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InnoBlog: Writing a CV fit for a career in Europe

Having grown up on a different continent, I always viewed Europe as a bloc: maybe the French have croissants and the Swedes have fika, but it’s more or less the same. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Cultural differences run strong, and it’s perhaps best exemplified in… writing a CV.

Differences by continent

Nowadays, a CV is an indispensable document for every person in the workforce. It shows your background, your education, your experiences, your skills and abilities. But depending on where you are applying – to which company and in which country – what you include and how you present this information can vary drastically.


When I moved to Europe to begin my EIT InnoEnergy Master’s programme in Smart Electrical Networks and Systems, someone pointed something out to me when looking at my resume. In U.S.A., it is more common to list your school and university first in the education section, in Europe, it is more common to list the degree you obtained. This took me aback: what other differences was I missing?


In general, order can matter. Whether education information or work experience comes first can depend on the job description, such as if the job the candidate is applying for is relevant to previous work or current position. For CVs that are two pages or more, it is also preferred to have work experience and education on the first page.


Another major difference is that it is much more common to include a photo and/or date of birth on a European CV. This is especially true in Sweden, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and France, but not necessarily everywhere.