A professional CV boosts your chances of landing your dream job.
We offer customisable templates on Lebenslauf.com to help you create your own CV. Add your personal details, what you studied, your professional experience and your skills to tell recruiters about yourself. Here are some more ideas and advice for your application:
Start your CV with your name. This is already the case with our templates. A lot of people write ‘CV’ as their heading, but that’s now considered to be outdated. The whole point of a CV is to be able to scan information about someone immediately. You also no longer need to add your signature at the end of your CV. In the past, this was considered a way of confirming the authenticity of the details provided, but most companies no longer expect this.
The structure and content of your CV is important. We suggest including the following points as a minimum:
- Personal details
- Academic background
- Professional experience
Your personal details include things like your full name, address, phone number, e-mail, date and place of birth. Contact details make it easier for recruiters to get in touch with you.
Your skills can include computer and language skills, along with any hobbies or activities you do in your free time.
The General Act on Equal Treatment (AGG) means there’s no legal requirement to include a photo in your application. However, many companies in Germany still expect you to include a photo as it’s considered a way of creating an initial impression of the applicant.
Avoid photo booths
Try avoiding photos taken in a booth as recruiters will spot them immediately and think the job isn’t worth the time, effort and money in getting professional photos taken.
A word to the wise – professional photos might cost you 100 euros, but you can use them for multiple applications and they’ll make a great first impression.
Why do I need professional photos?
Experienced recruiters draw certain conclusions based on what they see in photos. This also depends on your clothing, hairstyle, skin hygiene, camera angle (front-facing or turned to the side), crop (head and shoulders or full-body), lighting and background.
Seasoned photographers know what recruiters are looking for and will make sure you’re prepared for your photo session. They’ll also put you in the right poses and help you pick the right photos afterwards. If you’re applying for a job in a creative industry, such as a graphic designer, you can probably dress down, while people applying with a bank will likely need to suit up.
Professional photos alone won’t get you the job. But they can certainly help you get shortlisted ahead of other applicants who opted for the photo booth route.
Application photo = Passport photo?
Application photos are typically 4.5 x 6 cm or 5 x 7 cm, making them larger than passport photos. They’re usually in portrait mode, unless your layout requires a square or rectangle. You can always arrange this when getting professional photos taken.
Ask the photographer to take photos of you in different poses and different outfits (you’ll need to bring those with you). Afterwards the photographer will help you pick out the right photos for you to use with your application. You can also ask friends and family for advice.
Less is more: recruiters want to build up a clear picture of you, but they need to do that as quickly as possible. Your CV should only ever be more than 2 pages if you have a lot of experience and have worked at several companies.
The days are gone where it was seen as a negative if you had unexplained gaps in your CV. Simply add them to your CV without any further information.
However, recruiters are bound to ask about them during an interview, so make sure you have plausible explanations for any gaps you might have.
CV gap due to unemployment?
Recent financial crises mean that people at any career level can be affected by layoffs. This in turn means that it’s fine to have a gap in your CV if you were made unemployed. What’s important here is what you did afterwards: did you take any training to acquire new skills? Or did you hang around at home? The longer you’re unemployed, the harder it gets to explain away the gap in your CV.
Quit studying or an apprenticeship?
Studying or doing an apprenticeship at a young age always carries the risk of realising it’s not what you want to do after all. It’s no big deal if you opt for a change of path as it shows you’re willing to take important decisions. You might even find that the skills and experience you picked up before quitting your course or apprenticeship will be of use to you in the job you’re applying for.
Gather experience through travel
Travelling is a great way to ‘cover up’ gaps in your CV, but only if you use your time wisely. Maybe you went abroad to hone a certain language and experience other cultures. Then you can definitely put this in your CV. But watch out – if, for instance, you went to France for 3 months, the recruiter might suddenly switch to French to test you.
Another way of explaining gaps in your CV is if you were part of a voluntary organisation or something similar. Maybe you looked after a relative in need of care, or trained a football team? Not only does this kind of information explain CV gaps, but it also acts as proof of your soft skills.
Maybe you worked alongside your studies? If so, add that information to your CV, too.
Keep it real
If you have any gaps in your CV, be honest about them. Recruiters will ask you about any gaps and you should have a plausible explanation ready. But don’t lie as the truth always comes out in the end and recruiters are likely to check up on what you say afterwards.