When it comes to writing a CV, there are so many templates and formats to choose from that it can get confusing. Do you choose a chronological or a skills-based format? Do you keep the design simple or use a fancy template? The choice can be overwhelming.
To keep things simple, if you’re applying for a role within Europe, you can overcome the confusion by using the Europass CV. Rather than worrying about what type of CV to choose, working with a Europass CV template means your CV will be easy to put together and easily recognisable by EU employers and educational institutions alike.
In this article, you will learn what a Europass CV is, what to use it for and how to put one together with our top tips, as well as see an example in action.
The Europass CV is one of the best-known résumé formats within Europe. Like a standard CV, its purpose is to present your work history, education, skills and other important information to potential employers.
It is part of the online Europass platform, an incentive set out by the EU to help create some uniformity and transparency of experience and qualifications so that they’re clearly understood by employers throughout Europe.
As well as offering an online CV editor, the Europass platform provides four other tools:
- The cover letter editor, which helps you create a structured cover letter from different templates.
- The Diploma Supplement, a document that describes the skills and knowledge you acquired through a higher education degree.
- The Europass Mobility document, which records any skills and knowledge you acquired through work placements, traineeships and internships in another country.
- The Certificate Supplement document, which details the skills and knowledge you acquired through vocational training.
While the idea of having a uniform system for assessing candidates has been praised, others find the process very restrictive. There are different views on its effectiveness. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of the Europass CV.
Those who support the Europass CV believe it holds many advantages over a less structured CV approach, including:
- It’s free: Creating a Europass CV is as easy as creating an account and inputting your details. It doesn’t cost anything, so no need to pay a résumé writer or fork out for expensive CV templates.
- It’s easy for employers to compare: If everyone applying for a role uses a Europass CV, it’s easy for an employer to compare candidates and data. When different CV formats are used, and information is presented differently, it can take a long time to pick out relevant achievements and skills to score candidates against each other.
- It can be used outside of the EU: The Europass CV can be used by anyone and is available in 24 languages, regardless of where you’re from or where you’re applying to work.
While Europass has support and is widely accepted, it does have its disadvantages, such as:
- It’s harder to stand out: While being uniformed has some advantages, it makes it very difficult for candidates to stand out from their competition. It doesn’t allow you to add sections for things that may be unique for you, and the overall look of the CV is bland and clumsy.
- It lacks flexibility: Along the same lines as above, the Europass CV is so structured that information needs to be input into the appropriate sections, even if it isn’t relevant. This can make for a very long CV, lacking the creativity of combining sections. The structure also often gets split across two pages, making sections difficult to read, so vital information could be missed.
- Website errors are common: There have been reports that the Europass CV builder is very buggy and in need of some review. Dates often get changed, and if an error is presented, the website doesn’t allow you to change it. All of this can be very frustrating and makes the process much more complicated than it should be.
Creating a Europass CV is a fairly simple process, and it can be broken down into four steps:
1. Create your own Europass Profile
Setting up a Europass Profile is completely free. You don’t have to create an account but it’s a good idea that you do so that you can save your information and progress and return to the website later to make any changes. If you don’t create an account, it’s important to note that any information you enter on the platform will be deleted after 48 hours and so you’ll need to start all over again.
2. Add your details
Once you create an account, head over to the Europass CV editor, where you’ll be invited to complete the different sections of your CV, specifically your personal details, a summary, your professional experience, education and training, and skills and competencies. You can also add additional sections language skills, publications, volunteer work, and hobbies and interests.
3. Select a template
When you’ve added all your information to your CV, you can select an appropriate design for it from a selection of templates. In this step, you can also edit your CV’s colour palette, change font size and add page numbers. There’s also an option to remove the Europass logo from your CV here, which is automatically added to the first page.
4. Save and download your CV
All you have to do now is save your CV in your Europass Library or publish it on EURES (a cooperation network of employment services aimed to facilitate employment mobility among EU member states) — provided that you’ve created a Europass Profile. You can also download your CV as a PDF file. (Make sure to give it an appropriate name, like ‘John Smith CV’.)
As with writing any type of CV, there are certain things you can do to make yours stand out from other candidates and mistakes to avoid making. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Be concise
When describing your experience, make sure that you use short statements — this makes your CV more readable and easily understandable, and it shows that you respect the reader’s time. On that note, it’s a good idea to avoid clichés like ‘excellent problem-solver’ and to start statements with action words like ‘oversaw’ and ‘supervised’.
2. Tailor your experience
Rather than just including everything and anything in your CV, make sure the information you pick is relevant to the role you’re applying for. A good idea here is to look at the job description to identify key words and phrases and any relevant details, and incorporate these into your CV.
3. Use measurables
Make sure your CV highlights your results and achievements with facts and figures. Use percentages to show improvement and numbers to indicate things like how many people you manage, how much money you saved a company and how you scored in an appraisal.
4. Focus on transferable skills
It’s not all about skills that feel very specific to the job you’re applying for. Employers want to know about your transferable skills, too — so, make sure you highlight things like communication skills, leadership abilities and a desire to collaborate.
5. Use the correct tenses
A common mistake people often make with a CV is getting tenses muddled. Your current role should be written in the present tense (although some achievements that have passed may be in the past tense). Previous roles should always be written in the past tense.
It may sound like an obvious thing to do, but make sure you give your CV a thorough proofread before submitting. A CV with lots of errors will give a bad impression, even if your experience is amazing. It shows a lack of attention to detail or, worse, a lack of effort. Grammar must be checked, as well as spelling and formatting.
Want to see a Europass CV in action? Check out this example!
A Europass CV is a great option for having a recognised CV format, accepted and approved, all over Europe. There are many pros and cons to using this format but, overall, it’s easy to create and it saves the hassle of designing a CV yourself or paying for the service. A well-thought-out Europass CV can look professional and give you a solid basis for any future CVs you need to write.
Have you ever used a Europass CV in your job search? Do you think it’s worth creating one? Let us know in the comments section.
This article is an update of an earlier version published in September 2014.