Writing a Europass CV – Part 2

The Europass CV provides a standardized but flexible CV template intended to be used all over Europe. In the first installment of our two-part article on how to write a Europass CV, we covered the optional photo, personal information section, targeted job or occupational field section, and the work experience portion.

In this article, we will cover the information that usually goes on the second half of the Europass CV. Remember that any section can be removed if it is not relevant, unless specifically noted below.

Now, let’s pick up where we left off:

5. List your education and training, also in reverse chronological order.
Since diplomas and degrees vary across Europe, this section is intentionally flexible. You can include anything from a vocational certification all the way up to a Ph.D.

As with the “work experience” section, you want to start by including the month and year when the training or education began and the month and year when you completed the educational or training requirements.

Then, write the full title of the diploma, certificate, degree, or qualification earned.

Next, provide an overview of the subjects you studied. We encourage you to use bullets, combine related subjects, and focus on subjects that are relevant to the position.

Finally, give the full name of the institution where you received the training. If applicable, give the full street address, including the country.

If the qualification you earned is categorized according to a national or international system, name the level within that classification system. If you’re not sure, ask the school or training center.

6. Start the “personal skills and competencies section” by detailing your language skills.
Start this section by listing your mother tongue or tongues. This refers to your native language or languages, which you learned to speak as a child. This information is required.

Next, if you know any other languages, assess your proficiency with each according to the standardized European language proficiency levels. There are six European levels of language proficiency, as described by the “Common European Framework of Reference: Learning, Teaching, Assessment.” They are labeled, from lowest to highest, A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2.

The most basic level is A1, which is described as follows:

  • Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

The most advanced level is C2, which is described as follows:

  • Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations.

The Europass CV template provides a table for you to assess yourself in terms of your listening, reading, spoken interaction, spoken production, and writing ability for each extra language you know. It is not uncommon for your abilities to be at different levels for the same language.

Please do not try to exaggerate your language skills! Many people in Europe are bilingual or multilingual, so your language skills may very well be tested at the interview.

7. Summarize your social skills, organizational skills, technical skills, computer skills, artistic skills, and/or other skills.
Each of the above categories has its own section on the Europass CV template. Social skills and artistic skills are defined in the everyday sense.

However, the difference between organizational skills, technical skills, and computer skills can be more subtle. Organizational skills are defined by the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training as related to the “coordination and administration of people, projects, and budgets.” Technical skills refer to “mastery of specific kinds of equipment, machinery, etc. other than computers, or to technical skills and competencies in a specialized field.” Computer skills, then, relate to the use of applications, software proficiency, and programming skills.

“Other skills” is a catch-all category for relevant hobbies, sports, and volunteerism.

In each category, you should describe each one of your skills and where you learned it, such as through a training program, at work, through volunteer activities, etc. You may remove any section that isn’t relevant to the position for which are you are applying.

8. Include your driver’s license(s) information.
If you have a driver’s license, list it here, along with the vehicle category. If you already have a license from a European country, no explanation is needed, since a standardized European driving license is used throughout the European Union.

9. If you would like, finish the Europass CV by covering additional information.
“Additional information” is another catch-all category for including bits and pieces that don’t fit elsewhere.

10. If you’re attaching any items to your CV, mention them in the “annexes” section.
If you’re attaching any items to your Europass CV, list them here. Generally, you do not want to attach extra materials unless requested or otherwise expected by the employer, since they will probably not be read.

That’s all!
Those are the basics of how to write a Europass CV. Check out the Europass website to see sample CVs. As you will see from the samples, most Europass CVs do not include all of the skills categories mentioned above-that would make for a pretty long CV.

As a final note, remember that the standard paper size across Europe is ISO A4 paper, which measures about 8.27 × 11.69 inches. Always print your Europass CV on high quality A4 paper.

In closing, while the Europass CV may seem a little formulaic to those used to creating highly individualized resumes, its simple, uniform style does allow it to express an applicant’s qualifications while minimizing the friction of cultural and language barriers. If you are planning to apply to jobs in multiple European countries, it is worth your time to write a Europass CV.


