Applying in the UK / US
The following tips refer to an application written in English for an English-speaking country. Applications for Germany that are written in English should be structured according to the German application standards.
Curriculum Vitae (CV)
In general, the same rules apply to a CV in English as in German - in both cases it is particularly important to have a clear presentation and a clear uniform structure.
Nevertheless, you should take note of a few special features when applying for a job in English-speaking countries.
CV or Résumé?
A CV (Curriculum Vitae) contains, similar to the German "Lebenslauf", all the information and stages of a career and is still used today mainly for positions in science in English-speaking countries.
For applications to companies in the USA, and now also in the majority of other English-speaking countries, a résumé is usually required, i.e. a summary of the most important information for the position in question. Please note that in Great Britain the term "CV" may be used, but a CV in the style of a résumé is still desired. The decisive factor here is above all the objective of your application - business or science.
Layout and Format
- While German sometimes uses design elements such as coloured highlights or graphic elements, CVs and résumés are usually kept very simple and reduced to the essentials. Emphasis is possible, for example, with italic, bold, underlined text, larger fonts or capital letters.
- The page margins of an English language CV should be the same size everywhere and at least 2 cm wide.
- The standard format for documents in the USA is not A4, but "letter" format. You should therefore adjust this setting in Word accordingly (page layout ⇒ format ⇒ Letter).
Name, contact details
- The name appears as the title of the document and is slightly larger than the rest of the text ("CV" or similar is not mentioned). The contact details are given immediately below the name. This includes e-mail and telephone number. Remember to include the appropriate country code if necessary. In addition, online profiles such as LinkedIn can also be added here. The postal address is not necessary.
- In contrary to the German curriculum vitae, you should never give personal data such as date of birth or marital status. You should also avoid adding a photo - especially in the USA.
- In the USA, only the graduation date (month and year) of the study, not the study period, is usually given. If the studies have not yet been completed yet, one writes "expected" and specifies the month and year of the expected graduation.
- The topic of the thesis as well as study contents such as seminars and lectures ("relevant coursework") can be specified if they are related to the job.
- If you want to indicate your (current) grade point average, please note the differences in the grading system of your target country and, if necessary, provide conversions to avoid misunderstandings (e.g. 1.0 in the German system corresponds to 4.0 in the American system).
- Once you are in the master's program, the school education is no longer specified.
- Practical experience can be summarized in the Résumé under a single heading, e.g. "Experience". Alternatively, they can be further subdivided into more specific headings - again adapted to the position - e.g. "Work experience" (for applicants with work experience), "Leadership experience", "Business experience", "Research experience". CVs could also contain additional sections, comparable to the German "Lebenslauf".
- To an even greater extent than in the German "Lebenslauf", the content of the résumé is adapted to the specific position. Experience and skills that are relevant to the position in question can be explained in more detail and with examples.
- Unlike in German, activities are not described in nominal style, but with the help of "action verbs". The language should be very specific. Concrete results of work, especially successes, are often quantitatively mentioned here.
- In spite of the more detailed description of activities, no whole sentences and no personal pronouns are used.
- You can follow the following structure for the structure of your job descriptions:
- (Action verb) conducted
- (Project) research on competitive products in the electrical drives industry
- (Result) to serve as a benchmark for (company xy)'s e-drive development
Knowledge & Interests
- Language and IT skills are usually mentioned very close to the end of the document.
- In addition to hobbies, voluntary work can also be mentioned in this section, if there is no place in previous sections.
- No certificates will are sent with English language applications. Instead, references ("Referees") with name, position and contact details can be mentioned at the end of the CV. Nowadays, references are often no longer given for applications outside the field of science. Nevertheless, you should have references available to which you can refer on request. If no references are mentioned in the CV, the reference "References available upon request" can also be dropped.
- "Career Objective" / "Personal Profile": Optionally, a concrete and individual summary of your profile or the objective of the application can be formulated at the beginning of the résumé, if there is space for it on the page.
The requirements for a cover letter written in English are largely the same as those for a German one. However, there are some special features here as well.
- When writing the cover letter, please note that the standard format for documents in the USA is the "Letter" format and adjust the setting in Word.
- In Great Britain, the sender address is formatted right-justified. The name of the sender is not mentioned. In the USA, the sender is left-aligned by default. In both cases, you can alternatively use a header line for the sender data.
- The date appears between the sender and the recipient; left-justified in the USA, left- or right-justified in Great Britain.
- For the recipient, the contact person, if known, is named before the organization.
- A subject is not absolutely necessary. If a subject is specified, in the USA it comes either before the salutation (as in German) or after the address. In Great Britain, the subject is always named after the salutation, i.e. before the actual text of the letter.
- In the American system, the salutation is followed by a colon. In Great Britain, a comma is used.
- In the introduction, please state the reason for your letter, the title of the job description and how you found out about it. If you have already had personal contact with the company, you should also mention this here. Ideally, you should also briefly state why you are the perfect match for this position.
- In the main section, you will discuss your professional, practical and personal qualifications for the job, similar to the German cover letter, and give examples of each. You should also use action verbs here.
- In the final part, you thank the applicant for his/her time and consideration of the application and express the wish to get to know each other in an interview.
- Address a specific contact person with your cover letter and end it in Great Britain with "Yours sincerely". If your cover letter is not addressed to a specific person ("Dear Sir or Madam"), end it with "Yours faithfully". In the USA you can use "Sincerely" in both cases. Greetings like "With best regards" are also possible. There is always a comma after the greeting formula.
- You do not have to add your name at the end of the letter by hand.