Your CV is a marketing tool designed to do one thing: secure you an interview and, ultimately (hopefully), land you your dream job.
Crafting the perfect CV can be an extremely nerve-racking process, especially when you consider how you only have a few seconds to impress the hiring manager enough to get your application into the ‘Yes’ pile. Fortunately, there are many online CV makers to help you accomplish that, and one of the best options available to you is the Europass CV.
This resourceful guide lays down all the basics for getting started with Europass and creating your own winning CV, as well as offers examples and valuable tips and tricks to put it all together.
What is the Europass CV?
It’s part of Europass, an EU initiative to increase transparency of qualification and mobility of citizens in Europe. It’s one of the initiative’s five documents, with the other four being:
- the Language Passport, which is a self-assessment tool for language skills and qualifications;
- the Europass Mobility, which records the skills and knowledge acquired in another European country (through a work placement, for example);
- the Certificate Supplement, which describes the skills and knowledge acquired by holders of vocational training certificates; and
- the Diploma Supplement, which describes the skills and knowledge acquired by holders of higher education degrees.
While the Europass CV and Language Passport are freely accessible online, the Europass Mobility, Certificate Supplement and Diploma Supplement documents can only be issued by relevant education and training authorities.
Why create a Europass CV?
If you’re not completely sold on the idea of using Europass to create your CV, here are a few reasons why you should:
- It’s completely free and there are no hidden charges, unlike many other online CV makers.
- It’s available in over 25 different languages, including English, French, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish.
- It can be used by anyone, even if outside the EU.
- It focuses on you and your abilities and achievements, unlike creatively designed CVs which can draw the reader’s attention away from all the important information. Having said that, a more creative CV can be useful if you’re a designer or a photographer, for example, as you’ll be better able to showcase your skills and creativity.
How can I create one?
There are two ways you can create your Europass CV:
- Online with the help of guiding instructions. Simply navigate to the online editor and start filling in the template with your personal and professional information. After completing your CV, you’ll then be able to save and download it as a PDF or send it to your email account.
- Offline with the help of Europass’s downloadable templates and guidelines and examples.
After creating your Europass CV, you can post it to EURES, the European employment portal, or directly submit it to employers you are targeting in your job search.
The Europass CV is a standard template which you can fill in with the relevant information, and is divided into five main sections:
1. Personal information
You can include the following personal details on your CV:
- Your full name
- Your address (street name, post code, city and country): You can simply indicate your city if you’re worried your exact location may be detrimental to your application.
- Your telephone numbers (home, work and mobile): If you don’t want your boss to know you’re looking for another job, make sure you DON’T include your work contact details!
- Your email address: Make sure your email address is professional and NOT something like [email protected]!
- Your professional websites or blogs: This is a great way to show off your work if you’re a graphic designer or a content writer, for example.
- Your instant messaging accounts (eg: Skype)
- Your sex (only if required)
- Your date of birth (only if required): You can also change the format of how the date appears.
- Your nationality (only if required)
2. Type of application
This section gives employers an immediate overview of the purpose of your CV. Choose any of the following options:
- Job Applied For: Use this if you’re applying for a specific position. Include the job title and its reference number, if applicable (for example, ‘Pharmacy Assistant, Ref: MED123JOB).
- Position: Use this to indicate your current position.
- Preferred Job: Use this if you’re sending a speculative CV to indicate the specific role you’re interested in.
- Studies Applied For: Use this if you’re applying to a university for studies.
- Personal Statement: Use this to briefly describe your skills and experience, and to sell yourself to the reader. It should be no more than 50 words long.
3. Work experience
Don’t list every job you’ve ever had, and instead concentrate on the experience that is directly relevant to the position you’re applying for. Meanwhile, if you have little to no experience at all, make sure you mention any volunteering experience or paid/unpaid work placements here.
Your work experience should be listed in reverse chronological order and each position should include the following:
- Employment dates: You can specify whether the employment is on-going and you can also change the way the date appears (for example, 12 June 2017 or 12/06/17).
- Occupation or position held: For example, ‘Content Writer and Editor’.
