Why the Europass is bad for your career

Europass is a European Union (Directorate General for Education and Culture) initiative to increase transparency of qualification and mobility of citizens in Europe. It aims to be a “Lifelong Learning Portfolio” of documents containing the descriptions of all learning achievements, official qualifications, work experience, skills and competences, acquired over time, along with the related documentation.” (Wikipedia)

The Europass was invented by a European Commission directive in 2005 with the very best of good intentions. Unhappy with the prospect of there being a part of their citizens’ lives they were not intimately involved in, the bureaucrats decided they should re-invent the wheel and do their bit for cross-border mobility at the same time by creating the Europass CV. This is what it looks like:

We’ll be looking at the Europass in just a minute but right now I feel I should make something clear and state my political standpoint on Europe. I love Europe, I like its people, its culture (food) and generally enjoy meeting people from other European cultures and comparing how some things we do are the same and how some things are different. I see my European neighbours as distant cousins who I am always pleased to see. However I fundamentally disagree with some elements of the political construct that is the European Union, and for me the failure that is the Europass and the damaging effect it has on its user’s career chances in London only serves to increase my disenchantment.

The Europass is now common for developers from Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece. Interestingly the French largely ignore it, as do most other northern Europeans. It is also rare from Czech, Polish, Hungarian and Romanian developers.

So here are the reasons I have identified for why the Europass is bad for your career.


CV template wizard

The Europass is created by a CV template wizard that you add your details into it and it creates your Europass for you. The problem with this is that its takes responsibility for formatting away from the candidate, and as there does not seem to be an edit option (or rather people don’t use it) what you get is a badly formatted CV with the kind of mistakes you would never get in traditional CV. Take this example:

Here you can see that the education section – in this case as the candidate is a fresh graduate, the most important part of the CV – is split across the bottom of the first page and top of the second page.

Warped Priorities

Another sign that this is document was designed by someone who does not use a CV is that you get very warped priorities. Take the example of the graduate’s CV, surely their education should take up the majority of space on the page and be the most prominent part of the CV? Instead the education section is insufficient, and too much space is devoted to part-time jobs, often making it look like I’ve accidently received a waiter’s CV. With senior CV’s there is often not enough space dedicated to actual experience.

Here only the parts within the red boxes are useful information, as you can see about half of the page is wasted space. The whole left hand indentation thing is also completely pointless.

So not enough useful information, badly formatted and a document full of wasted space.

Poor quality job descriptions

The descriptions of the applications that you have built are the most interesting information that a developer’s CV should contain, yet invariably the Europass CV falls short in this requirement. Take this typical example of a job that this candidate had for 2 years:

Developer and analyst in a wide range of IT projects, typically application development projects. Functionally there projects were implemented through different industries, such as Government and Mail;

Requirements analysis, analysis, design and implementation of features;

Preparation of documentation”

Believe it or not, this doesn’t tell me anything about whether this candidate is going to be right for one of the roles I have. Each job you have had should be described in this format:

• Describe what the challenge was that the team was addressing,

• then describe what the solution to that challenge was (including main technologies) and then

• describe what part you played in that solution

So if the role of a CV is to show the reader that you meet the criteria for the role they are looking to fill and get you an interview, this document is a failure. If you think that just giving a tech stack and the relevant dates or that your CV just has to “look right” and you will get an interview on the basis that you “might be right” for the job you are mistaken. The London IT market is extremely competitive and candidates with ambiguous CVs get rejected because there plenty of better CVs to choose from.

Here is a list of other reasons why the Europass is poor quality document:

Career history often in the wrong order

The career history should start with the most recent job first, so that the reader can instantly tell what company you have most recently worked for.

Annoying boxes

A result of the template wizard is that when the document is converted to Word format you end up with a myriad of lines and boxes in the background which makes it harder to read.

Cr@p logo




Seriously. Look at it. This is a professional document that might well determine the course of your career, do you really want that yellow man thing prancing about the top of your CV?

Passport photo

There is actually a lot of debate about whether a passport photo should be included on a CV. I don’t think it should, in my experience people look a bit silly in these photos and that will not help you get a job.

The language box at the end

It’s too big! Your CV should be written in English for the London market, and I’m guessing you can speak it fluently otherwise you’re going to really struggle get a job in London. I can also guess you speak the language of your mother country, and if you speak any other languages you can put that in a short sentence at the end (along with any qualifications you have in it). Too much space is taken up by something that can be covered by one or two sentences.

“social skills and competences” section

There is a whole section dedicated to “social skills and competences” – was there ever a box so obviously contrived by someone who doesn’t understand how the real world works? Think about it, what objective information are you meant to put in here? I don’t think even the most honest socially-inept developer is going to come clean in this section, it just begs the question.

