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German vs American Resume Formats: Getting Noticed by the Hiring Manager

rw-admin | 02/13/2017

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As recruiters, we often see resumes from candidates outside of the US looking for jobs in the “land of opportunity.” Aside from immigration hurdles, it is important to start with a good resume in the appropriate format.

Major differences come into play surrounding tone and style when comparing an American and German resume.  Much of the information found on German resumes is taboo in the US, such as age, photos, sex, height, weight, family status or ethnic origin. In fact, it is illegal for American employers to ask about these attributes. Instead of providing this type of information on your resume, I would advise adding a line indicating what type of Visa you possess, as American employers need this information when hiring foreign employees.  More about the different types of visas:

Another note to keep in mind is that in Germany candidates expect a reply to their application. Candidates have gone to a lot of work to compile their CV package, incurred costs to bind and use high quality bond paper for their documents. As a result it is viewed as common courtesy to receive a reply to each submission. In the US some companies provide some sort of standard reply, but often it is overlooked because of the volume of resumes received in the recruiting process.

The Format:

The format of American resumes is compact and precise. As a general rule, the resume should not exceed more than one or a maximum of two pages containing only relevant information. Only list the highest level of education completed. Personal interest or hobbies should only appear if relevant. Be sure that there are no gaps in the details on your resume, making your current personal situation very clear to the hiring manager.


A resume should begin with a paragraph in which the candidate’s qualifications are summarized. This introduction often consists of a single sentence from which the reader immediately sees with whom they are dealing. Such a sentence can be: “Loyal, diversely-capable Manager and business leader with 26-year history of success in Sales and Marketing, Operations, Supply Chain Management, Business Development, and Purchasing…”

Summary and Experience:

The introductory sentence or paragraph is followed by a summary of the professional experience. Here, in a few bullet points, the qualifications relevant to the intended position should be listed.

Instead of writing that you worked at the company XY as a PR boss, refer to the outstanding achievements of the position. This short list should confidently contain the strengths of the applicant; “skilled negotiator” for example, or “successful in employee motivation.” Use power words such as: analyzed, collaborated, invented, advised etc.

The summary is followed by a chronological list of occupational stations (professional experience) starting with the most recent or current position going back, typically not further than 10-15 years. When listing the company name, it is advisable to briefly mention what industry this company is in and what service is provided. Add your title and a list of tasks and responsibilities for each position. It is always necessary to have the requirements of the desired position in view.

Training and Degrees:

The final section should list education and relevant training. This section is usually brief. Only university degrees and vocational qualifications, including the degree or title and the year of completion should be listed. Grades or completed courses are not relevant, unless a focus of study was a direct qualification for the intended position.

Additional Information:

The conclusion of the resume is activities considered to be relevant. You are relatively free in what you want to specify. This can be an award or an honorary commitment. Additional qualifications that might be useful should be mentioned in any case, such as foreign languages or special software knowledge.

America is certainly still the “land of opportunity,” but it is important to acclimate to cultural differences both personally and professionally in order to be successful.  Revising the resume writing method will better assist the chances of being recognized by US hiring managers and ultimately landing the desired position.

Written by: Silvia Gray, Account Executive The Q Works Group