How to write a resume in English for jobs in Germany

How to write a resume in English for jobs in Germany

by Jakob Straub
September 16, 2021

Your resume or CV is the first impression you’ll convey to recruiters and hiring personnel. It’s crucial to write a strong resume to present yourself in the best possible way, especially when you want to apply in English for a job in Germany.

With companies looking for international candidates, there are no longer fundamental differences between an English and a German resume, but you still need to be aware of the details of the German CV format. We’ll offer tips on how to write a resume in English for job applications in Germany. 

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The German CV Format explained

German recruiters and companies expect a German-language resume, but there are exceptions, such as international positions and jobs that don’t require German language skills. To write a successful resume in English for such an opportunity, you can then follow the German format. But what are the differences exactly?

In the English-speaking world, especially in the US, a resume denotes a one-page summary of your work experience and relevant information, while a CV is longer and includes your academic background and more details.

The Germans typically use the words CV and resume interchangeably. In Germany, prepare a summary of one or two pages that is a mix between the two. Make your document easy to scan both with the eyes and automatically in electronic format by structuring the information and including relevant keywords—abilities, skills, expertise and values recruiters are looking for in regard to the position.

Academic CV in Germany

For academic, research, education or scientific positions, you’d send an academic CV, as well as for a grant, fellowship or doctoral programme. It should list your relevant achievements and experience, depending on your field, as well as any publications, awards, honours or affiliations.

The specific format will vary, but an academic CV is more detailed and can include your presentations at important conferences, research publications or teaching experience, as well as grants or even course work. You can also include notable references. A professor in your department can advise you on the specifics of an academic CV in your field.

How to write a narrative resume

A narrative resume tells the story of your career, job experience and professional development from a first- or third-person point of view. Though unorthodox, it can grab someone’s attention and highlight your branding and marketing skills as you’re selling yourself with catchy copy.

The advantage of this approach is a striking headline and full sentences which can include more keywords relevant to the job. You chart your career journey in brief paragraphs and describe your qualifications and experience in memorable sentences. On the downside, such a resume can still appear as a wall of text and recruiters might discard it before they’ve read through it. A narrative resume is therefore best for jobs where your creativity comes into play, that is, anything writing-related or positions related to art and design.

Format your CV with these sections

Depending on the position to which you’re applying, your resume or CV might highlight different things. But the following sections are mandatory and optional when you build your resume in English for a job in Germany.

Must-have sections for your resume:

  • Personal information
  • Work experience
  • Skills
  • Education

Optional sections for your resume:

  • CV summary, objective or mission statement at the beginning
  • Certifications, awards, publications, grants, patents etc.
  • Language skills
  • Personal projects
  • Volunteer work or other relevant experience

Learn more about how to write your CV in English.

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How to Write a Resume Step by Step

We’ll go over the CV sections step by step to show you how to write a successful resume for English job applications in Germany.

Personal Information

  • Name: Write out your first and last name and stick to the names by which people commonly call you.
  • Title: Your professional title or the position for which you’re applying.
  • Address: List your full address in international format, that is including your country if you’re applying from outside of Germany.
  • Phone number: Same as above, include your country code.
  • Email: Use a professional email address, but avoid using the one of your current job.
  • Website / Social Media: This is flexible and depends on your experience or the job. For example, you can link your portfolio website, job portal profile, professional Twitter or blog.
  • Photo: You don’t have to include a picture, but if you do, it should be a professional headshot.

It used to be common to include your birthday and marital status, but nowadays, it’s outdated; you can list your age if you think it highlights your expertise or job experience, but your marital status is private information.

Statement

Imagine a recruiter only scans your resume. If you include a brief statement at the beginning, you have a chance of making an impression while their attention is still fresh. You can do this with an objective or a summary in two or three sentences.

An objective describes your motivation and goal when applying for the job. It should highlight skills, education and anything else relevant to the position, as well as how you’ll apply yourself and what you bring to the table.

If you have extensive work experience, a summary is best, listing past jobs, relevant achievements and responsibility, important career stages and the professional growth you’re looking for.

Work Experience

This section is central to your resume and your key selling point. You’ll list your employment history in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent position.

  • Position
  • Company, location, description
  • Summary of responsibilities and achievements
  • Employment timeline

To stand out, go beyond ticking off your responsibilities as they appeared in your contract. Highlight your achievements with numbers where possible, for example, a growth percentage or the number of sales. Learn more about how to build your CV with work experience.

Skills

To save valuable space, it’s good practise to tailor this section to the specific job. The description in the ad should tell you what the company is looking for, such as programming skills, technical knowledge or even certification. But you can also include so-called soft skills such as leadership, communication or management.

Education

The section regarding your education can include:

  • Degree or the name of the study programme
  • University
  • Dates attended
  • Optional: GPA, honours, academic achievements and your minor subject, if any

Optional Sections

Additional sections in your resume can help you stand out further in the application process:

  • Certifications and awards: Include those relevant to the position or sector. If you have little work experience, you might include additional online courses.
  • Language skills: Candidates who are at least bilingual stand out. When listing your language skills, categorise them as Native, Fluent, Proficient, Intermediate or Basic.
  • Publications: A list of academic or professional publications.
  • Personal projects: What you do on the side can boost your chances if it highlights your passion, dedication or experience.
  • Volunteer work and experience: Only include those when they’re relevant and reflect positively on you!

Also check out our additional tips for writing the perfect CV!


Write a strong resume as part of a successful application

Avoid a scattershot approach and don’t send out the same version of your resume for wildly different positions. Always tailor the information to the specific company and adjust your keywords and phrasing or restructure the information where necessary. Any recruiter will be put off by information that is not relevant to the role.

To write a successful resume, take extra care to eliminate errors and typos and get rid of fluff or embellishments. Use a consistent design with clear section headings, balance the white-space on the page with margins and line-space and pick a legible font scale. When you send or upload your resume without a cover letter, consider adding a brief statement at the top.

Are you ready to slay the job application process? Here’s how to find English-speaking jobs in Germany!

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Jakob is a freelance writer in Barcelona, Spain, and his favorite books have pages all empty. As an expert storyteller, he publishes creative fiction in English and German and helps other authors shape their manuscripts into compelling stories. Thanks to an expertise in a wide range of topics such as writing, literature and productivity to marketing, travel, and technology, he produces engaging content for his clients. Apart from the escape that books offer, Jakob enjoys traveling digital nomad style and stays active with climbing and hiking. Find out more about him on his website, Twitter or on Goodreads.