Before we moved to Germany many years ago, my wife was lucky to move here with the help of the company she’s still working for. I, on the other hand, had to learn how to write a German CV the hard way.

Since I had a lot of chances talking to them and getting to know more about their application process, I decided to put all crucial information together for you here.

Key takeaways

  1. Besides providing you with a few German CV templates you can find online, I am giving you a lot of insights into how to write your German CV.
    2. You’ll find out what information has to be there, and what information is optional.
    3. Every German CV should also include a cover letter. You can learn more about writing a cover letter and what to include further below.
    4. My recommendation is to hire a German-speaking professionals on my favorite freelancer platform, Fiverr*.
    5. In this way you make sure that you can get the most out of your German CV.
    6. It’s beneficial to have someone write your CV if German is not your native language.

Write a German CV by using the German CV template

Several websites provide either free or paid German CV templates for your convenience. Please find the list of my favorites here:

Paid templates

Paid templates are usually versatile, well structured, have an individual touch. You can even customize them on the respective platforms. Even if you have to pay for those templates or platforms, nothing is more important than a good first impression.

resume.io

resume.io offers many different templates for your subsequent CV. All of them are professionally styled, and most of them are suitable for the German market. After finishing up your CV, you can download the file either for Word or as a PDF file to be able to send it by email.

This platform is also suitable for cover letter templates. That might come in handy if you apply for a new job in Germany.

canva.com

canva.com is another platform that offers far more than just CV templates that are suitable for the German market. The creation process happens online on their platform. Or within the canva app for iOS (which is very easy to use on an iPad) or Android.

Further down, I also included some sources for free CV templates for your convenience.

What is the German CV format they use in Germany?

According to my German colleagues, a German CV should be easy to ready, well structured, and organized. I want to highlight a few critical elements for you or unexpected because it’s your first time applying for a job in Germany. Regardless of the position, you are applying for, a CV or “Lebenslauf” is always structured in the same way.

But before we start, I’d like to tell you more about German letterheads and paper sizes to ensure that you use the correct size for prints. Even if you are submitting your CV as a PDF to a company, make sure that you stick to those recommendations because, most likely, someone will print out your CV at some point in time.

Paper size and other basic recommendations

The standard paper size used in Germany is DIN A4 according to the website of din-formate.info. Double-check your page settings in, e.g., Word, before starting.

Make sure that you leave enough whitespace on the left and right sides – approximately 10 mm on the right and 24 mm on the left. That allows, for example, someone from HR to either punch your CV on the left side and put it in a folder or take some notes on the right side.

The more whitespace you have, the easier it is to read. When using headlines or paragraphs, make sure to put in enough room so that the eye can clearly distinguish one paragraph or topic from the other.

A CV should not be any longer than 2 – 3 pages. That’s something I got to know from one of our company’s HR persons after starting to work there.

Essential information

The essential information to be included in your name and family name, date of birth, address, and contact information. My recommendation is to offer both options, an email address and a phone number, where the company can reach out to you during the day.

This information should be added on top of the “Lebenslauf.” Based on your design, it can be located either in your page’s top-left or top-right corner. In addition to that, make sure to add a photo on top of the CV. It’s not a legal requirement, but many companies, HR people, and recruiters still look for that photo.

By law, that group of people is also required to take anonymized applications into account, but to be completely frank – who would do that if you had more detailed CVs available.

Your professional career

Of course, this should inhabit most of the available parts on your CV. The headline is usually something like “Beruflicher Werdegang”, a professional career, or professional background in English.

Simple notes or binding terms are more than enough here. You could create a table like this:

04/2008 – heute Senior Agile Project Manager
BMW AG, München

03/2012 – 03/2018 Senior Developer
Siemens AG, München

As a rule of thumb, always start with your current or most recent position that you owned and work your way back from there in your professional career timeline.

It’s not uncommon to spice up your CV a bit if you can highlight a few achievements in your career. The same table above would then look like this

04/2018 – today Senior Agile Project Manager
BMW AG, Munich
Project lead for the launch of the new iX1 and the i7 of BMW in 2022
Project lead for the development of electric technology for BMW motors

03/2012 – 03/2018 Senior Developer
Siemens AG, Munich
Responsibility for several product launches during this time
Team lead of the development department in Munich
Collaboration with international teams in US and India

Finish your professional experience first until you get back to your education

Education

With a few years of experience, you only will have to mention your highest level of education. Please write it down in a similar way.

09/2000 Master in Software Engineering
Schaffhausen Institute of Technology, Switzerland

Additional Qualification

If you obtained any additional relevant qualifications for your professional career, you should consider mentioning those.

07/2014 Professional Scrum Master Certification
scrum.org

Language Skills

Mention all languages that you are capable of speaking and writing. Make sure that you are honest with your degree of knowledge. If you can prove any of the levels with an according certification, make sure to add those in as well.

Portuguese native language
English B2 (Cambridge English Qualification)

Interests and Social Engagement

It’s pretty common to add relevant interests or social engagements to your CV in Germany. Don’t write everything in there, only those things you are comfortable mentioning or you think are beneficial for your application.

Here are a few examples of what my colleagues wrote into their CV:

  • Engagement with the volunteer fire brigade
  • Head of a sports club
  • Support of the local animal welfare association

How long is a German CV?

