Facts & Tools

Tips for a successful CV for non-academic jobs

Form, structure and what about a photo? We will give you practical tips for your CV that will make it easier for the addressee to get a good picture of you.


If you are looking for information on academic CVs (e.g. for applying for a professorship), you can have a look at the webinar with Prof. Dr. iur. Hubert Detmer from the German University Association (German only). Such CVs are quite different from those for non-academic positions.

A CV should always be customized and some points are a matter of taste. However, some general tips will make it easier for the addressee to get a good picture of you.



  • A non-academic CV should be no longer than 3 pages, depending on your level of experience – pay attention to spacing and margins. Don’t squeeze too much information onto one page.
  • In general, keep a clear and concise layout – less is more. Meanwhile, the Word templates are not so bad, more creative templates you can find quite cheaply e.g. at Etsy.
  • Number the pages and put your contact details in the footer (or header) (this makes it easier to assign them).
  • Repeat the layout for your cover letter – the layout for the entire application should be consistent!
  • Have at least one person proofread.

Headline, Personal Details & Photo:

  • Put your name in the forefront instead of the term “CV” – it should be clear that this is a CV.
  • Include your contact info and, if applicable, your LinkedIn/Xing profile and/or website (check that these are well-maintained and up-to-date).
  • You do not have to enter your date of birth, nationality, marital status, or children.
  • A photo is still standard in Germany – you don’t have to have one, but if a search on the web turns up a photo, you can put one on the CV.
  • Attention: Invest in a good photo, now many photographers shoot headshots apart from posed application photos (if you like a photo with someone, ask who the photographer was).


A rough framework could look like this:

Summary (optional)

  • Who are you and what are your top skills, summarized in 5 lines

Work experience

  • Positions are entered here – no degrees, which you can enter under “Education”.
  • Start with the most recent position and work your way back chronologically.
  • For each position you should specify the period (month/year) and institution/location/country.
  • Positions also include Ph.D. and postdoc positions, often you are employed here as a research associate or similar.
  • Include in bullet points the most important tasks and achievements – highlight those that are relevant to the job and adapt your wording to the language of the job ad/organization (view website). Such keywords are especially important in case your documents are entered via an application portal and scanned for the relevant keywords.


  • Here you list your degrees, also the dissertation topic, and, if applicable, grades.
  • We recommend that only the closing month/year be reported on financial statements, with no periods.

Attention: the order of the following points is variable.

Languages / Knowledge / Further education

  • In addition to languages, highlight methodological skills or continuing education, if applicable, especially if relevant to the position.


  • List a selection if applicable – unlike the academic CV, you do not need to include everything.


  • Highlights relevant experience here such as committee work and other volunteerism.
  • You can also list very extensive commitment in your professional experience (e.g. you have founded an association, etc.).
  • If relevant to the post, explain the position with a few bullet points.

Selected publications

  • Include scholarly articles/talks, etc. only if the topics are relevant to the position or provide a sample of relevant publications.
  • Include non-academic publications.


  • Include this item only if you have special hobbies (you play bassoon in the orchestra or have run the Ironman…).

If you need assistance with your individual CV, we are happy to help.