If you’re looking to write a German CV or translate your CV into German, it is essential that you know what German recruiters expect to receive when reading a job application and how to follow the traditional structure and style of a German CV.
Every country does CVs slightly differently, yet they all consist of the same content to a certain degree. However, it is crucial to keep in mind cultural preferences or professional standards, as well as other aspects such as German CV templates and layout.
Your CV is the first document that a prospective employer assesses and needs to be perfect in order to approve your passing onto the next level or round of interviews. It should fit the expected standards and also be written specifically for each job position.
Reading the basics of CV writing is a productive way of learning the best way to write a CV and can help you considerably before starting to write your CV in German. Those who already possess an English CV and wish to translate their CV into German should be wary that there are differences between the two types of CVs and a few factors that should be changed or altered.
Writing a German CV is not as complicated as it may seem. It’s true that there are a few aspects which may be different to the type of CV you are used to writing, but it’s merely a matter of learning the differences, viewing some German CV examples or even using a German CV template to aid the CV writing process.
You can also read more about German CV format and structure so that you can create a visually appealing CV which will capture recruiters’ attention.
How to write a German CV
There are still aspects of writing a CV in German which should be taken into account when writing a CV for any audience, culture or organisation.
This section covers how to write a German CV in terms of the design, structure and format, whereas the following sections cover each section of a German CV individually and break down what to include and how to write them.
The visual aspect of your CV is vital in terms of getting noticed but also, as a way of demonstrating your organisation and presentation.
Recruiters skim most CVs, so it is essential that they can be easily read, but that they are also presented in a way that means the reader is attracted and wants to carry on reading.
A German CV is usually one A4 page long, though in recent years this has changed with some CVs extending length to two A4 pages.
Another important design and German CV format tip is that jobseekers writing a German CV should keep font and font size as clear and simple as possible. Use a standard font size and refrain from using italic or bold fonts.
German CV structure is fairly important and should be followed fairly strictly, depending on the type of job for which you are applying.
The structure should consist of the following sections in the following order:
- Personal details
- Work history*
- Hobbies and interests
- Place, date and signature (this is uniquely German and a must if you want your German CV to qualify)
*Note that these two sections can be listed above one another depending on the priority and importance they have. Everyone has a different personal profile and learning how to write a German CV is similar to how you would write an English CV or a CV in another language: they are all different due to the personalities that write them. If you have recently graduated, you may deem it more appropriate to list your education section before the work experience section. However, if you have more work experience, you may wish to list it first.
In many places around the world, there are varieties of CV structures or layouts, whereas a traditional German company or recruiter will be expecting this specific structure.
It is not common to write a personal statement or CV objective that you would find on an English CV. This kind of information is expected on a cover letter, as opposed to your CV. However, you may wish to add a small section (a couple of sentences) to highlight a certain set of skills or qualities which you think are valuable or eye-catching.
Perhaps this aspect of writing a CV seems fairly simple. However, jobseekers should take the following points about German CV content into consideration:
- Spelling mistakes could affect the likelihood of passing onto the next stage of the job application. These kinds of mistakes are not taken lightly in German recruitment so be sure to reread your CV and write a checklist for spelling mistakes, grammar, CV format and other factors.
- The same CV content cannot be applied to all job applications. Candidates should think carefully about the different skills they possess which will fit the job description and should tailor each CV in a specific way that highlights the most valuable and interesting features linking to the job.
- Researching the company or organisation and the type of work can be extremely beneficial for the content of your German CV. Not only do you understand more about the type of work that the company does, but the vocabulary and language used on their company website or other platforms allow you to absorb a sense of personality and character which you can replicate in your German CV.
- More importantly, all German CV content should be as relevant as possible to the job.
It’s important to note that the difference between a German CV and an English CV is that a German Lebenslauf is considered to be more of a factual document. Usually, it is presented in two columns and it is almost always accompanied by a professional headshot in the top corner of the CV.
German CV layout and sections
For a further breakdown of how to write a German CV, read our summary of each section of a German CV with professional tips on how to write each part.
