Ideal German CV format
If you’re applying for a job in Germany, you need to prepare a proper resume or CV (in German: Lebenslauf). Your German CV needs to be prepared according to the German standards: contain all the information and be designed and structured the way German recruiters expect. Keeping to the German CV format is crucial indeed.
There are some important things you should pay attention to and shouldn’t miss in your resume for potential German employers, and in this article we are going to tell you about them. Make sure to read it if you’d like to learn some tips on the German CV format in English.
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Here are the most important things in terms of what your German resume must look like and what information it needs to contain.
Watch our video about the German CV format:
1. Your German CV needs to have a clear and well-defined structure and an attractive design.
A lot of recruiters spend around 10 seconds looking the resume over to decide if it is worth their time. Your German resume (German Lebenslauf) should be designed in a way that it’s pleasant to look at, shows your professional attitude and all necessary information can be easily found.
Here are some useful tips on preparing your German-style CV:
Use the same font for your whole resume and don’t go overboard with capitalization, bolding etc.
Use tabular form — this is the gold standard of a German resume.
Proof-read your resume before sending. Better if you do it several times and/or have somebody else do it for you. This way you can avoid sending a resume with unnecessary typing errors and other possible mistakes.
Make sure to include all the sections typical for the professional German resume format: personal details, work experience, education, skills. It may also contain such sections as personal profile or career summary, interests and hobbies, references and others.
Your German CV should not be longer that 2 A4 pages.
Save your resume in the PDF-format before sending, so that all your formatting stays the same on all devices.
Add your hand-written and scanned signature at the end of the resume.
2. Your personal information should be full and provide all necessary details.
Here are some tips on the German resume format:
It is highly recommended to add a photo into your German CV (German Lebenslauf). Many recruiters don’t even consider candidates without photos. But please make sure that you add a photo of a good quality, where your face is clearly seen. You should be dressed appropriately, and the photo should only have you in it.
Please don’t crop yourself out of a picture with your friends at a party, leaving someone else’s shoulders or hands in the frame. Find time to take a nice picture of yourself where you look professional and friendly since it is an important part of a German-style CV.
Provide your contact details in your German resume and make sure you are reachable at those contacts. If you have a German contact number, that’s great since it can increase the chances of the potential employer contacting you by phone. If not, make sure to indicate the phone code of your current country, for example: +44 and your phone number.
Your email address should be serious and professional. Having such an email as teletubby....@gmail.com in your German CV might give the recruiter the wrong impression, and you hardly want that.
Nationality and your current address might seem optional but can be an important factor for the employer so that they can understand if you need a work visa etc.
3. Your German resume should be individually adapted to each position you’re applying for.
Tips for your resume in the German CV format:
So, don’t send the same resume to all potential employers. One and the same resume won’t meet all of their expectations.
Study the information about the company: what their activity, goals and needs are. Then make some adjustments to your German CV to show why you would be the perfect candidate for them.
Include only relevant work experience. For example, if you are applying for a position of a software developer, your previous work experience distributing flyers at a gas station at 16 would probably be irrelevant, so you should skip that. One more thing common for the German CV format: the relevant work experience should be placed in reverse chronological order, putting the most recent one at the top.
Same goes for your education, especially when it comes to additional courses etc. Sure, you need to indicate your university and school education (also in reverse chronological order). However, if you completed a cooking course sometime in your life, it would probably be irrelevant for the resume, unless you’re applying for the position of a cook.
Think what positive results you brought at your previous work and how the companies benefitted from working with you. If you have any statistics, it makes sense to include them into your German resume to show your potential employer why it would be a good idea to hire you.
4. Don’t indicate fake skills or knowledge in your German resume.
It will all be discovered during the interview or later checks. And if the recruiter catches one lie, they would have huge doubts about the rest of the information in your resume as well.
Here is what you can do:
If, for example, you have just started learning German, don’t exaggerate your knowledge. Write the truth and explain that you are in the process of learning the language. If speaking German isn’t one of the absolute requirements for the position, it might be your advantage that you are at least learning it and could give you some points in the eyes of the German employer.
If you don’t have some of the skills required for the desirable position, think about studying the matter and acquiring those skills. This would be a much better idea than lying.
5. Write a convincing cover letter to go along with your German CV.
Although it might not be requested in the vacancy, it is a very important thing in Germany. Some recruiters take a look at the cover letter before checking your German resume. So it would be to your advantage if you get the recruiter interested.
Don’t make it too long, the cover letter shouldn’t be longer than 1 A4 page.
Make sure to address the correct contact person if you know their name.
Put aside subjunctive mood and use active forms when explaining why you are the perfect candidate for the position.
Show that you know what the company does and when you are ready to start working.
6. Don’t forget the attachments.
If there are documents that are relevant for your application, such as education certificates etc., don’t forget to attach them when sending your German CV (German Lebenslauf).
We have a detailed instruction about document preparation. The rules listed there are also applicable in this case.
Now you have an idea about the German CV format and what you should pay attention to.
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This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is intended for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Each situation is unique and professional advice should always be obtained before taking or refraining from any action.