Your CV cover

If you have a cover on your CV or get to the actual content straight away depends strongly on where you apply for jobs. In Germany it is standard to apply with a picture on your CV, in the Netherlands this is becoming more popular, whereas in most other Western countries adding your photograph is an absolute „no go.“ In Germany, the first page of the CV usually looks like an actual cover, showing the personal data, a photograph of the applicant and a summery, highlight or keywords (see below). In other countries CVs often do not have covers and just contain the applicants name and contact details in the header or as the first point on the CV.

Also the personal data you provide of yourself greatly differs between countries. In the USA you might only provide your name, email and telephone number. In most European countries you would add your address and your date of birth. In Germany people tend to share the complete package, including a picture in business outfit, all contact details, nationality, place of birth, marital status and even the number and age of your children.

Example cover for applying for a position in Germany: example CV cover

Example cover for applying for a position in the USA:

Example CV Cover USA

At first, making a cover ready for your CV seems trivial, but it is something that might need a bit of thought.

The eyecatcher: your keywords, highlights, or summary

Today it is common to start your CV with a section that depicts the best of your CV and personality for THAT particular job you are applying for. It is a great way to catch the eye of the employer with points that might otherwise end up hidden on the last page of your CV. You apply for a postion in quality control? Then this is the right place to highlight the quality management training you did two years ago! The job description says that they look for someone who has extensive experience with purifying proteins, but in your last job your focus was somehwere else? Then this is the moment to show that your PostDoc before was all about protein purification!

„Professional Strengths“, „Keywords„, or „Top Skills“ for a sales position could look like:


Persuasive communication


Highly numerical

Biomedical devices

Tissue engineering

A „Highlights“ or „Profile“ section for a patent law training position could look like:

  • Natural scientist (chemistry and biology) with many years experience within well- known universities
  • Business fluent in English, German and Spanish
  • Comprehensive intercultural and international experiences (China, Spain, UK, the Netherlands, Germany)
  • Persuasive oral and written communication skills
  • High self-motivation and independent working style


The „Summary“ for a senior scientists position could look like:

I am a results-driven team player with 5 years of research experience in the field of protein chemistry. During the last two years I collaborated with researchers from industry, supervised a technical assistants and a PhD student, and controlled my own research budget. I possess sound knowledge of a wide range of research techniques including HPLC and GC-MS. I am disciplined and organised, care about my own personal development, and possess strong communication skills.

Is there anything to take care of?


  • A CV normally contains either keywords OR highlights OR a summary. It is really quite redundant to have both keyword and a summery.
  • Of course, your eye catcher should not contradict the rest of the application documents. However, be careful not to use exactly the same phrases as you used in the CV and cover letter.
  • A summery is not a motivation. Your motivation to apply for that particular position should be given in your cover letter.

How much could/ should I write here?

There are no fixed rules. We would recommend:

  • 5-9 keywords
  • 5-6 highlights
  • 3-5 sentences summary


My dad told me that an eyecatcher is not good to have. Shall I take it out?

Your dad is of a different generation. He might have still added the occupation of his own parents when applying for jobs. I hope for you that you don’t. He probably learned to write with a typewriter, but you didn’t.

Today people tend to add an eyecather to their CV, however, not everyone is doing so. It is up to you!