I had it all set up.
It’s 2014 and I will soon start with my career program „MINT-Making your career in Germany“ for the very first time.
The batch was full to the last place.
13 international graduates from Paderborn University had made it through Masters. Now they were eager to learn how to find a job in Germany.
Now I just wanted to take a quick look at their CVs and then start thinking about our kick-off workshop.
I stared at my PC screen in horror.
Their CVs were very much different what I used to receive from candidates.I’ve never seen the EU CV template used by real candidates. They were as short as shrunken T-shirts after a hot wash. Names that don’t mean anything to me. The faces in little pictures, scary unfamiliar. No emotion, no facial expressions. Eyes that stare straight at me. Language skills with thousands of details, over half a page long – but hardly 3 rows about what they actually did in their last job. Self-esteem beyond all measure: all said to have team player, leadership skills and communication skills.
In my tummy the anxiety was spreading.
How was I supposed to work with such an unfamiliar, cold and presumptuous group? It could never and would never work!
In panic, I asked around who could help me with the interpreting. I knew that I needed to focus all my energy entirely on the group and its dynamics.
Next came the day of the kick-off workshop.
These young professionals were great!
They were the kindest, brightest and most communication-minded graduates I‘ ve ever met. Open minded, with excellent manners and with curiosity.
Could not be better!
A laid-back joy rose in myself on the 8 weeks together. I smiled.
The EU-CV is not made for applications in GermanyI’m afraid I’m quite German in my attitudes.
As an HR, recruiter and coach, I‘ ve usually worked only with German candidates. For many years I‘ ve had nothing to do with the Europass – Template in practical use.
For the last few years I‘ ve been viewing daily Lebensläufe in the EU CV Template.
But still, I‘ m more intuitive with the German CV format. Then I can understand the story and suitability of an applicant faster than I can drink a sip of coffee.
The CV is the most important document for many in the HR business, that is HR, recruiters and the managers. So to speak, the heart of an application.
Within 2-3 minutes, an experienced HR person decides whether the applicant will make it to the next round – or is out.
In the following I will name 5 reasons why not to use this EU-CV template. At least if you wish to enjoy the best chances of finding a job in Germany.
The EU-CV-template is an ideal of the European UnionYou know, Europe is not only a geographical entity, it‘ s very muh an idea as well. An ideal which has been worked on for many years and has brought peace and prosperity to the countries and citizens of Europe for years.
One aspect of the European idea is that the countries join forces and align at many different levels. This helps to support the cooperation of many different parties. The magic word is transparency and uniformity.
The EU-CV has its place in this picture of a single European labor market.
It makes the transnational employment of European workers for employers much easier. It’s such a great idea, but in doesn’t work for Germany.
Nobody in Germany knows the EU templateThe German companies are not familiar with the template. Well, let’s say most of them.
Why? It may be that one reason is that almost all companies (99.3% !) in Germany belong to the group of small and medium-sized enterprises.
Could also be that only a few companies (I suppose less than 10% of the companies in Germany) have English as their working language.
Besides, we don’t get to know the EU-CV template generator at school. Instead the teachers explain the CV in its ‚German style‘ and we use it in our first application for an internship in the 9th grade. Later, when applying for studies or training, we revise our curriculum vitae. A new photo, a different font – but those are only small fashion changes. We stick to the basic structure.
We stick to the German style of a CV. And those who make a career in HR stick to it, as well.
We’re all imprinted on the scheme. Just like little geese are imprinted on their mother goose.
Only foreigners use the European CV template
If you have seen the first points above, it makes sense. After all, the German applicants apply in the same way as they have already learned at school. German style.
So what effect on the recruiter will an application with a CV in the EU template have?
Oh right. The effect of the EU CV is like a neon post-it note on the CV with „I. AM. NOT. GERMAN!“
This is what you must avoid like hell. The nationality is not relevant, but it controls perception, and highlights the difference between German and non-German.
Every HR, every manager knows: Nationality doesn’t write code, doesn’t finish documentation and doesn’t meet deadlines. It is not relevant. And yet it controls perception, and highlights the difference between German and non-German.
Many recruiters only have 2-3 minutes to check a CV. I know I repeat myself and am sorry for this. It’s more important to keep in mind than brushing your teeth in the morning.
Only 2-3 minutes, not more. You better use this tiny moment to showcase that you can help solving the companies problems.
