Top 3 Differences between a US and German Resumé

Top 3 Differences between a US and German Resumé

German is the official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. There are some minor language differences across these countries, not unlike US versus British or Canadian English.

For the purposes of this blog, we’ll compare US resumé/CV customs to Germany only, as Austria or Switzerland merit their own blog post. So, stay tuned!

That said, for German candidates sending their resumé to a US company, there are 3 major differences between a resumé sent to a German employer and a resumé sent to a US employer. Here are the differences and guidelines on how to approach them:

List Your Military Experience or Civil Service

Until July 1, 2011 Germany had obligatory military experience or civil service. It is the custom that military experience be listed on a German resumé. Mandatory military experience should appear on your resumé in a separate rubric after your professional experience. By contrast, candidates who have voluntarily chosen a career in the military should include it as part of the professional section of their resumé.

Mandatory military service does not apply to the US as those in the armed forces have enlisted voluntarily. Therefore, military service is considered an extension of your career. This experience should appear in the professional experience section of your resumé.

Do Not List Your High School

In Germany it is the custom to include secondary education (equivalent to high school) on your resumé irrespective of whether you have tertiary education (post-secondary education such as college or university), as employers want to see this information.

In the US, the rule of thumb is don't list your high school if you have tertiary qualifications. However, if high school is your highest level of education, then include your high school in your resumé.

In rare situations if your high school highlights something unique about you like you attended high school in a foreign country, then include it on your resumé. This is true for most countries, including the US.

Do Not Include Personal Information or Photo

As you may have guessed from the last blogs on the differences between Italian and French resumés/CVs with those of their US counterparts, including personal information such as date of birth, marital status as well as photo on your resumé in continental Europe is the norm and Germany is no exception.

While in Germany, your personal information is not mandated by law it is advisable to include this information on your resumé as it is appreciated by prospective employers.

Apart from the above 3 differences, the layout of a resumé in Germany is similar to a US one. Your resumé should be presented in reverse chronological order with sections for your personal information (contact details), education and professional experience. Moreover, the same rules of resumé writing apply – make sure that your resumé is clear but impactful and easy to read. For more information on this, check out GeoWord’s recent blog on writing a compelling resumé. 

Remember GeoWord is more than a resumé writing and translation service! When working on your resumé we take into account the differences in job and cultural norms across multiple countries.

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