Your standard details should be written at the beginning of your German CV. Recruiters want to be able to identify you quickly and also be able to contact you without struggling to find a number or email.
It is better to refrain from including information that can be considered too personal for a CV, such as religion.
When writing a CV in German, many ask whether it is a good idea to include a photo on CVs. In general, photos are included in most professional CVs in Germany. That said, if you do not have a professional headshot or haven’t had time to take one, leaving it out will not jeopardise your job application. While they were a more compulsory element of CVs beforehand, nowadays there is a mixture of opinions on including photos on CVs.
Personal details to include on your German CV:
- Full name
- Phone/mobile number
- Email address
- Age/date of birth (this is not compulsory by law in Germany so if you feel uncomfortable specifying your age, don’t include it on your German CV)
- Marital status and number of children (although optional on a German CV, this type of information is also included on French CVs and could be considered too personal in other countries)
Tips for starting your German CV:
- Don’t title your CV with the word CV or Lebenslauf
- The photo you choose to include on your CV should be passport-sized and formatted in the top-right corner of the CV
- Choose to include a small section that describes your key skills or an experience which could be particularly valuable
Read the following tips for writing the work experience section of your German CV.
- List your work history in order of the most recent job first, to the least recent last
- Remember to include employment dates, as well as the location and your job title
- When writing employment dates, it’s not good enough to write the year you worked there. German recruiters will expect the month if not the start and end date, as well. Being shady and writing the year only makes it look as though you are trying to cover up or extend your work dates
- It is wise to state whether you were full-time or part-time, as well as elaborate on the job title. I.e., whether you were a manager, supervisor, intern etc.
- The location of the company or organisation where you work should be listed and if you have worked abroad, perhaps you should consider writing the country, as well
- Use bullet points to create short and snappy sentences which are informative and don’t send the recruiter off to sleep
- Once you have written the work experience section of your German CV, think about the order and the employment and try to poke a hole in any employment gaps
Tackling employment gaps on a CV
Firstly, everyone has had an employment gap or a transition period from one job to another at some point. Employment gaps on a CV are not uncommon, although it might be a good idea to explain why you might have been out of work for a year i.e., military service, studying, maternal/paternal leave.
A basic and standard section of any CV includes academic background. The difference with writing your education on a CV in a different language is that it might mean that your academic qualifications are less understood or valued due to different education systems worldwide.
This is why we recommend writing academic equivalents in brackets on your German CV. Although this might not be necessary for degrees, masters and PhDs which are understood internationally, an academic qualification you got at college or school may be completely different and also marked differently.
Like the work experience section, the education section on a German CV should be ordered in a reverse chronological order.
If you are writing an entry-level CV, it could be a good idea to elaborate on your studies or academic qualifications, as you may have studied an area of industry relevant to the job which not only helped you develop more industry-specific knowledge, but also gain skills which are required for the job.
Education system equivalent guide
GCSEs – Mittelstufenabschluss
A levels – Abitur
Degree – Abschluss/Diplom
Just like on any CV, your German CV should seek to capture recruiters’ attention by demonstrating skills you possess that could be used in the job.
You can list a variety of skills that you feel are valuable and paint the picture of the perfect candidate. Just make sure that you actually possess them!
Skills on a CV are simple to write, as they can be listed in a bullet point format, which also saves space on your German CV!
German CV examples
If you’re still feeling confused or you’re not sure how to visualise certain parts of your German CV, it’s recommendable to view German CV examples to help with the process of writing a German CV.
Another option for writing a German CV is using a CV creator, such as our OnlineCV maker which can be set in various languages thanks to the multi-language button, meaning that you can create a German CV easily!
Tips for writing the best German CV
- Try to encapsulate all of your personal and professional skills which are relevant to the job post in a way that makes you stand out as a candidate
- Ask someone German to read through your CV to double-check it
- Don’t literally translate your CV into German!
CV design and layout
Make sure your CV is well presented and has a capturing design. You can use German CV templates to create a CV without worrying about German CV format and you can also use the multi-language button on our OnlineCV builder to automatically change the language and headers/titles of the CV you are writing.