The Berlin Life

How much personal information should you include in your CV?

publishedabout 1 month ago
3 min read

Happy Sonntag [FIRST NAME GOES HERE] -

We're back today with some honest and real advice about looking for work in Germany, inspired after we read and viewed some content that shocked and dismayed us.

There are a lot of outdated German CV guides, as well as unqualified content creators with zero background working as a recruiter and/or hiring manager, who irresponsibly dole out inaccurate advice about what personal information to include on your German CV. They tell you that by including all of this information, it will increase your chances of finding a job in Germany.

Let me tell you, this is 100% blatently false and completely untrue.

While there are many things you can do to increase your chance of finding a job in Germany, including unnecessary personal information on your CV may actually result in you not getting hired due to blatant discrimination (which is a very real thing in this country). I frequently work with recruiters and have worked as a hiring manager and I can tell you with total confidence, that telling a potential employer your age or whether or not you're married is NOT going to get hired.

It's so frustrating to see people pretending to be experts, giving out unhelpful and seriously wrong advice like this.

What type of personal information do publications and people advise you to put on your CV?

  1. Photo
  2. Gender
  3. Date of birth
  4. Marital status
  5. Number of children you have
  6. Nationality

Let's start with the personal information what you should NEVER put on your CV. There is no need to provide your gender, date of birth, the number of children you have, or your marital status. This has zero relevance when you're applying for a job and supplying this information only provides more opportunity for potential employers to discriminate you during the recruitment process.

I know countless women who apply for jobs in Germany, who don't reveal they have children or are recently married. People over the age of 40 have more difficulty finding a job than their younger counterparts and go to great lengths to not disclose their age. Why do they do this? Because they will be less likely to get hired if they share this information and sadly, study after study supports this.

Think about it. Does your age or marital status affect your ability to do a job well? How will it increase your chance of finding a job if you put this data on your CV? Adding it actually encourages and makes discrimination more acceptable and commonplace.

So whatever you do, discard the bad advice out there and DO NOT include this information on your CV. Seriously, I cannot stress this enough.

What about the other personal information we referenced above? Including your nationality or photo on the CV is optional, as including this information can also result in discrimination.

While adding your nationality to your CV can potentially be helpful, as it clues a recruiter or hiring manager into whether or not you need relocation and visa support, they may also choose not to hire you because of this. If they can hire someone in Germany or someone from the EU and skip the extra waiting times and avoid the added costs, that's the route they're more likely to pursue. Why not wait for the first interview once you've made a good impression and honestly answer the question at that time?

Adding a photo is another tricky issue. It's widely practiced and normal for people to add their photo to their CV, not just in Germany but everywhere. This is not a unique practice in Germany, as they would have you believe. These days, there's not many LinkedIn profiles where you don't see a photo.

But do you really want to land a job because of how you look? Even worse, do you want to not get a job because of how you look? The company I work for actually asks people to submit job applications without a photo to reduce both unconscious and conscious discrimination during the hiring process. This is a practice I really like and highly endorse!

Certainly there are some professions where providing a photo is necessary, like acting and modelling, where it makes sense. But if you work in any other profession, how you look shouldn't factor into whether or not you should be hired over someone else.

Of course discrimination can still occur when they see you in person for the first time, but why not reduce the bias as early on as possible and have employers contact you based on your skills, knowledge, experience, and more?

If you do decide to feature a photo on your German CV, keep it professional looking and/or aligned with the general culture of the companies to which you’re applying. Typically, a simple head shot does the trick. I’d also recommend keeping your photo on the small side and not something that takes up an entire page of your CV. Such a prominent and large photo can come across as a bit too much (aka self-centered and egotistical), unless you’re applying for job where such photos are commonplace.

What do you think about this advice? If you have questions and want to discuss this topic more, join our Facebook group. As always, head to website for even more resources about moving to Berlin and finding work.

💖 Until next time!

Founder - The Berlin Life

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