November 7, 2016

What requirements you need to know to apply across Europe and US!

Lisa Kirchmair

So, you’re thinking about applying for a job in a different country? You want an adventure, to keep learning and experience new things, people and places? Great idea – you should definitely do it! Nowadays, there’s huge advantages for our career after having worked in a different country. However, as you’re probably aware, there’s a few things you should know. First, learn what documentation you may need depending on the country and job role you’re applying for, there’s a bit of work in doing this, but ultimately it’s going to be essential if you want to land that dream opportunity to work abroad.  Most people who are thinking about working abroad haven’t had to consider some of the finer points in making a successful application.

Find below the essential differences regarding job applications across Europe and the US to help you land your dream job in a new country!

Source: Academy Cube

Differences in Job Application Requirements Across Europe and US:

    • Germany and Austria

      The first two countries we have a closer look at are Germany and Austria. What are the crucial points for a job application in these countries?

      In Germany and Austria recruiters normally demand a lot of documents: Beside your CV (“Lebenslauf”) and your cover letter (“Motivationsschreiben”), you also have to add your reference letters from previous employers, copies of your university diplomas and other certificates, including school graduation and where relevant, even extra trainings or courses you’ve done (whatever is relevant you should be prepare it to share it).

      The information in the CV is usually highly detailed – however research indicates it shouldn’t exceed more than two pages. A professional CV should start with your personal information, indicating your first name, family name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, your nationality and marital status. Although the marital status is not compulsory recruiters could interpret silencing a divorce as a personal failure. Afterwards you should describe your education and work history. Particularly in Germany, it is essential you also indicate the grades you earned at school and university. When you list your work history, ideally you should explain fields of work, roles and responsibilities in all your former jobs. Like all contents in your CV, make sure your list your information chronologically in each category, however bear in mind it may be more compelling writing your cv in reverse order, e.g. your most recent qualifications and work history first in a descending order.

      Sometimes referred to as additional capabilities and skills, you are well advised to share important skills like languages and IT and management, where you have proficiency and experience which would be possibly valuable for your potential employer.  E.g. If you speak intermediate Spanish, this may be very useful for a range of companies in various countries who trade with Spanish speaking countries, e.g. Spain and Latin America. Other skills which can be vital yet easily overlooked are IT skills, project management capability, event management etc.  When mentioning these additional skills, you should indicate your experience, skill level and anything relevant which helps you differentiate your additional potential value to a new employer. Don’t underrate the importance of building your value proposition to a potential recruiter, who may otherwise only compare you with another candidate based on university qualifications only.

      Another important point to highlight is that you should try and avoid significant time gaps in your CV.  E.g. If there is a 5-month gap in your work history, think of ways you can explain it or show how you took advantage of that time you weren’t involved in any job or studies: For instance, it might be that you were learning another language, taking an online certificate, or mastering an additional computer skill.  The point is, try and reveal how you used your spare time to learn something new.

      A picture says a thousand words, so don’t forget to add a picture of yourself!  It makes your CV personal and puts a face to the name. Be sure to use a highly quality picture, which is professional and shows you in a good light.  In addition to a picture, sometimes your hobbies can also say a lot about your character and interests, so consider also sharing something about your personal interests, like a sport, arts, music and personal interests.  Of course, only share things which reveal something about you in an appropriate way.  Finally, for your CV, make sure your date and sign your CV (this point is more important for Germany than for Austria, though), it makes it official, and says your serious to a potential recruiter.

      The final point is that value and importance of a compelling cover letter.  Unlike the CV, it should more with less. In other words, less details and instead about you, your interest in the position, your aspirations, your goals and or your desire to work with that company.  In essence, a good cover letter should mirror your personality. A simple, yet elegant way to make a cover letter is to firstly refer to the job opening, then to express your interest in the company, a brief explanation of why you are applying and why you are the right person for the job: You can do this by describing your skills and the most important achievements you had in former jobs and how it matches their needs. Importantly share your potential start date, ask for an interview and sign the cover letter.

    • Spain

      Many of us love the prospect of working in Spain, let’s face it, cultured, sophisticated, warm and very exotic, Spain is an extremely popular destination country: imagine working in Spain and enjoying endless tapas in the warm Spanish evening sun! Great place to dream about, but what’s the best way to apply for a job there?

      In Spain, recruiters just ask for the CV (“Curriculum Vitae”) and a cover letter (“Carta de presentación”), the good news is that other certificates normally aren’t necessary unless recruiters ask for them. Therefore, the CV is the crucial document in your application and you have to make sure it is calling the recruiters’ attention immediately.

      The content of the CV and the cover letter is quite similar for the one you’d prepare for Germany and Austria (as discussed in our last post): The CV starts with your personal information, qualifications, professional and work experience, along with your additional skills and capabilities. Importantly, for Spain you should also indicate your ID or passport number. Regarding your education and former jobs, list them in chronological order but add only the information which is really relevant for the job you are applying for.

      With one thing you definitely can score in Spain: language skills. For Spanish companies it is a plus if you speak not only Spanish but if you also possess good knowledge in other languages, like English or German for instance.