To make the HR stick a real post-it note on the application with „Invite to interview“.
Differences between EU CV template and a CV in the German styleLooking at my desk, I put the EU CV and the normal German CV next to each other and search for the obvious differences.
Difficult to think they have such an impact on HRs.
Well, there are some differences.
First, the Layout is different. The sequence of the data. The specification of language skills is longer than any description of job experience. Many CVs exceed two pages.
Seems to be self-explanatory that the differences are not quite so dramatic. So why all this fuss?
Which brings me to the most important aspect of all:
The template hides your uniquenessYou know how a generator works. It’s a machine that structures the data according to fixed rules.
Made by the EU CV template generator the CVs look pretty much the same, same color, same spacing, same fonts.
If your saying, hey, that’s great, then that‘ only part of it.
Ja, it is easy to hack your information into the generator and print it out. All you need to do then is to print it out as pdf and email it to a company.
But I would like to make you understand how important it is for you as an applicant to distinguish yourself from your competitors for the same position.
To prepare a CV that sets you apart from the many others, is so important! When the recruiter is reading your CV you want to be the very hero in the limelight! Your profile should be as enticing that they directly call you.
A strategic CV has much in common with marketing.
It‘ s about influencing the perception of the reader.
Who on earth can read your CV and gets it all? It takes more than a night out to understand the full depth of your story and why you’re unique suited for a position.
You want to highlight your strengths in a helpful way, hit the spotlight on one or two of your talents.
At the same time, push every piece of information, that might irritate, into the background. Make your weaknesses look insignificant. You can explain everything later in the interview, but only if you’re invited.
The art to showcase uniqueness by the use of a CV generator is impossible.
Unless you can square the circle.
The more experience you have, the more unsuitable the EU CV template
Work experience is great.
It makes you a sought-after expert.
But alas, alas … the dark side: Your work experience doesn’t fit into your CV.
Think of the plenty of information that has accumulated in your life. A multitude of business experience, managed projects and work done.
Have you ever tried to make a condensed summary of everything you have learned, mastered, applied, achieved, managed and accomplished in a period of 2-3 years on the job?
Then you know what I’m talking about. It is tough. It’s impossible.
It’s so difficult to put it into words (if one can remember at all). And what out of this huge hodgepodge could interest an HR or manager in other companies? What’s relevant? What should you write?
And does a third party (an HR or recruiter) understand what you are good at? You and I know, that if you‘ re like all the others, you will not get the job.
How it is possible to get a job by following the standard application process, that I often wonder.
Because isn’t there always someone better? Always someone who finished studies faster. Or with better grades. Is wittier, more eloquent, more experienced, right?
You have only one chance. You win and succeed through individuality. The challenge is to market yourself and consider your CV as a brochure.
And this is where we come to a huuuge disadvantage of the EU-CV-Generator.
The generated template is not handy
The generator is a machine. If you decide to follow your own rules writing your CV the generator won’t allow it.
How does the work on the template generator look like anyway?
It goes like this: You open the EU-CV via your browser and enter your data. The generator guides you through the document and helps you not to forget any data.
Then you save. If you want to apply to a vacancy, you download your CV as a pdf document.
It’s always possible to add more data to your CV. Your work cannot get lost because it‘ stored in the cloud, which is handy.
It only gets complicated when you want to make changes to the layout and add a spice of marketing to your profile.
Then you want to download the CV in word format on your PC. There you can make as many adjustments as you like and save them.
Be aware that the changes are only saved in the word document and not in your word document. I know it’s pure logic, but you’ll get my point when you try to jiggle with two formats for a longer period of time. I’ve been there….
The evern bigger problem, at least for me: This word document you have created is a word document only by necessity. It was never intended to be a word document!
The word-format is tricky to handle!Whenever you add sentences or to delete a few words, the layout will change. Something slips, font size changes on its own or enumerations vanish by magic. I’m sure that a patient person may master these challenges in no time. But not me, as it just drives me crazy.
I consider it to be way faster to create your own CV with a word processor, like word for windows or google doc right from the start.
You are a fan of LaTeX? Me and my clients have tried this format a couple of times, but most candidates switched to Word later on. The reason is that LaTeX helps with academic texts that have one ongoing structure, but makes an adjustment here and there rather arkward.
Your next step
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Do you want to know how you get the recruiters to call you?
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