Whether it's our first application after our apprenticeship or studies, or our next leap forward in our professional career - every time we apply for a job, we have to have our documents ready and use them to advertise for us at the company. They are the first element that the company receives from us and that reveals something about us as a person and as an employee.
Complete vs. overflowing
The application documents must be complete, cover letter, curriculum vitae and certificates must be included. But already in this compilation we have to make sure that we only enclose relevant certificates. Sports certificates or, in the case of advanced professional experience, the school leaving certificate are definitely out of place. We must be aware that the number of certificates does not make the application documents more meaningful, but in case of doubt only provides the personnel officer with superfluous reading material and raises the question for him why the applicant submitted one or the other certificate at all. But what are the relevant certificates?
When it comes to career entry after graduation, the study certificate is important and also certificates that belong to internships or working student activities. If we already have a few years of professional experience, we only present the job references for the time after the studies. Unless e.g. an extensive internship at a competitor's company during your studies shows that we have very specific and interesting industry or product knowledge.
The quality of the curriculum vitae
Within the application documents the curriculum vitae is the core piece which the personnel manager will deal with the most, this paper after all gives a total overview of the career. It is not without reason that many experts say that the curriculum vitae should be limited to two pages, because here too it is a matter of convincing with quality and not with quantity. Ultimately, with the quality of our CV, we can, in a way, control and win the attention of the HR manager. We won't be able to do that with a resume that is simply overcrowded and, in the worst case, unstructured. We should not burden the human resources manager with the task of selecting the most important things from our curriculum vitae. On the contrary, we must prepare the information in such a way that he can immediately see how suitable we are for the vacancy.
The CV is about our qualifications, our experience and our skills. Some of these are simply hard facts that have to be presented:
Which school-leaving certificate do I have?
What kind of training have I completed?
What did I study? Where, with what focus and what degree?
Have I gained experience abroad through my studies or profession?
What language skills do I have and at what level?
What professional experience have I gained? In which industry and with which focus?
Have I acquired additional qualifications?
The two forms of the curriculum vitae
In order to always have an overview and not to forget anything in the case of an application, we can create a detailed version of our curriculum vitae. It contains everything from school, vocational training or university studies, including specialisations, to professional experience. We should already start with working student activities and internships and continue them until the current point in time. In addition, we include in this long version language skills, seminars and advanced trainings that we have attended, and hobbies. So just everything that belongs to us. We should always have this curriculum vitae up to date in order to be able to use it as a basis. In two years you may not remember exactly what the lecture series was called that you attended and for which there was no certificate of attendance. This long version serves as a basis for all further CVs, but should never be sent out.
Once we are in a position to apply for an advertised position, we can use this detailed standard CV to prepare our application for the hoped-for new job. And here we have to filter and sort accurately and appropriately. In order to match our CV to the job offer, we need to become aware of some aspects and deal with a few topics in advance.
What does the company I am applying for stand for? What is its philosophy and values?
In which area exactly is the position located? What are the possible interfaces?
Which qualifications and skills seem indispensable for the new job and why?
How can I differentiate myself from other applicants with respect to the vacancy?
Once we have answered such questions, we can begin to rebuild and adapt our CV accordingly. If our range of tasks in one position was very varied and covered several areas, but we are now applying for a position in marketing, for example, we focus on the presentation of marketing tasks and leave out the others or mention them less. If the new position is in an international environment, we must explicitly state in our CV that we had English as our working language in a previous position. If you see in the job advertisement that the candidate is offered further training opportunities in the future, this seems to be part of the corporate culture. In such a case we certainly score by mentioning seminars and workshops that we have attended (also privately). This shows interest, initiative and the will to broaden one's horizons.
All in all, it's not just about showing the company how great we are. Of course, the goal is to put yourself in a positive light and to shed light on your own abilities and qualifications. But in the overall view we have to be compatible: with the company and the culture, with the team, with the advertised position. We must represent added value for the company, because from the company's point of view, filling a position is always an investment. So we don't have to show in the interview but in our application documents that the investment in us is worth it and that in the end both sides win.