While job searching I've always only used what I understand is an American style resume: a sales document that's at most two pages long and which distills my professional experience down to core bullet points and key achievements. It's scannable and served me well in past job searches, often leading to bizarre praise from hiring managers.

Something that's come up when starting my new job is the request to fill in an entire and exhaustive curriculum vitae, meaning my full employment and project history going back to graduation. I've also seen these types of full CVs very often in my industry (ERP) within Europe. They are monstrous documents that on average are over six pages long. They're often all data and no information. As I'm more active in recruitment nowadays, I also understand the praise for my one-pager more.

Is there any reason I should maintain this type of document going forward? It's obviously easier to track all this now than it would be to recreate at some point in future, but I've never needed this level of detail before. All the client and project info that people seem to put on these is covered by non-disclosure-agreements, meaning that even for things like security clearance checks I wouldn't be able to divulge project-level details.

Should I keep track of my full employment and project history? Or can I safely ignore that detail and focus on the stuff that really matters for a concise resume?

  • Ugh, this is too long for my liking but I'm not sure what to cut as I guess the context is relevant. Feel free to edit if you can improve this. :) I've limited this to "in Europe" since I believe the answer for the US would be a simple "no".
    – Lilienthal
    Aug 25, 2020 at 15:24
  • Keep in mind that having long CV might be useless because you might not be able to share information. Just because you can't. To expand on your project there is motivational letter (max 2 pages). Anything else can be asked on interview. Aug 25, 2020 at 15:29
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    This really depends on the company and country. Most would probably be no, who would care. But there's those odd outliers who may still want it. Question is, do you want to or think you might want to work for one of those outliers in the future? I've only ever had one company ask for my full CV, and I noped it as it was a French one who were being special. I can't handle that kind of bureaucracy.
    – Draken
    Aug 25, 2020 at 16:29
  • @cbeleitesunhappywithSX Thanks for providing a German perspective, would you mind posting that as an answer?
    – Lilienthal
    Aug 26, 2020 at 11:38
  • @KeithLoughnane I'm not looking for legal answers though, just what's typical in EU hiring. It's a different culture compared to the US and perhaps the UK and Germany do their own thing as well but I see a lot of similarities throughout the continent regardless of country boders.
    – Lilienthal
    Aug 27, 2020 at 9:16

4 Answers 4


From a UK (rather than strictly speaking European) perspective, I'd say the sweet-spot is somewhere in between. As ever keeping irrelevant information to a minimum (and zero if you can manage it) is paramount - but that doesn't mean you have to work to an arbitrary length requirement as seems to be the case in more US-centric approaches (I've known US-based hiring managers who will literally and almost religiously stop reading the CV at the two-page mark or even bin without reading any that goes over!).

An approach I've both used (and appreciated from candidates) is to treat the first page in particular American-style, get the hiring managers attention with the key stuff that they are looking for to determine whether the candidate is worth a deeper look and then provide the less flashy, more substance heavy info in later pages.

Even going so far as to break up the document into "Key" or "Relevant" sections and "Additional" - you can apply this distinction on a per opportunity basis and to both skills/education and employment history.

Is there any reason I should maintain this type of document going forward?

I'd always say yes - particularly for your own purposes rather than for forwarding raw. First it allows for easy slicing and dicing into a CV that is tailored for the specific opportunity you're going for at the time. Secondly you can easily use it to populate an employment history for background checks, security clearances etc. precisely because that sort of thing doesn't come up all the time it's handy to have it stored in a file rather than having to prod the old grey matter into divulging this in complete accuracy on demand.

To be honest I don't think I've actually submitted my "full" CV for a job application since I got my first post-university job (and could hence ditch all the pointless tiny jobs I had to make a bit of cash while in education) - but I've never felt constrained by length into not including something that I think the hiring manager might find interesting either.

Something that's come up when starting my new job is the request to fill in an entire and exhaustive curriculum vitae, meaning my full employment and project history going back to graduation.

