Advice to prepare your CV and covering letter for Austria

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Tatt
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Advice to prepare your CV and covering letter for Austria

Post by Tatt »

Hello,

I would like to provide a few suggestions I have observed on how to prepare your CV (resume) and covering letter for Austria. Most of my suggestions are actually good practice in my book, and only a few caveats are truly Austrian.

I have been a hiring manager in the past, and I occasionally consulted on prospective CV's (and candidates). Hopefully I can hopefully provide a useful perspective.

General starting points
  • The only requirement of a CV is to interest someone enough to read the covering letter
  • The only requirement of a covering letter is to make someone want to meet you in person
With this in mind your CV should be a paragon of hard facts; objective, experience, achievements, talents and interests. Your covering letter can be a more personal, but formal, introduction to your professional and academic history with direct reference to the position you are applying for. It should be rewritten for each application.


CV / Resume
Your CV is speed dating; it has 5 seconds to impress that you are worth reading and if it doesn't match the high standards of the competition it will not get a call back.

Formatting is paramount. First impressions count.
  • when formatting make sure that each text section is proportional to the last, and to the document as a whole. Print it out, pin it on a white wall and slowly walk up to it - from about two meters away to reading distance - you'll see if it looks good or if there are flaws
  • get a good head-and-shoulders professional portrait picture taken. Wear a suit, do your hair and when you feel good about your look go to one of the studio's around town - it costs about €15-€30 depending on options and format - you should have a small passport sized photo at the top of the page, next to or under your name.
  • personal touches and details are nice; when you moved to Austria, and why is a good one. interesting facts about a hometown or school (my old high school has two Nobel prize winners - both of whom had the same Physics master thirty years apart)
  • include nationality, date of birth, and optionally your parents professions - this is very Austrian but not a bad idea
Covering letter
This isn't speed dating; it's a long, candle lit dinner. You should try to draw the reader in to your successful and capable experience.
  • start with one sentence which job you are applying for, and where you found it (which newspaper, website, recommended by a friend, etc.)
  • write a personal introduction paragraph in two or three sentences (this will be pretty static for all jobs)
  • read the job advert word for word a few times over; write down all the adjectives and verbs on one paper and then write a paragraph of a personal or professional situation comprising each one word or phrase. This is the basis of your cover letter.
  • ask someone you trust to read each paragraph you just wrote and rate them in order of how good they are - enter them in the covering letter in that order (and discard any bad or uninteresting ones).
    When writing my cover letter I always wrote all the potentially relevant situations/stories which came to mind, then did something else for an hour or two, and finally came back re-read them and edited it into the final product. This process works for me, sometimes it's better to use a third party.
  • a short amusing situation or subtle joke in the last paragraph will help you stand out (I once wrote that after years of disliking skiing as a sport I now expect to be fully converted by living in Austria). This is only a good idea if you have a genuinely funny line - and always get it checked by someone else.
  • to ease the process I include a salary expectation and availability date in the covering letter - some people prefer not to, it's a personal choice but no one should waste their time
  • one side of A4 should be maximum for the cover letter
General check list
  • make sure everything is properly dated and formatted
  • use the same font and text size on both documents
  • sign or print-sign your covering letter
  • spell check everything at least 10 times
  • ask for advice from people you know, but don't accept their advice unless it feels right to you - it is a very personal document
  • when submitting by email print your word documents to PDF (install bullzip pdf creator) and attach those to a short formal email:
    "Dear sir,
    I would like to apply for the position xxx. Please find my CV and cover letter attached.
    Regards, etc."
A note on titles
In my experience titles (Magister, MSc, etc.) in Austria are less important to getting a job than they are in general society; housewives like the titles of their husbands but hiring managers can usually sort the wheat from the chaff - otherwise they don't stay as hiring managers for very long.


Working in English
If you're a foreigner in Austria you probably prefer English as your working language - say so. I applied to everything in English and stated that is my working language. Depending on your chosen profession there likely to be a lot of companies which use English as their working language. A good start is usually the international companies, for obvious reasons. If you really want to have a career in Austria however it will be difficult to proceed indefinitely without solid Deutsch.


Example
Simple young person CV:
http://www.vienna-expats.net/images/sam ... xample.pdf

Profession manager CV:
http://www.vienna-expats.net/images/sam ... xample.pdf


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Re: Advice to prepare your CV and covering letter for Austri

Post by WienA »

James Clooney :laughing_purp:

Love it

I nominate Tatt for a UN award, OK the Oscars, OK anything. :serenade:
Ta.
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Re: Advice to prepare your CV and covering letter for Austri

Post by Tatt »

I realise that I have not exactly followed my own advice with the two example CV's I posted; Austrian CV's like bullet points and short statements of fact, no whole sentences!