In summary the Europass does nothing positive for the individual and the poor quality of the document damages the candidates chances. If you want help with re-writing your Java developer CV get in touch and / or you can read my blog “how to write the perfect java developer CV” for more tips.


14 responses to “Why the Europass is bad for your career

  1. Great article, I could not agree more! Europass CV is definitely an useful tool to help recruiters discard resumes….

    If you want to have a laugh, have a look at this old article of when the europass CV was released:

  2. An excellent post! Just wondering if anybody has any any links or screenshots of excellent
    Email Templates used? It really is good to see templates, another thing to
    see examples to benchmark as good communication. Would be eager to
    see any links.

  3. The author didn’t mention that it is possible to edit Europass CV by word processors like MS Word or Libreoffice. It even has odt format template.

    Also it’s not a must use all rows of Europass or strictly follow the order of them. You can adopt it to your needs.

  4. Did you even read the article or at least the title, which is “Why the Europass is bad for your career”?!?!

    The author strongly discourage to use the Europass CV so why the hell should he mention Europass comes in word format?! This really puzzles me.

  5. Andrea, the point is the author stated incompatibility problems with Word and an inability to edit parts of the CV, but by simply downloading the Word format and filling it out yourself all these problems are circumvented. The author failed to acknowledge this, which is what I believe the previous commenter was talking was about.

    Also, I am sure the europass has been advertised as good for anyone in Europe, just like anyone who comes out with anything will encourage everyone to use it; but it is primarily designed and suited for EU-related jobs, or for applying to jobs overseas, so that there is a standardised format. It is completely beyond me why on earth any English speaker in London would use it to apply for a job that is not EU-related and does not require it, which begs the question why on earth mention such a hypothetical situation in an argument as the author did?

  6. I use the Europass as it has become a kind of standard here in Spain (for the internal labor market).

    However as Daniel stated, your recommendation should be focused on the really bad CV generation wizard, which is good for low skilled people but that should be adapted to your needs (using the Word template) otherwise.

    For example I adapted it removing the ugly Europass logo, using 2 cols for my personal data and language skills (as they were too long in the default scheme), giving the same importance to my education and to my internships and very little importance to my part time jobs.

  7. Martin,

    Good article, although I’d be interested to see you revisit the topic as it seems that a lot has changed with the Europass wizard. I’ve just made one and a few things are markedly different: there’s no place to attach a photo for one, you can click and drag to reorder entire sections and information within sections, the design has changed, and all the little boxes are gone (at least they are if you save it as a PDF – not sure why you’d even want to save it in Word as that negates the point of using a wizard in the first place).

  8. how to remove that europass logo? can anybody help?

  9. Europass = horrible CV.

    There is so much wasted space giving each field a title (Job Title, Industry, Years etc… – we can work this bit out for ourselves surely) and the formatting is just terrible.

  10. I don’t understand after this years, why Europass does not have being changed.

  11. Two things.

    Firstly, I can’t believe that people still persist in using this trash.
    Secondly, surely there must be some sort of converter tool out there that could extract the data and present it in a different format?

  12. The format is an absolute nightmare, with a bit of wizardry and some extra effort, you can manually edit in Word or as I did, in Illustrator. Unfortunately, re-editing your Europass CV takes longer than creating your resume directly in your desired format. The content is a whole different story and most of the time it is beyond understanding. E.g. Who needs the exact dates of you starting your work? Who even remembers that? Oh yes, my first job, six years back I think I started on 3rd September and my last day at work was let’s say 25th August. Is that really important? – The language section also takes up catastrophically much space, and the digital skills are ambiguous.

  13. It’s pretty amazing they (and subsequently all o’ya) are completely missing the entire point on the intentions. It’s not the friggin’ <> layout, it’s the structured embedded XML that’s the true idea behind EuroPass.

    That XML creates endless opportunities to work with in automated systems (such as job matchers, CV generator wizards etc) and is the foundation of rendering any document in any layout/markup you want, as long as you have your resume in structured data.

    However, that online wizard of theirs seems to be just about the only thing supporting the format. +5 for the bureaucrats on standarizing with a standard that only they themselves seem to support.

  14. The standard export layout of the Europass CV (which is an XML standard and can thus be theoretically exported to ANY layout) looks very different now compared to when this blog article was written. For an example image, see: https://www.sharelatex.com/templates/cv-or-resume/europass-cv . The Betty Smith example looks reasonable to me. The content is of course up to each individual to decide upon. I see no reason why it cannot be used for a CV that meets the requirements of Martin Jee.

    Note that there is no “social skills and competences” section in the standard template. There is personal skills, communication skills, organisational / managerial skills, job-related skills, and language skills. Of course language skills are relevant for EU jobs.

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