If I'm understanding you correctly this particular requests is actually at the behest of your new employer (i.e. not as part of the process of hiring you), I think I've only encountered this particular sort of request once, which was interestingly enough at the behest of the European-based company which owned my then employer and it seemed to be their standard practice for all employees. It seemed partly to go towards forming some sort of uber skills and experience matrix/directory to ensure that if one business unit needed a skill it didn't have but that another did they could put them in touch. Sure enough I did receive a handful of requests for assistance based on this info over the years I was there. I've certainly never encountered the practice before or since (and I have a substantial amount of doubt about how useful it actually was), all though my colleagues based in the mainland Europe parts of the business didn't seem to think it was particularly odd. I don't know enough about your current employer to know whether they are doing similar.

All the client and project info that people seem to put on these is covered by non-disclosure-agreements, meaning that even for things like security clearance checks I wouldn't be able to divulge project-level details.

As something of a tangent - even for the details that would be NDA-bound it can be worth keeping that info for your own use. Should have a need to showcase the work on an application CV at a later date you can provide an sanitized version for Lilienthal-advertising purposes. Additionally you never know when you might actually be asked "have you ever?.." by someone you are actually allowed to answer (NB: I was going to provide an anecdotal example of this from my own history - but then I remembered that I legally can't, which amused me!)

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    Exhaustive answer, appreciate the detail! The "private copy" might indeed be the way to go regardless of public use. Regarding your assumption: it's indeed for internal use here, but they're also the actual CVs that are sent out to potential clients. Let's say I'm not a fan myself. :)
    – Lilienthal
    Aug 25, 2020 at 17:14
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    @Lilienthal Ahh.. the old "advertise the company by showing off our people" schtick, IMO the full-CV approach for doing that is clunky and downright lazy
    – motosubatsu
    Aug 26, 2020 at 8:22

A little disclaimer: my experience is in France in software industry (as a project manager and recruiter) so it may be different in other fields or countries.

For a junior position, we (french software companies) tend to prefer one page CV/resume but I guess you're not asking as a junior.

For a senior position, the standard is a resume like this:

  • First page with a professional picture (not mandatory but advised), how to reach you, a short summary of what you're looking for and your strengths, plus your diplomas.
  • Still on the first page if it fits, second page if not, your key skills that are relevant for the job offer.
  • Then your detailed experience, chronologically with at least these informations: client (or "confidential client" if you can't disclose it), position, responsibilities, a short description of the client's business/the project (including if it's a SCRUM project for instance) and for a tech position, what were the technologies used.
  • After, if you want, you can add misc. infos like hobbies, volunteering etc. You can also say if you own a driver's licence and a vehicle.

These are also the kind of resume we send to our customers for our employees.

These informations are the one that matter for the recruiters, maybe because the context is different as "at-will" employment doesn't exist here so it's a huge commitment to hire someone and the recruiters want to understand the potential hire's career plan.

  • 1
    "detailed experience" Is this ever actually read then? No matter how interested I am in a candidate, I just can't imagine wanting to read about the unrelated projects they did 10 years ago. Would you say it's more out of convention that this is all included? Or is the skill section there to sell a profile and the detail there to "prove" the skills?
    – Lilienthal
    Aug 25, 2020 at 17:16
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    I read this section in order to know which skills were actually used in a professional environment and in order to know what did the candidate do before being in this position (of course, summer jobs or stuff like this are not relevant so you'd better not put them) and understand his career path. The skill section alone is not so relevant because if the guy put "Angular" or "Angular expert" I don't know what he means by expert, I don't know if he coded a lot or if it was a junior position. In the detailed section, if I see "Angular lead dev in a SCRUM project" I have more relevant infos.
    – LP154
    Aug 26, 2020 at 7:20

here. I've needed a long, comprehensive list of former employments - but not with the CV that goes for a job application.

