Curriculum Vitae

Unfortunately, there is no one perfect formula for creating a CV.

CV templates should only be used to get a feel for the structure and the layout of a CV. Copy & Paste is not very helpful in this case as most HR departments know these books quite well.

Your personal qualification profile should be the deciding factor on how your CV is structured. Pre-designed examples can never compete with an authentic CV and they fail to establish a desired connection to the position and company.

The structure of the Curriculum Vitae

  • The curriculum vitae should be structured counter chronologically (from the most recent information to the oldest).
  • The layout should be laid out - in tabular form with time and content columns.
  • Using bullet points ensures excellent legibility. For example, when listing the performance of specific activities of individual practical experience or in the main areas of study.
  • The CV should consist of a maximum of two pages.
  • A custom letterhead is an advantage. You no longer need to list all the information contained in the letterhead under personal data.
  • Do not forget the place, date, and signature in your CV.

Categories in the Curriculum Vitae

The structure should be based on thematic blocks. There are no fixed requirements for the headings of the blocks.


Here are possible categories that can be used in the Curriculum Vitae:

  • Personal data 
    (only if it's not already
    mentioned in a cover page) 
  • University Education
  • Vocational training
  • Experience abroad
  • Internship
  • Practical activities
  • Civilian/ military service
  • High School Education
    (only mention if High School is in Germany)
  • University engagement
  • Additional quatifications
    (Languages, IT, Advanced trainning)
  • Social/Volunteer work
  • Interests or hobbies

Of course, not all of these points need to be mentioned. You can also summarize points, for example, use a category "school and education".

Each point should appear once in your CV. For instance, an internship abroad could be stated either in practical activities, internship, or experience abroad - depending on how you name and classify your categories.

There should not be too many sub-items under a heading. A category that contains ten sub-items is confusing. It would be best if you did not skip the content. For example, two different courses should be under the same heading, even if there is a leap of a few years in between.

Fitting Your CV to the Job

Not only should your Cover Letter be customized for the job, your CV should also reflect the position for which you are applying.
Possible Customizations:

  • How detailed should the University section be? Should important exams, research papers, grades, special projects be mentioned or left out?
  • Which areas of focus should be mentioned in your studies?
  • Should concrete responsibilities in student assistant jobs, part-time positions, or internships be included or not? When yes, how detailed should the list be and which order and key words should be used?
  • Should special computer skills be emphasized or not? Should only the computer programs or software that you are especially good at be mentioned or also those in which you are not an expert?
  • Should emphasis be placed on certain language skills or not?
  • List volunteer work? If yes, then how detailed and important should this list be?
  • When more than one stay abroad is in the CV, do you give them a separate section? Should they have their own section or should they be put in with work experience or studies?

Tips for Displaying

Mentioning Foreign Language Skills

There is no real set standard when speaking about foreign language skills when writing a CV. The following commonly key words along with the European language Framework (A1-C2) can be used to help you in classifying your skills accordingly.

… is the level you have when you have completed a language course or had 2-3 years of a language in school.

… is the level used with more than three years of experience in school.

… is for when you use a language actively both inside and outside of school. If you are able to use the language for conversations over E-mail, telephone calls, and general workplace communication then this is the appropriate level to use.

… means that you speak the language at a near native level and all forms of communication in both the workplace and at university are able to be delivered in the foreign language.

Caution: Be careful when writing fluent. Sometimes, the language can suddenly change during your interview to the language you put down as fluent. A test to show what you got!

Native speaker level: is used when you have the language skills of a native speaker of the language. That is the case if you grew up in the country, speak the language daily and it is the language you are strongest. If you speak more than one language as a native speaker, you can point out two native languages.


In the following, you will find tips on how to display and structure your systems. The clarity and relevance of the systems have the highest priority.

  • University degrees and certificates
  • Grades and courses transcript if you have not graduated yet
  • Job and internship certificates
  • High School diploma (If completed in Germany)
  • Work examples, language or computer certificates, certificates from training courses, and prizes belong in the attachments as well but only if you believe that they are relevant for the position you are applying for. This is different from job to job, so exercise caution in what you attach, it is better to attach less and offer to send additional documents than to attach too many.

  • References are uncommon in Germany, but if you are applying in Germany, you can also include them in the attachment or request a proof of employment/reference letter from your previous employer.

  • For “Mini-“ or short CV’s just include the most important documents.

You do not have to present all documents that you mentioned in you CV! Applications usually contain too many certificates rather than too few.
Course certificates or those from workshops do not belong in the attachments, especially if they were short.
Copies of contracts, presentations, research papers, and other similar documents also do not belong in the attachments unless stated otherwise.
Original or certified copies also do not belong in applications. Only use scanned copies.

The attachments should be organized by a scale of importance.
With an online application, put all the attachments in one PDF document. Pay attention to the maximum size allowed (3MB) so that the file will not be too large.
When you wish to send only a few certificates (less than 5), you can simply attach these in the same document following your CV. This is also the case for online applications. When you have more than 5, please create a table of contents.

  • You can use your personalized letterhead here.
  • The individual attachments can be listed with keywords.
  • Try to organize them according to their importance and general theme.
  • Describe the attachments so that the description tells the reader exactly what kind of document is to be expected.
  • Sometimes certain certificates can be over 5 pages. Attach only the relevant pages.
  • Do not attach transcripts you printed yourself, get them from the university.