Europass CV Writing – Part 1

A Europass CV and knowing how to write them can help you apply for jobs throughout Europe. The Europass initiative was created by the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training in 2005 and presented as a system to standardize the job application process for citizens across Europe, especially young people looking for positions abroad.

Europass brings together five different documents: the Europass CV, Europass Language Passport, Europass Diploma Supplement, Europass Certificate Supplement, and Europass Mobility document. In parts one and two of this article, we will discuss how to write a Europass CV.

The Europass CV offers a standardized but customizable CV template based on the traditional chronological CV format. It gives you a set of subsections to choose from when you write it, but you can rearrange these, delete those you don’t need, or elaborate on those you want to emphasize. The typical Europass CV is two to three pages long. Because of its simplicity, the Europass CV can help transcend language and cultural barriers. You can download the Europass CV template from the official Europass website.

Now, we are going to provide an overview of how to write a Europass CV, starting with the information that usually appears on the first page:

1. If requested or expected by the employer, start with a photograph at the top.
Starting with a photograph on a Europass CV is optional.

However, this is a common practice in some European countries, so you may wish to include a photo if the employer requests one, or if this is expected in the area where you are applying for a position.

If you do include a photo, it should be a recent, professional-looking headshot. The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training suggests using the .jpg format.

2. Fill out the “personal information” section.
Start by writing your last name(s), preferably in small capitals, followed by your first name(s), preferably in lower case.

Below, include your address, or both your local and permanent address. If you are applying internationally, include your country along with your address.

Then, include your phone number or numbers. If you are applying in a foreign country, provide the country code along with your phone number. Follow the same guidelines with a fax number.

Finally, include your e-mail address or addresses. You can specify whether an address is professional or personal, but we recommend only listing a professional address.

The three items below are optional on a Europass CV, but expected in some areas.

You can include your nationality, followed by your date of birth in dd/mm/yyyy format, and your gender.

3. Briefly name your targeted job or occupational field.
This is a short version of what would be called an objective statement on a typical CV or resume. While these are quickly becoming obsolete in North America and are gradually falling out of style in Europe, they are still included on the Europass CV because it is based on the traditional chronological CV format.

You can use this space to provide the title of the job you’re trying to obtain, as long as it matches up with the position for which you are applying.

4. Provide your work experience in reverse chronological order.
In this section, each entry will start with the month and year you held the position, followed by your job title or the type of position you held, and your main activities and responsibilities.

If your education is more important than your work experience, as would probably be the case if you just graduated from college, move this section below your “education and training” section.

When it comes to activities and responsibilities, since the Europass CV is based on the traditional chronological CV, the focus tends to be more on duties and less on accomplishments, in contrast to modern CV writing guidelines. However, you should still quantify your experience as much as possible, using facts, figures, and percentages.

You should focus on the activities and responsibilities that are most relevant to the position for which you are applying. We recommend using bullets for easy readability.

For each company you worked on, provide a full street address, in tune with the guidelines for your personal address.

If relevant, you may also add the company’s phone number or fax number, using the same criteria for international numbers as above, along with the company’s e-mail address and website.

Finally, include the name of the sector that each company is part of. The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training provides the following examples:

  • Transport and logistics
  • Auditing
  • Manufacturer of motor vehicle parts

Stay tuned for part two of Europass CV Writing…
In the second part of this two-part article, we will cover the information that usually goes on the last page of a Europass CV, such as education and training, language skills, social skills, organizational skills, technical skills, artistic skills, and driving license(s).


European CV vs. U.S. Resume & CV Differences

It’s important to understand that the CV acronym, which refers to the professional document more formally known as the curriculum vitae, and has a very different meaning in the United States than it does in Europe. In this article, we’re going to look at the European CV vs. the U.S. resume and CV, noting some of the big differences along the way.

