Ultimate Guide to a perfect German CV, plus a free template!

The resume or CV (Lebenslauf in German) is like your business card and recruiters decide within 7-12 seconds whether you are a good match or not. But don’t worry, this post will help you to increase your chances of getting hired.

(At the end of the article is a downloadable CV in German.)

Step 1 – Design

Firstly, use an 11-12 font size and secondly keep it simple. Avoid playing around with italics and different fonts and sizes. As mentioned earlier, the HR person only has a few seconds to decide, so it needs to be clear and simple. The German CV also tends to be longer than for example the one-page British CV. If you have enough experience than your German CV can be 3 pages long.

To have an unfair advantage use software to create your CV. This will also make it easier for you to stay organized.

Step 2 – Structure

The stucture of the a CV in German is as follows:

  • personal details
  • work experience
  • education
  • skills
  • Interests and hobbies

This structure is not much different to CVs from other countries. However, what is important is that writing a CV in German is more like writing a fact sheet rather then a sales pitch.

Step 3 – Content

Make sure that the content is relevant for the position. For example, you don’t need to write much detail about your job as a waiter unless you are applying for a position as a restaurant manager. The employer is looking for skills, expertise, and experience in a given field. Just think about who you would want to hire if you would be in his/her shoes.

Step 4 – Personal Details (Persönliche Daten)

This section is either at the top of the page or on the first page on the side. What to include? Here is the list of all the information that you should include in your personal details section.

Name and surname: put your full name in a slightly bigger font size and make it bold.

Phone and email: make sure you include the right country code to the beginning of your phone number if you did not purchase your sim card in Germany.

Address: place of residency.

Age and birthdate: put your age as well as your date of birth so that the recruiter doesn’t have to do the calculation.

Citizenship: this is important for your recruiter to know if you are in need of a work permit or visa.

Marital status: optional but recommended, as it gives a better picture about the candidate.

Passport-size photo: this needs to be in every German CV.

Step 5 – Work experience (Berufserfahrung)

This is probably the most important section. Use a reverse chronological order and start with your most recent job. Make sure to include the start and finish date (eg. 03/2018 – 09/2020). Also add the city and country, which is the company location.

The name of the position goes to the top of each job position that you had. Examples: “Junior UX developer” or “Head of Marketing”.

And finally, mention your responsibilities with bullet points below the name of the position. 3-7 bullet points are recommended.

Step 6 – Education (Bildung)

As before, list your education in reverse chronological order, start with the most recent. Include university and school names, as well as the dates. Use the bullet points to write about your achievements such as acquired titles and grades.

Make sure that you know how your grading translates into German.

Step 7 – Languages (Sprachen)

Here you can show off your language skills. However, make sure to be realistic. To be more precise, use a format like: “German – B2”, “English – C2” or “Arabic – B1”.

Languages become increasingly more important in recent years. If you are moving to Germany or applying for jobs at German companies make sure to learn the German language.

Step 8 – Skills (Kenntnisse)

Add relevant training for the position such as software skills (eg. MS Excel – advanced knowledge of macros and pivot tables) or additional certificates (eg. Certificate in Project Management)

Step 9 – Hand in your documents correctly

This is important! When you save the document, make sure that you do it in the right format such as PDF files, or upload them correctly.

To get feedback and to train your interview skills we offer you 1:1 consulting. Click here to schedule a free trial lesson or email us at tom@expertlygerman.com

Should I write my CV in Engish or in German?

If your German is good enough then yes, write your CV in German. Even if the company profile is in English, it is of great advantage to show that you speak the German language. If your German is not good enough yet, then it is not good to give a false impression about your language ability.

Additional Tipps

  • Keep it fact-based: Writing to much fluff does not work well in Germany.
  • Keep it relevant: Mentioning all of the work experience that you have might not be an advantage. Only list what is relevant for the position.
  • Adjust your CV for every application to make it more relevant.
  • Make sure you don’t have any typos or misspellings. Let someone else read over it.

To get feedback and to train your interview skills we offer you 1:1 consulting. Click here to schedule a free trial lesson or email us at tom@expertlygerman.com

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