CV Styles in Europe
Writing a CV is not the easiest task. Trying to capture who you are in the best light by cramming all of your credentials onto a mere A4 page can be challenging. There’s also a lot of pressure that comes with creating the ‘perfect’ CV, especially when a job you’re really excited about depends on it.
And when you mix in the complications of applying to international jobs Well, it gets even more complicated. If you’re someone who has been applying to jobs abroad, you may have noticed that different countries have different expectations as to what you should and shouldn’t include in your CV.
For example, while the US and UK prefer a more practical, impersonal format, in Europe the CVs have a more personal or even ‘creative’ feel. They usually include more colour, a photo of the candidate, and some personal details about their life. Your age, nationality, birth date, maiden name, marital status and hobbies are all common, personal details to include on your CV in the EU, whereas this kind of information would seem quite odd to US and UK employers.
Overall, there are a lot of key differences you might want to consider before you send in a job application abroad. To help clear up some of the confusion, we’ll be breaking down CV requirements according to the standards of individual countries.
CV in Spain
Length: The length of your CV should be no more than one to two pages. As a general rule- the more concise you can be, no matter the country, the better.
Photo: You should also include a photo of yourself.
Personal info: Your date of birth, nationality, marital status, full address, phone number, and email should be included.
References: Not necessary, but if you have good references it might be better to include them with their name, position/company, phone number and email.
Best to sort your CV in reverse chronological order, with your most relevant and recent experience at the top, followed by your qualifications, and then education.
Include languages you speak with your level of proficiency. You should write your CV in Spanish, unless you are applying for an English-speaking job. If you can speak Spanish but not fluently, it would be best to have a native speaker help translate in order to avoid any grammatical errors.
Include a short list of relevant skills. But be careful not to make this section too long. In general, do not write any long paragraphs and always stick to one or two sentences max.
You can also add volunteer experience, projects, and achievements.
CV in Germany
Length: One to two pages.
Photo: Not necessary
Personal info: Address, phone number, and email address only
References: It is less common to include contact details of your references on your CV. More common would be for the employer to request that you include, as separate attachments, written recommendation letters.
The German CV is more commonly known as the Lebenslauf. The Lebenslauf isn’t very different from a CV, but it is expected to be a factual document detailing basic information and expertise in a simple, straight to the point manner. So, try not to be too creative with this one. Stay away from anything too bold or colourful in terms of design- keep it basic, and be sure to triple check for any spelling or grammar mistakes!
The order should be personal information, relevant and recent experience, education, skills, and extracurricular activities or relevant hobbies/personal interests.
A motivation or summary paragraph is not included in German CVs- this kind of information is expected from your cover letter.
If you are confident in your German skills, being able to have your CV in German would be a big plus! If you don’t speak German, it’s best to refrain- otherwise, the employer may have the false impression that you are fluent in German.
CV in United Kingdom
Length: One to two pages
Personal info: No. Include your name, address, phone number, and e-mail at the top of your CV. Do not mention your age or marital status.
References: While references are not always required, most CVs in the UK will include them. If the job description or employer specificies that you need them, make sure you have three references to include, with their name, contact details, and their position/company.
A brief personal statement stating why you’re a suitable candidate is expected as the first section of your CV. Do not exceed one short and succinct paragraph.
Order should be: relevant and recent experience, followed by your qualifications/achievements, and then education. Your education should clearly state the institution, dates of when you started/ended, and your final score.
Make the layout clear and concise, with a simple font and headers. Do not go crazy with any colours or designs- this won’t be considered professional.
Write your CV in British English. You can have this done automatically for you by changing your spell check settings. Also note that in the UK they use different wordings- for example, an unpaid internship should be referred to as “work experience.”
CV in France
Length: One page
Personal info: Yes
Relevant and recent experience, followed by your qualifications, and then education. France CVs have very detailed work experience sections, so make sure to include the dates of employment, company, responsibilities, and the industry. Only choose the jobs most relevant to the position you are applying for.
Education is also highly valued, so include any special academic certificates or achievements if you have them.
Make sure to include your language skills with the level of proficiency.
Write a small section about your hobbies and interests. Be prepared to be asked about these during an interview. Don’t write too much- CVs in France should still remain factual and concise. One or two sentences is enough.
Write your CV in French unless the language of your job is different.
CV in Belgium
Length: One to two pages.
Personal info: Yes
References: Not required. You can leave them out unless specified otherwise.
Relevant and recent experience, followed by your qualifications, and then education.
Belgian employers are interested in learning about your personal details so they can get a full picture of who you are. They also want to know more about your extracurricular activities, so don’t be shy in this section- but also, as always, try to keep it relevant, including only information or achievements that help highlight you as a candidate.
For education, there is no need to include any grades unless specified. The language expectations are a bit complicated, considering the different languages spoken based on the region in Belgium. However, to simplify things, apply in whatever language the job you’re applying for requires, whether it’s Dutch, English, French or German.
As long as you do your research, you will be able to tailor your CV to make that perfect application for your possible new adventure abroad.
Some closing tips to remember:
Don’t be too wordy. Keep it concise and to the point.
If you’re writing in another language try having a native speaker translate for you
Never make your CV more than two pages.
Don’t add anything on your CV that you wouldn’t be able to take full ownership of during an interview. Never lie!
Other than the country specifics, those are the golden rules to remember!
If you have any other countries you’d like us to cover, do not hesitate to reach out and send us your recommendations. We’re always happy to help.