How many people do you think will read that announcement? And how many, in your opinion, will they run for that place?

Have you any idea?

I’ll tell you: dozens and dozens. In some cases, hundreds.

Given this rosy premise, I ask you now:

In your opinion, how important is it that your resume is able to rise from the crowd and be able to hit the interest of the potential employer?

For this reason, your resume (and more specifically your Bewerbung ) should not be one among many.

It should not be a curriculum: it should be THE curriculum.

In this article you will learn which features a resume in Germany must have in order to have a better chance of being considered.

If you don’t feel like writing it yourself, I suggest you contact Luca, a trusted translator who will translate your resume and adapt it to the required standards in Germany.

If you are a new reader of my blog, before continuing to read the article I suggest you sign up for the newsletter.

In this way, you will receive free new advice and suggestions to move, live and work in Germany!

Learning is easy (but what anger!)

The first time I created my resume in German I made a total disaster.

First mistake: it was not clear to me how I should do it and I proceeded to attempts.

The biggest mistake I made was doing it in a European format. No one told me that it is a format that should not be used in Germany.

Second mistake: I had inserted some entries that are commonly present in the Italian curriculum but that should be omitted from the German curriculum to be included in the cover letter.

The third mistake: when I applied for a job, I only sent the curriculum. Totally wrong! When applying for a job offer you must send a Bewerbung.

Don’t worry if you still don’t know what a Bewerbung is… I’ll explain it to you in a moment!

In the end, after much study and attempts, I finally managed to put together a more or less decent resume.

If someone had told me that a couple of years later I would have translated hundreds of resumes in German, I swear to you, I would never have believed it!

The Lebenslauf

The Lebenslauf, or curriculum vitae, is an account of your experiences and your education.

But it is only one of the three parts of what you will have to send to apply for a job in Germany.

Presenting only the curriculum, in fact, denotes a certain lack of interest in the job offer and the chances of being recalled for a  job interview collapse considerably.

To apply for a job offer in Germany – and also be more likely to be hired – you need to present a small file called Bewerbung.

But what exactly is a Bewerbung?

The Bewerbung is composed of three parts (four if we consume the Deckblatt, that is the first page made up of the title, your photo, and your main personal data):

  • the  Lebenslauf  (curriculum vitae)
  • the Anschreiben (the cover letter)
  • Zeugnisse, that is all the certificates and diplomas in your possession and the letters of reference that they left you from the previous work ( Arbeitszeugnisse ).

It is very important that your Bewerbung is done in a workmanlike manner. It will not be just a way to apply but it will have to be the mirror of yourself.

Do you have dirty Bewerbung? They will think you are a dirty person.

Do you have an incomplete Bewerbung? They will think that you also lack some skills.

Do you have a perfect Bewerbung? Guess what they will think of you

You are your Bewerbung. Create it in your image and likeness.

And NEVER underestimate (and I repeat: NEVER!) The strength of your uniqueness.

Want to learn more about creating a perfect Bewerbung that won’t be trashed?

The differences between Lebenslauf and the “Italian” curriculum

The Lebenslauf is a concise and schematic summary of one’s education and experiences.

The first important consideration I would like to make regarding the Lebenslauf, namely the German curriculum vitae, is that it is not structured exactly like the curriculum vitae we mean in Italy.

Indeed, there are some substantial differences between the curriculum vitae and the Lebenslauf.

For this reason, I advise you not to translate it faithfully but to rewrite it ex novo, perhaps with Word or a similar video writing program, following these guidelines:

  • First, very important, never create your Lebenslauf in European format.
    In Germany, it is generally very bad to present a curriculum in Europass since it is a used and abused format and therefore no longer expresses originality and creativity.
  • Never write more than two pages and focus on the most important aspects of your journey, leaving aside everything that is not interesting or inherent to the position you are applying for.
  • Another big difference is the schematic required by the Lebenslauf, which must be written in tabular form.
    Hardly your resume will be read in full, rather the eyes will scroll on the various lines in search of points, dates, keywords.
    Therefore avoid whole sentences preferring the use of bullet points to insert a word or two.
  • NEVER use Google Translate or any other automatic translator for the translation of your resume as automatic translators return incorrect translations or in the worst case completely meaningless!

How a Lebenslauf is composed

The curriculum must consist of:

  • personal data
  • professional experiences
  • training
  • internships and voluntary work
  • language and computer skills
  • hobbies and interests (only in some cases)
  • place, date, and signature

Other sections, such as personal skills and competences, should NOT be included in the curriculum, but in the presentation letter.

You will not even need to insert a clause for the processing of personal data, as used in Italy.

Let us now see all the points of the Lebenslauf in detail.

1. Personal data and photography

In this section you will need to indicate the following points:

  • name and surname
  • marital status
  • date and place of birth
  • Nationality
  • address
  • e-mail and possible website
  • telephone number

If you do not have a Deckblatt, next to this data you will need to place your photo. The photo for the curriculum also follows guidelines.

I recommend not to insert a photo ID photo for documents, it is not very professional (and often a horrible face comes out :-D).

Opt for a half-length photo, perhaps slightly tilted to one side.

My advice, however, is to go to a professional photographer and ask for a photo for the Lebenslauf: he will know what to do!

2. Professional experiences

Since the professional experiences are the most important section for companies, it is good to place this section first, immediately below the personal data.

You will have to start from your last experience and proceed backward to the first.

If the last work experience is still in progress, you will have to write * BEGINNING YEAR – heute *, for example, “2015 – heute”.

If you have just graduated from university and have not yet completed (enough) relevant work experience to include in your resume, I recommend that you post this section in third place and include your education immediately below your personal data.

Even in this case, however, do not leave the professional experience section completely empty!

Think of all the student jobs you’ve done, be it the math repetitions of the eight-year-old son at the neighbor’s that brought the pizzas home for fast food on the street corner.

Also be careful not to leave temporal holes in your resume  (what in German are called Lücken, gaps) between work experience and another.

Recruiters are trained to recognize them and when you face an interview, the Lücken will immediately be noticed and you will be asked what you did during that time.

So write what you did in this time frame (a language course? A training trip? An internship?) But without lying.

If you haven’t done anything, don’t write that you were unemployed, but looking for a job: try to gild the pill!

For each work experience, you will be able to write a brief description of the company for which you worked and what tasks you had.

Especially if you do not own the Arbeitszeugnisse, I suggest you also enter the company website and contact details.

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