As every professional knows, one of the most important parts to landing your dream job is getting your foot in the door. Once you have secured yourself an interview you can wow them with your amazing personality and skills. But first, you need to get into the room with the hiring manager and the only way to do that is to impress with your resume and cover letter. If you’re not entirely sure how to write your CV, you’ve come to the right place, below we run through some of the most important aspects you need to include and some solid advice on how best to include it all.
Writing your CV in English
Writing your resume and searching for a job in Germany can be hard – even without the added hassle of writing your CV in English. Even though it might be a little more difficult, the potential benefits far outweigh the effort required. The world is more connected now than ever before, and English is usually the language for business. A cover letter and CV written in English will show that you can master the English language at a professional level.
Proficiency in English is crucial since many international companies are now hiring in Germany they will be looking for people who can communicate in English. Not only that, many German companies are setting their sights on the international market as well, which means you’ll need to speak and write in English to compete. If you want to improve your chances of finding a job in Germany then an English CV will be your best option. If you would like to improve your English skills or have a better understanding of the English language, there are plenty of resources online that can help you learn.
It’s not enough to write your CV, send it in and hope it lands you the job. Many applicants will have a resume that qualifies them for the job, and if that’s all you submit you won’t stand out. You need to make sure you engage the recruiter with your story. Take the time to think about what makes you unique, or what makes you the perfect fit for the role. Once you know you need to show this story throughout your CV, in your:
- Executive summary
- Body (work experience and education)
Each section plays a different role in telling your story to the hiring manager. Your title and executive summary both act as a teaser for things to come, they are the introduction. Make your title obvious and recognisable, so a recruiter can read it and know what kind of applicant you are. Your body should include your most relevant work experience with examples (we go through work experience and education below). Make sure you don’t put everything in your CV, keep it succinct and keep your story consistent. With this in mind you can start to piece your CV together, first you should focus on the formatting.
An important thing to consider when deciding on how to format your resume is to keep it simple. Make sure you keep the style clean and easy to read. Your CV will probably contain a few different sections, make sure you put them in the correct order:
- Name & contact info
- Title / intro
- Work experience
- Hard skills
- Awards / interests
- References (if requested)
The more user friendly it is the easier it will be for hiring managers to find the important bits of information. Ensure you:
- Keep it simple
- Make your contact info easy to find
- Design your CV for functionality
A simple CV is one that is easy to follow and leaves a generous amount of white space on the page. A functional CV is designed to allow a recruiter to skim it and pick out vital bits of information. An important tidbit: just because you need to keep it simple, doesn’t mean it needs to be boring – try to find the balance between simple and creative. Here are some final tips on formatting:
- Save your CV as a PDF
- Ensure you use 12 point font
- Use either: Arial, Calibri or Helvetica font
- Keep your CV to two pages or less
This section is one of the most important parts of your CV. Your work experience will be a major determining factor in whether the recruiter or hiring manager is going to consider you for the interview. Your work experience needs to be formatted in a clear and simple way; and, so that it shows what you’ve done, your responsibilities and that you can solve problems. When organising your work experience make sure you:
- Have the most recent (or relevant) work experience at the top
- Keep your language simple (minimise industry jargon)
- Where possible show what you did with numbers
- Only use work experience relevant to the job
- Leave out any work experience older than 15 years
- Use keywords
Below is an example of how to write your work experience on your CV:
Business Development Manager (job role)
XYZ Corporation (company name)
September 2013 – present (duration)
- Prospect for new clients and turn into new business (responsibility)
- Closed X new accounts every month (result)
- Research and build relationships with new clients
- Work with internal technical staff to meet client needs
You don’t have to list every one of your responsibilities, just the most relevant ones. So when you are writing your CV, make sure your experience and responsibilities match up with the job requirements as much as possible. But don’t lie, because recruiters have many ways of finding out if you lie on your CV.
What if I have little or no work experience?
Don’t fret, there are plenty of things you can do if you don’t have a lot of work experience. If you don’t have any work experience, make your education the center-piece of your CV.
Depending on the type of industry you work in your education could be a make or break – especially in the STEM fields or for an accountant or lawyer, your application. Listing your education qualifications on your CV is an excellent idea, as it will the hiring manager that not only can you see something through to completion but you are also willing to learn. There are many things to when writing your education in your CV, but some of the most important things to think about are:
- List your highest level of education first
- If you have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, you don’t need to include your high school
- If you don’t have a degree, list your highest qualification
Below is an example of how you should write your education experience in your CV:
2003 (year of graduation) – Master of Electrical Engineering (degree)
XYZ University of Engineering (university), City Name (City where university was located)
Major (if relevant or interesting)
Hard skills, awards, interests
Make sure you split your skills up into relevant sections. If you speak multiple languages, group them together, if you have different technical skills, perhaps some involved with administration or web design, group them together. Make your CV as readable as possible.
Give your CV some extra personality by including your interests. Although, try to steer clear of any interests that might be controversial (think religion or politics). There’s nothing wrong with having interests in these areas, it’s just best to keep your CV as neutral as possible. Also, if you’ve won any awards – even if they’re specific to a previous job, you should include them.
You can leave this section entirely blank, almost every recruiter knows that anyone applying for a job will have references, and when they are ready to contact them, they will ask. If the job ad specifically asks for you to include a reference then you should include one. But only if your reference has agreed to be one.
Here are a some final things for you to consider when writing your CV.
- Proofread your resume, then read it again, edit it and double check for any mistakes you might have missed
- Do your best to be authentic, if you lie or pretend to be someone you’re not, the recruiter or hiring manager will probably pick up on this pretty quickly
- Don’t oversell yourself, nobody likes a try hard. Let your skills and experience speak for themselves, you don’t need to go in for the hard sell
We should also stress again that you keep your CV to two pages, use 12 point font and save it as a PDF – keep it simple and readable. Oh, and make sure you regularly update your CV and tailor your resume to each job vacancy for which you apply.