I have written lots of whole sentences and paragraphs. This is my style I suppose, but it may be the wrong approach generally.

If you can't think of good whole sentences to write about your previous employment then keep it simple.

Eg.
Project Management and Consulting
  • Main responsibilities
  • Professional management of client initiatves
  • Cost controlling and budget management
  • Vendor negotiation
  • Contract management
etc. It should not be difficult to list the main responsibilities of any job, even if it was less white collar professional there are responsibilities such as 'Good time keeping' or 'Discretion'.
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Re: Advice to prepare your CV and covering letter for Austri

Post by WienA »

Tatt wrote:I realise that I have not exactly followed my own advice with the two example CV's I posted; Austrian CV's like bullet points and short statements of fact, no whole sentences!

I have written lots of whole sentences and paragraphs. This is my style I suppose, but it may be the wrong approach generally.

If you can't think of good whole sentences to write about your previous employment then keep it simple.

Eg.
Project Management and Consulting
  • Main responsibilities
  • Professional management of client initiatves
  • Cost controlling and budget management
  • Vendor negotiation
  • Contract management
etc. It should not be difficult to list the main responsibilities of any job, even if it was less white collar professional there are responsibilities such as 'Good time keeping' or 'Discretion'.
Wirklich? I always write long sentences

Oops

Thanks,
W.
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Tatt
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Re: Advice to prepare your CV and covering letter for Austri

Post by Tatt »

WienA wrote:Wirklich? I always write long sentences
It's one of the points where my missus and I differ; she only uses short notes and I prefer full sentences. She is Austrian though and says that is the local style. I can see the point in both so I'm not saying one is right or wrong. Personal preference on this one.
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Re: Advice to prepare your CV and covering letter for Austri

Post by ebony »

I am thinking of applying for a job in a hotel. Their main require is experience in that field and good English skills. The add itself is in German. Could I send the CV and cover letter in English? My German is average and can speak it, but don´t know if I would manage to put together a cover letter.
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Re: Advice to prepare your CV and covering letter for Austri

Post by Tatt »

ebony wrote:I am thinking of applying for a job in a hotel. Their main require is experience in that field and good English skills. The add itself is in German. Could I send the CV and cover letter in English? My German is average and can speak it, but don´t know if I would manage to put together a cover letter.
Hey, my suggestions is if your preferred language is English then I would write the CV in English - it doesn't make sense to write a bad CV and covering letter in Deutsch when you can write a good one in English.

If it's a hotel then everyone speaks English - but state clearly your German level and if you are willing to do lessons to improve it. International hotel's like having native speakers (of many languages) so I think it's no bad thing to apply in your preferred one.
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Re: Advice to prepare your CV and covering letter for Austri

Post by ebony »

Thank you, tatt! Had the same thought that rather in good English than in bad German. The only negative side of it that I am not a native speaker and my experience shows, that then people automatically think you can not possible be good at it, not at all :( Specially in this country. Without having special certificates to prove it beforehand, they will not give you a chance to prove it in person.
But will give it a try in some hotels, see if there are any reactions. I have nothing to lose.
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Re: Advice to prepare your CV and covering letter for Austri

Post by WienA »

Tatt wrote:
WienA wrote:Wirklich? I always write long sentences
It's one of the points where my missus and I differ; she only uses short notes and I prefer full sentences. She is Austrian though and says that is the local style. I can see the point in both so I'm not saying one is right or wrong. Personal preference on this one.
Hm. OK - that's good to know. Danke. The last job I got, I had written a really simple resume for (really played down my experience)

Anyway, if I don't find something, I think I will just leave :mrgreen:
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Re: Advice to prepare your CV and covering letter for Austri

Post by nunyo_bidness »

Is there anyone here who might be willing to help me put together a CV for a reasonable sum? I have an American resume, and am usually good at doing this for others, but seem to be a bit crap at doing for myself. Unsure of how to meld all the varied experience I have into something that might land me a job here.
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Re: Advice to prepare your CV and covering letter for Austri

Post by Tatt »

Hey nb,

If you like I can make a few suggestions for Austrianising your CV and improving your chances here, I'll send you a PM.
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Re: Advice to prepare your CV and covering letter for Austria

Post by morgenhund »

Quite a few people seem to be searching our site for information about CV/Resumé/curriculum vitae so thought I would bump this post.
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