There are many similarities between the way you apply for jobs in Germany and the UK for example but there are still some differences worth noting.
Typically in Germany, employers want more detail than in the UK and it is still quite common for an employer to request a hard copy of your application and copies of your most important certificates like your degree which go into a Bewerbungsmappe or Die Mappe (application folder).
It is also usual to include proof of training courses attended and any references from previous employers if you have them. Remember not to include original certificates as very often these will not be returned.
In line with other countries it is becoming increasingly common for recruiters to receive online applications in the form of a PDF. If sending an application by email it is recommended that you send all the information requested as a single PDF document. However, you should only submit an application by email if requested to do so. It is still not standard practice in Germany.
Speculative applications are common and welcomed in Germany with employers often reviewing these applications before advertising the job.
You will also need to check the language you need to apply in. Some international companies may not require you to be a German speaker but typically your application would be in German. If you are non-German and applying for a smaller company in Germany you will need to have any certificates and reference letters translated into German.
CVs in Germany
The aim and format of CVs in German is largely the same as in the UK. However, below are some of the key differences and features of CVs in Germany.
A German CV should not exceed two pages; a one page CV is usually sufficient for a new graduate. Typically a German CV would go into more detail about qualifications and certifications than a UK CV.
It's fairly common to include the heading 'Lebenslauf' (Curriculum Vitae) at the top of your CV. It is also standard to sign and date your CV at the bottom. Place and date should be typed in the left corner, with your signature in the bottom right corner.
The ‘personal details’ section should include full name, postal address, telephone number (with country prefix), email address, date and place of birth, marital status and number of children, if any. It is standard procedure in Germany to state your complete date of birth on the CV.
Despite trends towards anonymous selection processes it is still quite usual to include a photo. This is either attached to your application folder or to the right hand corner of your CV. Use a professional photo rather than one from a photo-booth.
Some employers ask for a Tabellarischer Lebenslauf, or tabular CV. This means you should organise your CV in tabular form with different subsections for work experience, education and language skills.
In terms of sections on your CV, a German and UK based CV are very similar with the most recent experience placed first. However, if you have relevant professional experience you can place this at the beginning of your CV.
Like a UK CV, information should be placed in reverse chronological order, most recent first. For dates, you don't need to include the day, but should put the month. It is important you don't leave any gaps in your education and emplyment history.
While there are standard CV templates available, like Europass, German companies prefer applications to be personalised rather than use the Europass template, but do follow any instructions given.
When referring to your language skills on your CV it is advisable to use the Common European Reference Framework for Languages (CEFR).
Only metion hobbies which are directly relevant to the role you are applying for.
Examples of German CVs
- There are several examples of German CVs and covering letters on the Germany section of Going Global.
- Monster.de also includes an example of a tabular CV and covering letter as well as examples of sector specific CVs.
- Rwthaachen University has produced a helpful CV checklist covering content in each of the main sections.
Covering letters in Germany
- A covering letter in Germany is called an ‘Anschreiben’.
- The content of the covering letter is very similar to that in the UK – why you, why the role, why the company.
- In Germany, titles are very important so do check the name and title of the person dealing with your application.
- If sending a speculative application, address it to ‘Personalabteilung’ and write this under the company name in the address.