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Quick tips for writing the perfect Swiss CV

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Quick tips for writing the perfect Swiss CV
Photo: Anatoly Vartonov/Stockphoto.com
05:54 CEST+02:00
Every country has a slightly different approach to the perfect resume. Rebekka Affolter, who writes the blog for leading Swiss recruitment website swissjobs.ch, tells The Local how to polish up your CV and stand out from the hordes of other jobseekers in Switzerland.

How should I approach my CV?

Look at it as a snapshot of your career. Think about the qualities the company is looking for and highlight those in particular.

Is the structure of a Swiss CV any different from an American resume or a British CV?

CVs in Switzerland are in general not very different to either of those in terms of structure. So, as in any CV, you need to include: education, professional experience, languages, special skills, additional activities and hobbies, and references.

Bear in mind, however, that the Swiss attach special importance to a well-written CV – so watch out for grammar and spelling mistakes.

How long should a Swiss CV be?

A Swiss CV can be up to three pages long, depending on how long you have been working. Most people should aim to keep it down to two pages. But if you have been in business for 20 or 30 years, then two pages would probably be short. Remember to be concise and to stick to bullet points - you can go into more detail when you’re interviewed.

Can you show off?

Everyone has a successful project or responsibility that they want to mention – and that’s fine. But the Swiss tend to be modest, so you should never sound boastful or arrogant. And, of course, you should never lie.

Can I write my CV in English?  

Unless otherwise specified, the CV should be written in the language of the employment ad. If an ad is in German, for example, and asks for applications in English then it might be a good idea to submit the CV in both English and German. By all means get the help of a translator make sure that your CV is faultless.

And if you already have excellent language skills, do include a relevant certificate – the Swiss love certificates!

How much personal information should be included? Date of birth and marital status? Leisure activities, like singing in a church choir, for example?

It wouldn’t be wrong if you don’t include any of this. This kind of information, however, does help the recruiter to build a more complete picture of the candidate – and that may help you to stand out from other candidates. Be specific. Don’t include very general activities such as sport and travel.  

What should you include in your cover letter?

The letter of introduction is the most important part and should be limited to one page. You should be as specific as possible and tailor it to the company you’re applying to.

How should foreign qualifications be handled - should they be translated to Swiss equivalents?

Often it doesn’t make it any clearer when you translate them. A lot of expressions are common – such as a Bachelor or Masters degree – and do not need translation.

Should you include a picture of yourself?

Yes, it’s common to include one. However, the picture has to look professional - it’s far better to skip the photo than to use a bad one.

Any rules about references?

You should have at least two references. Don’t limit them to past or current employers. If you are going for a job in sales, for example, it’s a good idea to have a reference from a client or a partner you’ve worked with in the past.

Finally, three quick tips for CV writing?

Make sure your writing is clear, simple and correct. Emphasize the qualities you possess that seem relevant to a particular job. Don’t be afraid to show some personality.

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