to you the most.
- Be mindful of your clothes. They should be suitable for the pursued position (whether it is a suit, a coat and skirt, a tie, a clip earring or other type of jewellery).