A U.S. CV is often a detailed document used to apply to academic, medical, research, and teaching positions. It is much more comprehensive than a U.S. resume, which is almost always one page long. The U.S. resume is used by most American job seekers.

This can all get confusing because the European CV is not quite like either the U.S. CV or the American resume. Additionally, sometimes Europeans will refer to the European CV as a resume, but the document they are talking about is not really the same as a U.S. resume.

Before we look at the differences between these documents, keep in mind that we are using the term “European” in an intentionally generic sense to refer to the shared business norms among primarily Western European countries. We do not mean to imply that the CV is exactly the same across Europe or that European countries are culturally alike. The term “European” is being used for simplicity’s sake to present a snapshot of what CV expectations generally are like in this region.

Now, here are 5 of the differences that stand out the most when considering the European CV vs. U.S. resume vs. U.S. CV:

1. Length.
According to Expect Talent, a U.K.-based recruitment company, the “ideal length” for a European CV is 2 to 3 pages. This is the length an applicant will get if they use the EU administration’s Europass CV.

An American resume, on the other hand, is usually a single page document.  A U.S. CV starts at 3 pages—20 pages would not be inappropriate for a seasoned professional!

2. Paper size for printed versions.
The European CV should always be printed on ISO A4 paper, the standard paper size used for many different types of business correspondence in most of the world. ISO A4 paper measures about 8.27 × 11.69 inches.

The U.S. resume and U.S. CV, on the other hand, should always be printed on American “letter size” paper. In the U.S., “letter size” paper is 8.5 × 11 inches. The exception would be an American acting resume, which is always printed on, or attached to the back of, a professional 8” x 10” headshot.

3. Personal information.
It is acceptable, although increasingly optional, to include some personal information on a European CV.

According to Alison Doyle, author of Alison Doyle’s Job Search Guidebook, many European CVs start off with the following types of information.

  • Marital Status
  • Age
  • Number of children (ages optional)
  • Personal Interests

Nationality and gender are also commonly mentioned on a European CV.

On the other hand, sharing any type of personal information on a resume, CV, or cover letter is considered very unprofessional in the US. The one exception may be gender, since it’s not uncommon for a person with a gender-neutral name such as Jessie, Dominique, or Casey to put the “Mr.” or “Ms.” honorific on their resume or CV to indicate their gender. But, this is always optional.

Now, some American resumes and CVs still mention personal interests or hobbies, but this is usually considered outdated in today’s highly competitive job market, unless the applicant’s hobbies are exceptionally relevant to the position for which they are applying.

The EU administration’s suggested Europass CV format is designed so that an applicant can put their nationality and date of birth just below their contact information.

4. High school information.
A European CV is always expected to contain some secondary school information, even if the applicant has an advanced college degree. On the other hand, a U.S. CV does not contain this information.

A U.S. resume may contain this information, but only if the applicant has not completed any college courses. Even this is sometimes considered optional. When it is included, it’s usually just the basics, in a format like this:

  • High School Name, City, U.S. State (Year of Graduation)

On a European CV, the type of high school information included varies by country. On a U.K. CV, the focus is on A Levels and O Levels, which are tests taken in secondary school that cover proficiencies in specific subjects.

The EU administration’s recommended Europass CV format is intentionally flexible when it comes to this section.

5. Photo.
A European CV will, in some countries, contain a photo, usually a professional-looking headshot. However, the European administration’s recommended Europass CV format doesn’t include this, which may be a sign that it is being phased out.

A U.S. resume or U.S. CV will almost never include a photo. Acting resumes and modeling resumes are exceptions.

Final thoughts on the European CV vs. U.S. resume vs. U.S. CV…
This is all kind of like how “football” in the U.S. refers to a sport with a lot of passing, catching, and tackling, while “football” in Europe refers to what would be called “soccer” in the U.S., a sport with a lot of kicking and running where no one but the goalie touches the ball. An American could end up feeling very embarrassed if they went to watch a “football match” at a party in England wearing a National Football League jersey and matching sweatpants! It’s important not to assume that English words will have the same meaning across English-speaking countries.

