Application in the Anglo-Saxon area
If you apply for a job in the English-speaking area it is important that you don’t just watch out for spelling mistakes but also take the different standards and habits of the respective country into account. These standards and habits may vary from one country to another.
The English counterpart to the letter of motivation follows almost the same rules as in the German language area. Thus, self-marketing is of great importance. Explain your motivation, interests and qualification for the job on a scale of one page. Adapt your cover letter exactly to the job advertisement.
Whilst doing so, look out for certain pitfalls; the devil lies in the detail:
- Date: in the North-American area the date format differs from the European one. Unlike here, the date is indicated mm/dd/yyyy.
- Form of address: in American English it is Mr./Ms., in British English it is Mr/Ms
- Letter Closings:
- if you know the recipient of the cover letter: yours sincerely
- if you do not know the recipient: yours faithfully
- in American English “sincerely” will work in both cases
The resume cannot be compared to the German CV. In the Anglo-Saxon area, CVs as we know them are only used for academic positions and are thus focusing on the academic experience. Otherwise, you write a one- (USA, Canada) or two-paged (UK, Australia) resume for your application.
The resume is structured as follows:
- Header: This is where you put your contact information so the employer can get in touch easily. (Name, address, telephone number, professional e-mail address, possibly a website, etc.). This is not the place to include a photo of yours.
- Summary of qualification: At first you put your professional profile, which is a short summary of your current professional situation. After that you summarize briefly and concisely what qualifications, accomplishments, successes and experiences make you a suitable candidate for the position you are applying for.
- Education and experience: In two separated paragraphs you put the stages of your education and the stages of your professional experience in reverse chronological order, the latest stage being on top of the list. This is similar to the German CV. But unlike the German version you should focus especially on the stages relevant to the job advertisement. Where you went to primary school is not of importance.
- Additional experience: This is where you can list further experience, accomplishments or special knowledge that could be of interest to the employer. As in all paragraphs you should write a brief and concise summary without leaving out important information.
- References: In a resume you should actually put two to three references with their complete contact information. You should avoid giving references only upon request.
School reports and employment certificates are not being enclosed to an application in the Anglo-Saxon area. If requested by the employer they are to be forwarded.
There are specific standards for every country that have to be researched and taken into consideration when writing an application in English. For example, if you apply for a position in the North-American area, you must not give the following information: religion, age, gender, sexuality, weight, size and country of origin. Also, you do not give a picture.
On the websites of the Career Service of the Universities of Harvard and Oxford you can find examples of resumes and cover letters as well as further information concerning the application procedure in the Anglo-Saxon area.
Applying in English in Switzerland
An increasing number of companies in Switzerland demand an application file in English. In those cases you do not have to adjust the cover letter or the CV to Anglo-Saxon standards. You can just translate your application. Here too you need to check your spelling. To avoid mistakes and mistranslation we advise you to get your application checked by someone with very good knowledge of English.