A German CV is usually 2 – 3 pages long. The more experience you have over the years, the longer it can get. Try to keep it as short as possible not to waste the time of any HR person or someone from management.

Do I need the photo in the German CV?

Photos are not required by law in a German CV, so you could easily send yours without. But there is a caveat to this. Employers and recruiters alike are so used to it due to the long history of CVs in Germany that I strongly recommend putting one at the top of your CV.

If you add a photo to the CV, you must use a well-made portrait. My recommendation is to use the services of a professional photographer. They give you at least one digital file of the best shot. This will make it easier to include it in your digital CV.

If the photographer is not that familiar with shooting portraits for German CVs, ask him to choose a neutral background. You should also be appropriately dressed, even if you apply for a blue-collar job. A suit is not necessary for all positions. A shirt is mandatory from my experience, whereas a tie is no longer an essential accessory for men.

For women, a blouse or a plain and straightforward colored sweater or a woman’s suit is required depending on the position you are applying for.

As you can see – those photos should usually be formal and professionally made. You can leave the best impression on your new employer or their recruiter.

I created a specific article where I explain more to you regarding a good photo for your German CV here.

What else to include in a German CV?

Ensure that you add every available evidence for your experience to the CV as an additional attachment. Certifications, your highest educational degree, additional qualifications, and proof of your specific language knowledge should be included.

Where to download a German CV template for free?

There are some free sources available as well. As you may realize by comparing free and paid templates, those are most of the time not as versatile and sophisticated.

lebenslaufmuster.biz

This website offers six CV templates. Since they are not offering templates for the cover letter, I recommend you make sure that they look as consistent as possible before sending out your application.

The templates are provided as Microsoft Word documents as free downloads.

Hays.de

Hays.de is a well-known recruitment agency. They offer free templates that you may use for your purpose, but they are not sophisticated at all from my perspective. Again, those templates are provided for free as Microsoft Word documents.

Should I write a CV in German or English for a job in Germany?

If the job ad is in German, my recommendation is that your CV should be in German. If needed, try to get some help from someone who can speak and write German as fluently as possible.

Is the job ad in English, you should send your CV and everything else in English.

Do I have to include a cover letter when I write my German CV?

I talked to the HR department of the company I am working for, and they mentioned that cover letters are not the first thing they will look at but are no less important. If an HR person thinks that your CV could be exciting and they’d like to learn more about you, they will read the cover letter.

Your cover letter should tick at least include some of the things mentioned below:

  • Include your full name, address, phone number, email, and other contact details
  • Write the full name and address of the company and the name of the contact person the letter is addressed to in case you know the name
  • Please also include the date and subject matter 

The first paragraph

This paragraph in your cover letter should include why you are applying for the job. This could be that you either recently relocated to Germany and are searching for a job or would like to make a career change.

The second paragraph in your cover letter

The second paragraph should describe your skills, experiences, and abilities. Is there anything worth mentioning that makes you unique or more suitable than other applicants? Do you have any special skills that could benefit the job you are applying for? Let them know where your strengths are.

You may also consider mentioning a remarkable achievement in the past that relates to the new position you are applying for.

The third paragraph

This should include more information, why the company should choose you, and how you can be beneficial for the company’s success. The third paragraph should be tailored to the position and the company you apply for.

Closing paragraph

The closing paragraph usually reiterates that you are interested in the position again. Thank whoever you addressed the cover letter to for considering you and stating that you’d be looking forward to meeting/talking to them in person (or via a virtual interview).

Let professionals write a German CV for you

As I mentioned initially, writing a CV can be challenging because sometimes there are industry or country-specific characteristics you might not necessarily be aware of. 

Why hire a professional to write a German CV for you?

I recommend hiring a professional to write a German CV for you, mainly when they live in Germany. It’s also beneficial if you find someone who at least writes and speaks German at the same level as you are.

Where to find a professional to write a German CV for you?

From my experience, you can find great copywriters that specialize in writing German CVs for jobseekers from abroad on Fiverr*.

Fiverr* is a platform for freelancers, and you can easily find someone living in Germany and hire them to write a German CV for you at a relatively low cost.

Conclusion

Writing a CV yourself is not that difficult, but managing Germany’s rules and standard practices might not be as easy as you expect. Based on my own experience, it can be helpful to hire a professional CV writer to create a good-looking CV and provide you with a well-made German CV template.


USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT GERMANY

JOBS IN GERMANY
> How To Get A Job In Germany
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INSURANCE IN GERMANY
> 15 types of insurance in Germany any expat should have in 2022
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FINANCES IN GERMANY
> Find Best Rates for Loan in Germany [Loan Calculator Guide]
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WAGES AND TAXES IN GERMANY
> Tax return Germany – Everything you need to know
> Average Salary in Germany Latest Data
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WORKING IN GERMANY
> CV in German with Europass: How to fill in step by step
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LEARNING GERMAN LANGUAGE
> How to learn German fast: Top 10 strategies


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About the Author

Alex

Alex works in product management and has been living in Germany for more than 12 years. He has been speaking German for more than 22 years. His passion is to help people, who want to live a good life in a German speaking country, to learn German super fast. Want to connect with him? Send him an email and he'll get in touch with you.

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