An up-to-date curriculum vitae (CV) is usually required for an application. This gives the company an initial impression of the applicant. To ensure that this impression is as positive as possible, you should invest time and effort into your application documents. It should be apparent that you have studied the company and the job advertisement in depth. Consequently, it is better to focus on a few good applications rather than sending out the same CV in bulk.
If the company has communicated specific requirements regarding the content or structure, for example, you should definitely follow them. If this is not the case, we have compiled the most important information on the content and structure of a good CV below.
- You do not have to fulfil all the requirements of a job advertisement in order to apply. However, it is important that all information in your application documents is truthful - lies are an absolute no-go and can even be grounds for dismissal in the worst case.
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Your personal data must not be missing on your CV. This includes your first and last names, address, telephone number and email address. Usually, the date and place of birth are also listed. You can provide information on your nationality and marital status, but you do not have to. Information about your religion, parents and siblings is irrelevant.
- You can also list your academic title - whether this is advantageous depends on the position you are applying for and the industry.
- You should avoid superfluous information such as "CV", "Name:" or "Phone:". Instead, highlight relevant information such as your name itself.
- The country must only be indicated in the address if you live abroad or are applying abroad. Otherwise you can omit it.
In many countries, a photo on the CV is not compulsory, but it does have some advantages. Not only does it make the application look more personal, the photo also helps to recognize you at the interview and in the recruiter's follow-up. If you decide to include a photo, make sure it is current and relevant to the job you are applying for. If you are applying to a bank, for example, you should look serious and professional in your photo. If, on the other hand, you are applying to a young start-up, it is usually sufficient if you appear casual and smart. If, after briefly researching the company, you are still unsure of what is expected, err on the side of appearing overdressed. To save yourself stress when looking for a good photo, don't wait until the last minute to look for a suitable picture, but take care of it early on. This will give you enough time to make an appointment with the photographer if necessary.
When outlining your education and career, the activities are arranged chronologically, with the most recent first. Furthermore, you should always consider to whom the CV is addressed and which sections are most relevant to this person. You should therefore elaborate a little more on sections that are relevant to the new job and be brief about less relevant sections or even refrain from elaborating on them. In the heading of each section, in addition to the time period and location, you should list the company and job title. Underneath, list what you did during the job, which department you belonged to and which responsibilities you took on. If you wish, you can also list the soft skills acquired or the projects you accomplished.
- If there are any gaps in your CV, you should, if possible, indicate what you did during this time (e.g. voluntary work, language study, further education, sabbatical). Furthermore, you should refrain from using the term "unemployed" and instead prefer to use "without employment".
After your education and professional career, you should list subject-specific knowledge. This includes, for example, any programmes that are stipulated in the job advertisement. If you have experience with these, be sure to list them.
After subject-specific knowledge, language skills are usually listed next. Don’t forget to include your proficiency level for each language listed. If you have passed official language examinations, list them as a reference and enclose the certificates with your application documents.
Next follows a section on your leisure activities. This section should not be underestimated: It adds a personal touch to your CV and allows recruiters to get to know you better. The content of this section could include your hobbies, interests or voluntary work. If you list any volunteering work, you should also briefly describe your corresponding role and activity.
Depending on the field, it may be customary to list additional categories, such as publications or memberships. However, you should always make sure to focus on the content and not go overboard it with the number of sections, otherwise the reader might lose track.
Your CV should be visually appealing and the most important things should be visible at first glance. A timeline, for example, is a good way to create a well-structured overview. If you use a template, make sure to give it a personal touch. The design should also be appropriate for the company you are applying to. For example, if you are applying to a more conservative company, keep your application simple and not overly colourful; if you are applying to a marketing agency or a young start-up, however, you can be a bit more creative.
- If you list your contact details in the header or footer, you do not need to mention them again under "Personal details".
- If your CV is very extensive, it may be worth considering including a title page with your personal details.
If the company asks for several documents, make sure that you have them all together and that all documents have a consistent layout. The font should be legible (e.g. Arial, Helvetica or Verdana). If you are enclosing references, certificates or similar documents with your application, make sure that any scanned documents are of good quality.
Of course, you should review all your documents carefully to avoid any clerical errors. Don't forget to check the contact details, dates and details such as headers and footers. It is also best to have someone in your family or circle of friends proofread your documents.
Be sure to check your documents for accidential formatting errors before sending them. Unless requested otherwise by the company, always send your documents as PDF files.
If you submit your application by e-mail, make sure that the attachments are not too large to prevent your e-mail from ending up in spam (max. 5 MB, depending on the provider). To be sure that your application has been received, you can ask the addressee for a confirmation. If you convert images into another format, make sure that the quality remains good. If you submit your application online, there are some particularities you should be aware of. You can find more detailed information.
Have you sent your application but not yet heard back from the company? After two weeks, you can enquire about how your application is doing. Show interest and be cooperative.