- Employer details (name, city and country): You can also add the employer’s street address, postal code, website and business or sector, but you should only do this if required.
- Main activities and responsibilities: Don’t just write your job description here. Talk about specific examples and quantify your achievements.
4. Education and training
Similar to your work experience, this section should be presented in reverse chronological order. Try to only include the courses that are relevant to the position you’re applying for. Each course should, ideally, contain the following information:
- Course dates: You can specify whether the course is on-going and you can also change the way the date appears.
- Title of qualification awarded: For example, ‘Certificate in Hairdressing’.
- Organisation details (name, city and country): You can also add the organisation’s street address, postal code and website, but only if required.
- EQF or national qualification level: Learn more about the European Qualification Framework (EQF) here.
- Course description: Briefly mention the main subjects and occupational skills covered in the course.
5. Personal skills
This section’s aim is to provide employers with a snapshot of your professional skills and includes information about your:
- Mother tongues: Use this section to highlight your native languages.
- Other languages: Select your second languages here and indicate your proficiency levels in understanding, speaking and writing. The languages that you add here, as well as those in ‘Mother tongues’, will be automatically added to your Language Passport. You can also mention any relevant diplomas or certificates you’ve received.
- Communication, organisational/managerial and job-related skills: These should, ideally, be presented in bulleted lists. Make sure you specify the context in which each skill was acquired.
- Digital competence: Assess your information processing, communication, content creation, safety and problem-solving skills here. You can also mention any relevant diplomas or certifications you’ve received, as well as provide information for any additional computer skills.
- Photo: You can add a professional photo to your CV in either PNG or JPG format. However, note that this can unintentionally elicit discrimination. Only add a photo if it is required.
- Other skills: Use this field to add specific skills that are relevant to the job you’re applying for but do not fit in any other section. These can include first aid or mountaineering skills, for example. They should, ideally, be presented in a bulleted list, and make sure you specify the context in which they were acquired.
- Driving license: You can add the type of driving license(s) that you hold to your CV. This is especially useful for jobs which involve driving.
- Additional information: You can create additional areas for your certifications, citations, conferences, courses, honours and awards, memberships, presentations, projects, publications, references and seminars, and include information about these on your CV.
- Attachments/Annexes: The online editor allows you to upload supporting documents to your Europass CV. File formats accepted are PDF, PNG and JPG only.
All fields are optional, which means you can add as much or as little information as you like. Any fields that are left empty will not be included in the final document.
If you need some inspiration with writing this all too important document, check out the example CVs below:
Europass also provides examples in languages other than English – including French, German, Greek and Spanish – which you can view here.
Tips and tricks
Because we want to see you succeed and land your dream job, we’ve put together the following tips and tricks to help you craft your Europass CV.
- If you want to remove the Europass logo from your CV, simply click on ‘Options’ in the left-hand side vertical menu, untick the ‘Europass logo’ button and click ‘OK’.
- If you want to create your CV in a language other than English using the online editor, simply change the language from the drop-down list in the upper left corner. This will automatically translate headings and taxonomies into the selected language. Descriptions for each field, however, will need to be manually translated (preferably by a native speaker).
- Make sure you download your CV before you leave the editor! Europass does not store documents on its servers, and you could lose all your hard work if you don't!
- Every application should be accompanied by a well-written cover letter – even if the job ad doesn’t ask for one. Sending one shows employers that you’re a motivated candidate and that you’re genuinely interested in the job. You can create your cover letter independently or with Europass’s dedicated online editor.
- Before you submit your application, it’s imperative that you check and double-check your CV and any supplement documents for errors. It’s also a good idea to get a trusted friend or family member to look over it, too, in case you missed a potentially embarrassing typo.
- As you advance in your career, it’s important to regularly update your CV to reflect the skills, qualifications and experience you gain. If you’ve generated a Europass CV in PDF or XML format, you can update it online by uploading the relevant document and following the on-screen instructions.
Have you ever used a Europass CV in your job search or would consider creating one? Join the conversation down below and let us know!
This article was originally published in September 2014.