Here is an example. Imagine I have an entry in a CV with the following (silly) text explaining my duties and accomplishments:

I have implemented an application with various features. I have improved the system performance. I have won three new customers.

A German equivalent would be something along those lines:

Ich habe eine Anwendung mit verschiedenen Funktionen implementiert. Ich habe die Systemperformanz verbessert. Ich habe drei neue Kunden gewonnen.

Now in English (and other languages) it would be appropriate to use the reduced form:

Implemented an application with various features. Improved the system performance. Won three new customers.

Would it be acceptable practice to write something similar in German? Like this:

Implementiert eine Anwendung mit verschiedenen Funktionen. Verbessert die Systemperformanz. Gewonnen drei neue Kunden.

I realize it does not look exactly correct grammatically-wise, but still, languages and their use change and adapt to times. Perhaps this has become all right. If not, what would be the correct (shortened) form that will look acceptable in the eyes of hiring managers?


You are on the right track, except that the correct forms of the key words are different in German. Put another way, your original shortened version is "similar to" (but not the same as) the standard German version.

In English, we say,

  • ImplementED an application with various features.
  • ImprovED the system performance.
  • AcquirED three new customers.

That is, we use the past verb forms.

In German, the correct forms of the key words are in noun forms, as IQV pointed out:

  • ImplementierUNG einer Anwendung mit verschiedenen Funktionen
  • VerbesserUNG der Systemperformanz
  • Akquise dreier neuer Kunden

German is a bit more "impersonal" in this regard than English. Meaning that it deemphasizes the "I" as you noted in a comment.

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  • Thanks for this extra insight into the language. You are quite correct, German makes communication somewhat impersonal and it does influence the relationships between people too (or perhaps historically the latter influenced the former). Anyway, this specific area of formal writing somehow managed to avoid my close attention until now. Catching up with your help. – guest Oct 1 '18 at 18:58

As Jonathan mentioned in his answer, it would not be appropiate to use the shortened sentences in German. But another possibility which is often seen in german CVs is using the appropiate nouns:

  • Implementierung einer Anwendung mit verschiedenen Funktionen
  • Verbesserung der Systemperformanz
  • Akquise dreier neuer Kunden
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  • Very interesting. Did not think of that. But would it not imply the author is somehow evading speaking in terms of actions and thus may be a somewhat passive person? – guest Oct 1 '18 at 8:26
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    On most German CVs these days, complete sentences are restricted to the cover letter. When presenting your work experience table-style, the above is not unsusual – npst Oct 1 '18 at 8:34
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    @guest No. Rather the contrary - many will avoid writing “I did...” wherever possible because it’s seen as bad style. – Stephie Oct 1 '18 at 8:35
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    No. It is the usual style for CVs. – IQV Oct 1 '18 at 8:35
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    Heavy use of nominalization is very characteristic of German administrative/business language. – Annatar Oct 1 '18 at 9:47
  1. The correctly shortened sentences would be in german:

Habe eine Anwendung mit verschiedenen Funktion implementiert. Habe die Systemperformanz verbessert. Habe drei neue Kunden gewonnen.

(You would not skip the verbs.)

  1. It would not be appropriate in a Letter of Application in German (due to my humble opinion.)
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  • Thanks. I suspected this specific form would be the right answer. It sadly means there's not much shortening that can be achieved. But it does de-emphasize "I" which is what I seek foremost. – guest Oct 1 '18 at 8:15
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    "Eine Anwendung mit verschiedenen Funktion implementiert. Die Systemperformanz verbessert. Drei neue Kunden gewonnen." are common log/record style. Not appropriate for CVs either, though. – Annatar Oct 1 '18 at 9:34

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