The CV I use for job applications is 2 pages of information and for academia an additional list of my most relevant publications.

In your case, an analogous showcase list of relevant projects may be good. Showcase implying that this is a selection of projects that are either publicly available or that the respective owners of the project have agreed to give you a reference if asked.
Typically, I'd expect that you are not free to talk about many relevant industry projects and in that case I'd put particularly important information about professional responsibilities that are not clear from the position into an explanatory line in the employment history. The appropriate level of project "details" for this does not conflict with NDAs*.

Employment history needs to be complete in the sense that the time since your graduation should be covered without gaps (short transition periods between two positions are OK). But this is not only a showcase of jobs that contributed to your relevant professional experience for this application. Substantial gaps read "unemploymed". OTOH, it doesn't need to be complete in the sense that one doesn't list student summer jobs or the like (again, unless relevant).

The traditional German CV format is chronologically, nowadays reverse chronological as e.g. in the so-called European CV format is widespread as well (that's what I use). I haven't seen a text-form CV in my whole life (though I remember being told in school that this exists).

Some expected sections may seem irrelevant, but are expected/typically stated/still fairly often given:

  • I'd always state having a driver's license for medium-sized trucks + trailers - even when applying for office/lab jobs.
    Car driver's license is always important info - truck + trailer info happens automatically by saying "driving license: C1E" instead of "C".
  • photo: is typically given
  • gender, marital status, religious affiliation
    Nowadays, I'd state them only if there's a reason for that. E.g. religious affiliation when applying where the employer is a religious affiliation, gender if that helps whoever is answering to address me appropriately.
    I'd rather expect to see them with the traditional CV format.

going back to graduation

Education is a mandatory section. I'd expect to see there (with date and granting institution):

  • habilitation or PhD
  • professional degrees (Diplom, BSc, MSc, journeyman's/master's certificate [Gesellenbrief/Meisterbrief], ...),
  • the final qualification from school (e.g. Abitur)

Higher ones do not always replace lower ones. E.g. the final school qualification stays even if you apply for a professorship. Diplom or MSc stay regardless of PhD/habilitation/professorship (The Diplom/MSc can imply legally relevant professional qualifications which the PhD or habilitation don't.).

Very comprehensive lists may have to be filled in with HR as part of the "start your job" formalities. With very comprehensive I mean that with a PhD and 15 years of professional experience I've still been asked when and where I attended elementary school (that is an extreme example, though).
I'd expect this may happen for positions in the public service (including as in my case academia) or maybe in industries that have similar and very strict union tariff salaries/wages: The comprehensive employment list is used to determine professional experience in particular if you claim more experience than can be negotiated free-handedy according to tariff.
For academia, there are also legal specialties about fixed term contracts which are legal for longer total times in academia.
Why they ask about elementary school I have not the faintest idea.

At that point you'll also be asked about religious affiliation and marital status and children. Both are needed when registering a new employee with the tax office.

Should I keep track of my full employment [...] history?

The comprehensive list of all employments that are subject to mandatory social insurance within the EU is also needed for pension cass. So yes, you should keep track, but certainly not in the CV you use for job applications.

* If they do, I'd usually expect the clauses to be void (unless maybe you got special and fair compensation). Over here, you do have a right to get a certificate from your employer stating the professional responsibilities and experience you gained during your job.
Of course they won't give project details or trade secrets. E.g. I do pattern recognition. The employer cannot say "cbeleites developed NewSecretModel for Client AG", but they can and should (if relevant) say "cbeleites' professional duties included development of new machine learning algorithms".


Should I keep track of my full employment and project history? Or can I safely ignore that detail and focus on the stuff that really matters for a concise resume?

  • For the employment details, yes. Sometimes, it's useful for background checks etc.
  • For the project details, no. It's almost never needed / can be disclosed. Project specifics are not needed.

In other words, make sure you have the learning and achievements listed, they are usually are the ones which are needed.

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