German Dopers: How Long Of A Resume Is Required By German Employers?

I am the midst of updating my resume, but a friend in Germany thinks that the one page I will have when I finish may not be enough.

What other kinds of items other than work history, education, licensure and professional organizations I belong to would they like to see on a resume?



Guten Tag!

Standard for most employers in Europe is two sides.

I have charity work on mine. I am not sure that many other people add this to their’s though. I think, if it makes you look good and can be classed as relevant in any way put it on there!


I’m not sure how long it should be, but I can tell you that Germans typically include a photo in their resumes. (just a headshot, nothin’ fancy)

You should also include your nationality if you don’t hold a German passport.

One page ought to be enough if everything relevant is included (which should be possible unless you have had a lot of prior jobs to list). Managers looking to fill a qualified position usually have to look through a number of applications in the high two digits/low 3 digits, so they appreciate a format that’s good to handle.

A good passport-size photograph is usually required by German employers; when I last applied for jobs the prevailing advice was to write your name on the back (in case it got loose) and to loosely attach it to the resume.

A few large companies have got standardized questionnaires that they send to applicants to fill out when receiving the application letter; for the rest the application letter+CV+attachments are all that’s being processed.

A few more points:

  • covering letter: needs to be formulated for each job applications one sheet; essentially laying out the reasons why you are particularly suited to the position offered and why you are replying to this particular advertisement (don’t tell them that you are sending resumes to everyone. They want to be told that is specifically this position that you are after because you and that job were meant for each other).

  • resume (Lebenslauf): needs to also be adapted at least slightly to the position offered (stressing qualifications/experience relevant to that particular job). Job ads usually also ask for what income you expect. One vital data point for prospective German employers often is: how much notice are you required to give at your current job? There are not infrequent instances where a long contractual notice period (e.g. you can next terminate your current employment contract effective 31.12.03) is a dealbreaker. If you are not subject to a long notice period this is a plus (of course if you are currently at totally loose ends it doesn’t do to stress this too much - it’s not much of a compliment if no-one wants to keep you…)

  • a German Lebenslauf begins with your birth (date, city, names of parents), then covers your education, training and employment in chronological order, ending with your current/last employment. All time periods need to be covered without interruption (if there is a chronological lacuna the prospective employer may suspect something disfavorable, like unemployment or prison time). Also relevant in the Lebenslauf: citizenship, types of driving license(s) held, some short words on your hobbies and poss. extracurricular qualifications. If you are a citizen of a country with mandatory military service, it serves to reassure the employer to state that you already have fulfilled your obligation, or that you aren’t liable to be drafted anymore.

  • needed as attachments: copies of your last educational certificate (showing grades) and copies of reference letters from all previous employers (except the current one). If any of these references is from a German employer, have a knowledgeable person look over that letter for hidden/implied negative statements. German employment references may not contain overt negative statements, so if necessary they contain phrases like “was given the opportunity to do his job well” (meaning “did not use that opportunity”) or “proved a very convival person” (meaning “is a drunk”).

Regarding the photo: Why? I’ve heard accusations of racism. Is there any possible legitimate reason?

Hi, Quasimodem.

I’m an American currently looking for a job in Germany. Tschild has hit the relevant spots, but I’d like to add a couple of details.

  • You must have a photo in you application. Attach this to the upper right corner of your “Lebenslauf.” Use a passport sized photo, but have it done by a professional photographer. The photo should be of your head only. You can wear your glasses (if you have glasses) in the photo. The picture should present you as you want to be perceived - I try for a direct personality (look into the camera) and friendly (slight smile - no grin or open smile.) This your first impression that the prospective employer will get of you - make it a good one.

  • After your “Lebenslauf” comes a second page called “Darstellung der wichtigsten Berufsstufen.” This repeats the job part of the “Lebenslauf,” but with more details for each position you’ve held. You need a clean, straight forward description of your duties for each position. Drop the flowery prose, and use clear sentences. The flowery part comes (hopefully) in your reference letters (Zeugnissen.)

  • Keep your cover letter to one page, but do describe any abilities/training you have that will make you especially suitable for the job. A letter in DIN standard format comes across well.

  • Do NOT fold your application. Put it in a clip binder and mail it in a large envelope. If you can’t print addresses directly on the envelope, then print labels and put them on the envelope. Do NOT hand address the envelope.

This is the way I’ve prepared my applications, and I get an invitation to an interview on about one third of my applications. My problem is usually when they get to the part about the salary - my salary at my last job was astronomical (compared to most of the jobs I’ve been applying for) and the employers seem to think I’ll be terribly unhappy taking a pay cut. They think I’ll be moving on again in a relatively short time since I’m not making as much as I used to. Their mistake, and I do my best to convince them otherwise, but no one has believed me to date.

If you like, I can send you a copy of my Lebenslauf, Berufsstufen, and a sample application so that you can see the format. I’d send you the “Dokumentvorlagen,” but I don’t think you’ve got Lyx and Latex.

Written by Freiheit

Sending a photograph with a job application is expected but I haven’t seen any official reason stated. If you’d ask a HR person they’d probably say that managers want to be able to get an impression of personality.

Racism as a reason - I don’t think so, mainly because if you are of non-German ethnicity your name would be much better clue to that than a photograph (immigrants to Germany neither germanize their last names nor give their children German first names).

Lookism would be nearer the mark. For some jobs people are expected to be attractive, for other jobs they are expected to look like an authority figure, when the job is e.g. selling tractors to farmers a solid, homely look might be a plus, etc.