Curriculum Vitae

Human resources managers and executives have a large number of applications ahead of them and little time. Therefore the CV is read first, which takes only 2-3 minutes. Only if the CV seems interesting will the cover letter be read and the applicant considered.

This means that the CV is the core of your application. Pay particular attention to this and plan sufficient time. Once the curriculum vitae has been created in a clear and well-structured manner, changes - e.g. in the job descriptions - can be made quickly.

There is no standard for application documents in Germany. Nevertheless, a number of principles have been established which should be followed according to one's own career, the position aimed for and the company. 

There is therefore no fixed standard for the CV. A clear presentation is usually achieved by considering the following points:

  • The CV should be written in reverse chronological order (newest events first), the reverse order (oldest events first) is outdated.
  • Scope: 1-3 pages
  • Choose a uniform and consistent formatting in design and structure


  1. First line: Company name/university, place (e.g. bold)
  2. Second line: Activity/Study
  3. Third line: Tasks/study contents in key points
  • The curriculum vitae as well as the cover letter should be adapted to the respective job description. Especially in the tasks description, you have the possibility to focus on the relevant tasks and leave out less relevant ones.
  • Same font and size as in the cover letter
  • Font: Choose a classic, easy-to-read font such as Arial, Calibri or Verdana.
  • For international students at KIT the Studierendenwerk Karlsruhe offers a free German proofreading service.

Curriculum Vitae - Structure

You can find below different sections which can appear as bullet points in the curriculum vitae. Please note that a section is only included if you can actually fill it with content. The order may also change if it makes the CV clearer. Please click on the corresponding term to get more information about the topic: 

Under the heading "Personal Details" you should list in tabular form your personal information and contact details. You can also place a part of your personal information - the contact details - in a one headline. Choose a smaller font size and a grey font colour and you have a kind of letterhead that will reappear in this form in the cover letter.

In Detail:
  • Information relevant to the employer, especially contact details (address, telephone, mobile phone, e-mail)
  • Confession, information about parents, etc. are not mentioned
Voluntary information:
  1. Date and place of birth 
  2. Marital status
  3. Children: voluntary indication - nevertheless: do you want to work in a company that does not know that you have children?
  4. Nationality


  • Not relevant for job starters
  • Doctoral students should indicate here their scientific activities that they perform in addition to their doctorate so that they can be recognized at a glance as experienced applicants
  • A current activity/further training at this point can cover up gaps
  1. Company name, place
  2. Type of activity, department
  3. Tasks in 3-4 keywords: here you specify the tasks relevant for the vacant position


Again, you should consider which parts may be particularly relevant to your current application. It can be quite useful to include a seminar that is appropriate to the subject. Exchange Semesters at a foreign university are also included under this point.

Structure (Example):
  • University, location: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe
  • Degree course, degree, specialization: Master's degree course in Industrial Engineering & Management, specialization: Marketing & Automotive Engineering
  • Title of the thesis: Topic of the master thesis: "Development of ..."
  • Exceptionally, seminars if they are relevant to the specific post.

All internships and qualifying secondary occupations are listed under this title. For a large number of activities, internships & part-time jobs can be listed separately.

Structure (Example):
  • Company name, Place: Siemens AG, Erlangen
  • Type of activity, department: working student in the marketing department
  • Tasks in 2-3 headwords (important - without this information it is not clear what you have learned there) developing marketing plans, collaboration in the design of the homepage 

In the case of professionally experienced applicants and doctoral candidates, reduce and shorten here, depending on how professionally experienced the applicant is or how long the CV is.

Note: Internships as part of studies, i.e. curricular practical exercises, are usually not considered practical experience in the strict sense and are therefore not mentioned in the curriculum vitae.


Keep it short and to the point to avoid gaps.


  • Name the final degree
  • Exchange stays, if possible
  • Without primary school!
  • If school education is listed separately from studies at this point, there is usually more space on the first and most important page for relevant internships or similar.

Further education courses that do not fit under the item study can be listed here. This point is often dropped for students.

  • For reasons of clarity, it may be useful to subdivide the knowledge, e.g. into programming languages, operating systems, other software, etc.
  • An assessment of IT skills is not absolutely necessary, but may be useful - depending on the position and department. In this case, give an honest self-assessment.


If you do not have any certificates, try to make an honest assessment. If a foreign language is an important requirement for the job - e.g. due to travel abroad - you must expect to be asked questions in the corresponding foreign language during the interview

  • Assessment required
  • Also possible: Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR)
  • Specify TOEFL test or similar
  • Native language German: not usually mentioned*Language and IT skills can also be listed at the level "Other skills
The following levels are possible:
  • Mother tongue
  • Confident in discussions: discussion of complex topics possible
  • Fluent (spoken and written): communication is possible without any problems
  • Very good
  • Well
  • Basic knowledge
  • A1 and A2 - Elementary language use
  • B1 and B2 - self-reliant use of language
  • C1 and C2 - Competent use of language

* Exception: it may be helpful to indicate German as mother tongue:

  • In case of a foreign sounding surname
  • Or if you grew up recognizably abroad

The indication of selected publications is optional when applying for a position in business - unlike in science. The scope of the presentation of publications depends on the type of position you are applying for. In general, the closer the targeted position is to basic research, the more important it is to indicate publications. Especially when applying for a position in a research department, the indication of (relevant) publications is explicitly desired. In most cases, the employees of these departments have themselves completed their doctorates and are very good at assessing the relevance of publications.

