If you’re searching for a German-style CV in English that will increase your chances of nailing more job interviews in Germany, then you’ve come to the right place!
In this guide, you will find tips for creating a CV that follows the German format, as well as a German CV template in English that you can use on your next job application.
Before starting your hunt in the job market in Germany, you will need to prepare your resume and cover letter. Even though resumes may be an international concept, there are some differences between countries.
For example, in Europe, the most widely used term is CV instead of resume. The word for CV in Germany is Lebenslauf, which means ‘Life Run’.
A CV in Germany is used more as a place to state facts without fluff. According to a recent study done by Stepstone, 91% of HR recruiters name the CV as the most important document of an application.
Simple German Style CV Template in English
A CV is the first impression you will make. Like all first impressions, your CV only has a few seconds to impress hiring managers. The goal of your CV is to get you an invitation to a job interview.
“Remember, the person reviewing your CV may review 50+ others that day. Making it easy to quickly understand your information will make you stand out more than a quirky design or information overload.”by Jamie Rogers, Tech Recruiter in Germany working for Darwin Recruitment
We highly recommend investing some time in polishing your CV before applying for jobs in Germany. Here is an overview of the format German HR, recruiters, and hiring managers would expect in a CV:
We have created an in-depth e-book and CV template for you to create your killer CV and increase your chances of getting a job interview in Germany!
How to write a German CV (Lebenslauf) in English
The expectation of a German recruiter might be different than what you are used to. So translating your current resume might not be enough.
The German CV (Lebenslauf) is considered less of a marketing product and more of a factual document. You are encouraged to write real, hard facts and avoid all kinds of fluff or self-promoting sentences. HR departments in Germany prefer the KISS method: Keep It Short & Simple.
In Germany, a CV is between one and a maximum of two pages and has five or six sections. Let’s explore each one in more detail.
1. Personal Information
The minimum personal details you should include in this section are your name and your address. German recruiters expect to see a few more personal details about you, though. So if you don’t add all the personal information described below, be prepared to answer some similar questions during your interviews.
💡 Good to know: Just like in many other countries, it is illegal for companies to reject an application based on gender, age, race, or sexual orientation.
Most Germans include additional personal information in their CV. As an expat, it is important to understand how this extra information might help you in your application.
- Passport size photo: As per Jamie, a tech recruiter in Germany, “a profile picture should be professional but not too formal. Think happy, welcoming, and relaxed – not a formal suit and tie (unless you are searching for a job in law or finance).” Germans will judge your professionalism based on this picture, so make it count! There are some foreign names that Germans are not used to hearing, so providing a photo might help them know what pronoun to use for you.
- First and last name: Germans usually have only one first name and one last name. For those who have long names (I have two first and two last names), I would recommend using the first name you want to be called by and the last name. This reduces confusion on the employer’s side on what name to use. I had an Egyptian colleague who added all of her names to her application, and this led to confusion. The employer took her first two names and considered them to be a first and last name. This was a mess when they sent her the contract and set her email address.
- Address: Don’t forget to include your country!
- Phone number: Only add this if you have a German phone number. If your phone number is required, make sure to add it with the correct country code.
- Email address: Use a professional email address consisting of your name.
- Nationality: This could help the employer know if they will need to sponsor a work visa for you or not.
- Date of birth: Written DD/MM/YYYY.
- Short profile (optional): A summary of your skills and qualifications. Mention in two to three sentences why you are relevant for the job you are applying for.
Additionally, feel free to add professional social networks, such as LinkedIn or the German Xing. If you are a techy, you must include your GitHub!
2. Work Experience
Start with your most recent job and highlight relevant experience for the position you are applying. For each position, make sure to include the:
- Name of the company
- Title of your position
- Type of work you did: For example, part-time, full-time, internship, just for the project, etc.
- Dates you were employed: Include the month and year.
- Key responsibilities: We recommend listing your responsibilities as bullet points to make it easier for the reader to scan through your CV. Remember to stick to the facts.
- Translate achievements: Be sure to translate your responsibilities into factual achievements, e.g. increased sales by 20% or increased conversion by 15%.
Germans like to read ‘gapless’ curriculum vitae. So if you took a year off between your jobs to travel, you should mention this in your CV. Any gap above three months is worth mentioning in your CV.
Also, you are encouraged to mention any voluntary work you have done.
“Context is critical! That’s why ‘Work Experience’ is the most important part of a CV. It’s the part that we learn where and how you have applied the skills listed elsewhere in a CV.”by Jamie Rogers, Tech Recruiter in Germany in Darwin Recruitment
This section should have your education, including secondary and higher education. You should list your latest education degree first. Each degree should include:
- Name of your university or school
- Program that you studied
- Period you studied for: make sure to include the month and the year
- City and country you studied in
Use this section to list any other relevant qualifications or skills to the role. Some examples of what you can include are:
- Languages: Make sure to indicate the language and the proficiency level
- Computer skills: Mention any IT skill you have which is relevant to the position
- Relevant achievements or certificates
- Driver’s license (optional): Some jobs might require you to drive the company car to go to fairs or for other purposes. So make sure to include the driver’s license you have and for what type of vehicle.
Related Guide: German Driving License Explained
5. Hobbies And Interests (Optional)
In this optional section, you can feel free to include any hobbies or interests that might be relevant to the position. Remember, Germans love facts, so if you add this section, make it short and sweet.
Also, try to be specific about your interests. Travel is very generic, and almost everyone loves to do it.
6. Your Signature
Bonus points if you add this to your CV. Germans usually sign their CV with the date and their name.
Once you have created your CV, download it as a PDF and then digitally sign it by using a tool like Smallpdf.
German or English – In which language should you write your CV?
If you are applying for an English-speaking job, it is a good idea to write your CV in English. Since you are applying for a job in Germany, chances are a German person will look over your CV. If you are learning German, you can write your CV in English and indicate in the language section that you are currently learning the language.
If your German level is good enough, go for it! Just a word of caution, though: Germans, like any other sane person, dislike typos and grammatical errors. So you better have a native German proofread your CV. Also, make sure only to do this if your German is good enough to handle the interview in German as well. If you create your CV in German, you are already setting the expectations for your future employer that you have good German skills.
Regardless of the language you choose for your CV, make sure to follow the standards German hiring managers expect.
In this guide, you learned that a CV in Germany is a one to two-page factual document, and it is not used as a promotional tool. You can add your soft skills and other details of your experience in your cover letter.
Related Guide: German Cover Letter Guide with English Sample
German recruiters and employers expect to receive an application free of typos and grammatical mistakes. So only send your CV in German if you are truly confident with the language.
Grab our CV template and in-depth e-book to save you time and clear all potential doubts about what to include in your German-style CV.
Remember only to include information that is relevant to your role and the job requirements. Now, it is time for you to scout the job market in Germany and get your dream job.
Happy job hunting!