      You also should add a picture to your CV. However, you don’t need to add your hobbies or indicate your grades. A signature isn´t required neither.  Finally, in the cover letter, once again you should share your qualities, aspirations and interests, as well as your desirability for their company, however make your qualifications as the strongest focus. Of course, never be afraid to highlight your skills, capabilities and also what you are really good at!

    • France

      When you are searching for a job in France the application consists of your CV and your cover letter, other documents are not necessary.

      First of all, make sure that your CV is of high quality regarding the format, structuring and presentation. Recruiters in France are paying a lot of attention to those details.

      Your experiences should be described shortly in your CV: skip details which are not important for the job and highlight the most important experiences in your CV. The skills employees are very interested in are your language skills where you should give more information about where you learned a foreign language and whether you have already used it in other jobs. Indicate your name, address, age (instead of date of birth), mobile phone number, marriage status and nationality.

      Whether you add a picture to your CV or not is up to you since it is not obligatory. You also can choose if you want to indicate your information chronologically or in reverse order. It is not usual to sign or indicate the date on your CV. Grades are not important, but hobbies are, because they reveal much about the personality of an employee, which is of high importance for French employers.

      You want to know a secret of how you can stand out of the crowd with your application in France: you can do this by adding your „projet professionnel“. In this section you explain your professional future expectations you have.

      Regarding the cover letter: Originally it was very common for the cover letter to be handwritten, because your handwriting was analyzed by a graphologist to get to know more about your personality. However, recently more and more companies also ask for a computer written “lettre de motivation”. The content is similar to the other countries: Referring to the job opening and also indicating your reasons why you are applying for the job.

    • England

      Moving north can be another life-changing experience.  Let’s now have a closer look applying for positions in England and or the UK.

      In the English CV you see one striking difference already in the beginning: it includes a short description of your “Profile” or your “Career objectives”. The Profile is a short description of your personality and your characteristics, your skills and working experience. In the section of Career Objectives, you include a few sentences about the position you would like to work in, what you want to reach in a new job and what your expectations of your future company are.

      Another crucial point for England is that the information about your education and working experience is given in reverse chronological order, meaning that you indicate your latest experiences at first place

      It is not very common to add a picture to your application, neither employment certificates or your signature to your CV

      Another interesting point for the job application in England is the following: Companies will often send you an ‘application form’, after they’ve heard from you, you enquired and or you applied directly. It is usually a questionnaire from the company itself where more details about you and your career progression are asked, and the idea behind it is to standardize the collection of information about each job candidate.  It doesn’t mean you don’t need a CV, however more often you will complete an application online and even upload your certificates and documents into a specific website, which is used by employers to electronically arrange potential candidates against set criteria specific for the role and or business.

    • United States

      Let’s see how job applications in the United States look like and how much different it looks compared to the UK!

      One striking point is the change from the “curriculum vitae” to the “résumé”. The difference is that the resume is much shorter than the CV – be careful that it shouldn’t be longer than one page. Basically, in the résumé you are giving a summary of the most important points of your career. In comparison, a “curriculum vitae” in the USA includes all the information about you and is just used for applications for academic positions.

      A crucial characteristic for the United States is the anonymity of the resume: Indicating personal information is taboo due to strong Anti-Discrimination Laws. You should not give details about your religion, age, height, origin or marriage status. Also pictures should not be added. No employee wants to get suspected for hiring you just because of personal reasons.

      Regarding to the other information: A good advice is to focus on your last jobs or academic courses you made, since recruiters won’t see much importance in your activities you did some years ago. Also, just indicate the experiences which are relevant for the job you are applying for.

      In the United States your non-professional interests are of high importance: show in which associations you are participating outside work and specify your tasks. Especially community and charitable organizations, since it shows you are an all-rounder with extended interests beyond work and income.

      Essential for American’ positions is to ensure you have good references. Indicate, “references available on request” in the end of your resume since American companies like to get to know more about you through the help of a third party.

      You don’t have to add any documents to your resume and your cover letter unless the company asks you for a “complete dossier”. This dossier includes all the additional documents like certificates, reference letters and transcripts including all grades of your academic studies. Usually this can be done electronically and it often works in your favor to have certified or verified copies, since your details will almost certainly be verified, either by the company or a third party who specialize in authenticating your data.

      Furthermore, in the USA it is really important to take initiative. Be proactive, don’t hesitate to call the company before applying, it sends a powerful message about your intentions and interests. Do a little research about the company, it helps you if you know something topical and relevant, then present yourself as an interested candidate, ask about the job opening or potential ones and about the company itself – personal contact plays an important part in getting a job. A golden rule for the USA is to be bold, confident and assertive, it’s often considered a highly desirable trait many American companies.

Helfpful CV and language skills links for you:




Template I

Useful Spanish application language skills


Template I

Template II

Useful French application language skills

UK: Template

US: Template


Template I 

Usefull German application language skills


We hope you get some quick wins from this blog post, knowing the insights and differences of the Curriculum Vitaes and the cover letters from major countries across Europe and the US. The world is your oyster, go and claim your place in a new country!


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Topics: Job Application, Career, Resume