The selection of publications should be based on the relevance of the topic to the position desired. Publications that may be of limited technical relevance, but have been published in renowned journals, can also be listed.

You can maximally name 3-4 publications directly in your CV. If you have other relevant publications, it makes sense to present them in a separate document (e.g. with the title "Publications"). Again, it is important to mention only a selection of relevant or interesting publications - an excessively long list of all possible and irrelevant publications is a no-go.

  • Describe university groups, if applicable activity
  • Active club memberships, e.g. treasurer, chairman
  • For example Scholarship holder Deutschlandstipendium


  • Honest interest of the company to learn something personal about you
  • An opportunity: Can be a starting point for a personal conversation


References are optional when applying for a job in business - unlike in science - but can be a real advantage there, too, especially if it is to be expected that your reference is known in the company. They are mostly expected when applying abroad or for a career in science. Mention the reference person in the CV.

The reference itself can be made in different ways:
  • Provide contact details of the reference provider, if he or she has agreed to this procedure
  • Name, title etc. & "on request" or
  • Name, title, etc. & include a letter of recommendation (comparable to a certificate)
Who can provide a reference?
  • Former supervisors 
  • Supervisor* of the final thesis/doctoral thesis

Important: Make sure you clarify in advance with the reference provider whether he or she is willing to provide a reference about you.


A complete curriculum vitae requires a signature. You thereby guarantee the correctness of your information. You can scan your signature and use it multiple times. Remember to update the date on your CV with each new application.

Curriculum Vitae - Application Photo

Please use only a professionally taken photo. Who look through piles of applications or click through emails, will quickly recognize the difference between a professional photo and a good photo taken by an amateur.

  • Hardly any company representative will tell you openly, but: A sympathetic, friendly and professional photo can have a positive effect on the evaluation of your application.
  • Placement: Alternatively on cover page or CV (not double)
  • Black and white or colour: both possible examples 
  • Choose appropriate clothing
  • Friendly expression

Layout and formatting

Layout and formatting are essential design elements of the résumé. The rule here is: the clearer and more uniform, the better. Because a clear arrangement of the information and the use of uniform spacing, fonts, font sizes, bold type, etc., make the résumé more readable and understandable.

From time to time it can happen that application documents are not checked first by a person in the HR department, but by an applicant management system. In such a case, so-called CV parsers are used, which automatically search for predefined terms in the résumé and compare them with the job posting. In order for the system to deliver good results, it is important to consider a few points when creating the résumé:

A one-page résumé usually has more than two columns, which are often formatted differently. This makes it difficult for CV parsers, as they often scan from far left to far right. Discontinuous information in different columns is therefore often mixed up. With a two-column curriculum vitae (1st column: time; 2nd column: content) and possibly a multi-page résumé, you are doing everything right.


However, if you have been working for a company / institution in various functions for a long time, you should state this clearly.

  • Example:

10.20XX - 09.20XX          ABC GmbH
                                           04.20XX – 09.20XX Master's degree in QRS 
                                          10.20XX – 03.20XX Intern in the area XYZ                                                                                                                                              

  • Better representation:

04.20XX – 09.20XX          ABC GmbH
                                           Master's degree in QRS
                                           - Simulation of GHI

10.20XX – 03.20XX          ABC GmbH
                                           Intern in the XYZ department
                                           - Analysis of DEF


Time information should always be given in the same format in the form MM / YYYY or MM.YYYY, otherwise it may not be possible to clearly identify them. The (expected) end date should also always be given. In the case of a current position or activity without a foreseeable end date, just state the start date, e.g. in the form "since 04/2021".


Use the term "final grade" for e.g. Abitur and completed studies. In addition, grades should be listed on a separate line and not be separated from the previous text by, for example, just a comma.

  • Abitur, grade 2,1     ►     Abitur
                                            Final grade: 2,1


To avoid misunderstandings, it is better to spell out terms; Unless the term is also used abbreviated in the job advertisement.

AI     ►     Artificial Intelligence


Text in connection with a letter-number combination (e.g. "English C1") causes problems for some CV parsers. It is better to write out the evaluation, e.g. "fluent" or "business fluent". In addition, each language should be listed on a separate line.

English C1, French B1     ►     Englisch: Fluent
                                                     French: Good knowledge

Bar charts, graphs or the evaluation of knowledge with asterisks, dots, etc. also cause problems for some CV parsers. A list with an evaluation of the knowledge in words ("good knowledge", "very good knowledge", etc.) is the better solution here.


Video tutorial for the Curriculum Vitae

Curriculum Vitae - Examples

The perfect application can look completely different for each applicant, new job or company. The structure of a curriculum vitae that fits a student may not be appropriate for another.Therefore, consider our sample documents as a suggestion, yours can look completely different - the main thing is that they are clearly arranged and the essentials can be understood quickly.