Stay tuned, as our next articles will cover how to work with various types of CV and resume formats.


Curriculum Vitae Tips

Curriculum vitae tips are general guidelines that can be applied to the art of writing a curriculum vitae. Keep in mind that different people will offer different curriculum vitae tips, based on their own preferences and what is popular in their academic fields. Rather than setting curriculum vitae rules in stone, the following article will present writing advice that should help the average professional improve their CV.

Before we start, if you don’t already know the basics, such as what an American curriculum vitae includes and  how it differs from an American resume, please read our introductory article on the curriculum vitae.

That said, here are 7 widely applicable curriculum vitae tips:

1. Do not include personal information such as age, marital status, or gender on an American CV!
If you search for “curriculum vitae tips” online, you will find articles that encourage you to write personal information on your CV.

This personal information might include:

  • Age
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Health status
  • Citizenship
  • Immigration status
  • Social security number
  • Gender
  • Religious affiliation
  • Marital status
  • Spouse’s name
  • Father’s name
  • Mother’s name
  • Children’s names

The websites that offer this advice are not talking about American curriculum vitae!

In some countries, not including information like this can actually hurt your chances of obtaining the position you want. In the United States, the opposite is true. There are many laws in place that make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of factors like age, sexual orientation, marital status, gender, religion, and disability. American employers are afraid of lawsuits. They do not want to see this type of information on your CV.

Including hobbies, on the other hand, may be OK, if they are relevant to the position.

2. Comply with the CV formatting guidelines of your future employer or school.
Some organizations and universities, such as Harvard University, have curriculum vitae tips or guidelines detailing their preferences for curriculum vitae formatting and structure. Obviously, you’re expected to follow them. Look for this on the university or company’s website first. If you’re still not sure what’s expected, check with them.

3. Separate your publications into sub-categories with appropriate headers.
If you have more than a handful of publications, it’s best to place them into separate categories. A huge laundry list of publications is a pain to read.

For example, Harvard’s School of Public Health looks for these sub-categories on a medical curriculum vitae:

  • Peer-reviewed publications
  • Books and monographs
  • Evidence of works in progress
  • Publication or development of educational materials
  • Relevant non-print materials
  • Published abstracts within the past 2 years (not mandatory)

Depending on your field, different sub-categories may be more appropriate. Come up with relevant curriculum vitae sub-categories that accurately describe your publications.

4. Make sure each category contains at least one item.
This is a bigger issue on a CV than on a resume, since a CV is supposed to be much more thorough. You don’t want to emphasize less developed aspects of your professional life, so try not to open a category for just one item, like a single award. Instead, try to place this stray item in a related category. You can change the names of categories to make it fit, as long as you stay within the boundaries of your future employer or school’s CV formatting guidelines.

5. Write out acronyms.
Using acronyms is also a common resume mistake, but it can get out of control on a CV, since so many acronyms are thrown around in academia. Unless it’s really obvious in context what an acronym stands for, spell it out. If you’re not sure whether it’s obvious, that means it’s not.

6. Keep jargon to a minimum.
Again, this is a common resume writing recommendation, but it’s even more important on the CV, since academic professionals use a lot of jargon. It is safe to assume people in your field understand technical terms, but heavy use of jargon on a CV can be confusing, not to mention obnoxious.

7. Update your curriculum vitae regularly.
Yes, this tip applies to the art of resume writing as well. However, since a CV is more detailed than a resume, you could set yourself back further by not updating your curriculum vitae regularly.

If you encounter an unexpected job opportunity, already having an up-to-date curriculum vitae will take some of the stress out of applying for the position. Plus, if you procrastinate when it comes to updating your curriculum vitae, you could forget important details regarding a lecture or committee responsibility.

So, update your curriculum vitae every three to four months, or at least whenever you achieve something significant in your field.

Again, these are general curriculum vitae tips that should help the average professional. It is up to you to understand the norms and expectations for CV writing in your specific field. Remember, if you don’t know, ask.