In an international context, a CV or a resume can vary depending on the culture and labor practices in each market. There are no real resume rules and you’d potentially find thousands (if not more) templates on a Google search. However, when moving countries, new cultural differences are seldom taken into consideration. At Experteer, we wanted to share a few insights into applying in Germany: tips for the perfect CV, if you may. We hope these tips and come in handy and help you define a vantage point for your own senior management career.
Chronological or not?
To put it briefly: the times of putting everything from kindergarten to your current job on 10 pages are strictly gone. Basically you will need a reverse chronological order to explain what you’re doing currently and if you have had a working life of over 10-15 years, internships or junior roles which do not seem significant now do not need to be extremely detailed on those.
It is most critical to talk in detail about the impact, leadership roles, expertise & skill sets in your current role. You may want to re work and focus either on the most recent role, or additionally customize the experiences (through focus, highlights) based on the exact profile that you’re applying for.
This is perhaps the most distinctly different expectation in a German resume. In many countries and cultures, resumes with photographs are not considered important and sometimes are strictly avoided. However, it is common practice in Germany to have resumes with photographs.
Experteer’s research shows that 67% of resumes without photographs fall through – and are not considered – by the headhunters or recruiters. Photographs used on the resume must follow professional standards. It is best to have them professionally clicked – and not from the nearest self-operating photo booths.
Dangerous selfies and photographs from a summer party are usually a no-go unless you’re applying for job titles that perhaps necessitate the need for these. For a senior position, quality is the prime concern.
A photograph needs to be a representation of your true self, be recent and look like you ( there have been plenty interviews where people get surprised when photographs and the person in reality look so different).
Think about this as a personal branding exercise, a picture is sure enough worth a thousand words.
The length: Short and sweet!
One of our Headhunter partners had great insights on this exact aspect. If you can’t tell your story in a short and concise manner, and are not able to prioritize important information on the CV, there’s little hope that you can do it at work too.
A two pager CV serves the purpose and when crafted in a strong and important manner, can definitely be a door opener to an interview and get you one step closer to your next career step. Any addition on the CV that adds no value to the position that you’re applying for is perhaps a good way to help you reduce information.
At the same time, be sure you mention all the skills, career goals and other aspects that the recruiter may most definitely be look for (for instance depending on your industry, level and the job description).
The structure of the resume
Consistency, readability, a quick grasp of what your aspirations and experiences need to be the three main important things to keep in mind when defining the structure of your CV. As a senior professional, you have perhaps also interviewed other candidates for different positions.
Look back into your own experience and think about what structure impressed you the most. Once you have been able to determine a suitable mind map and put down your key ideas, show it to a friend or your spouse and check for readability and understanding.
It’s always helpful to get another perspective so that you can be completely sure. Remember, eventually for any position, there’s effectively just one question: why should I hire you and not anyone else- your CV needs to answer that.
Get professional help
Especially if you are applying in Germany and it is a new culture for you, then as an expat senior professional, there is no shame in getting your resume reviewed by a professional agency. Experteer partner CV Coach helps candidates – at senior levels as well, get their CV checked by experts in the market. This will enable you to get a professional review. They may also offer additional services where someone can even write your CV, if that helps you save time and effort. Experts also offer personal advice based on your skill set, experiences and career level.