ChemistryViews.org and the Career Service of the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GDCh, German Chemical Society) asked international companies what they expect from applications, for example, for an entry-level position.
Dr.-Ing. Karin J. Schmitz, Career Service of the GDCh, and Dr. Vera Koester, ChemistryViews.org, talked with Peer Elger Schotmann, Global Executive Recruiting at Merck KGaA.
Mr. Schotmann, what should a curriculum vitae (CV) or résumé contain?
Firstly, a CV should contain personal information such as name, address, contact details, etc. as well as hobbies, community activities, and association memberships. The latter is optional to show your extracurricular/avocational activities. Of course, your educational background needs to be included: what/when/where you studied, which degree and what grades you achieved.
Graduates should also include when/where/with which majors/which degree school their education was completed. The career background should be included as well, starting with the most recent employment and its start/end date, the name of the employer, the job title, and job description in bullet points. Don’t forget to add your language skills!
Is it necessary to include a photograph?
Merck is a globalized company, so overall it is not mandatory to include a photograph.
Is a cover letter important? If yes, what information should a good cover letter convey?
Even though a cover letter is technically not mandatory, it is still highly recommended as it shows that you identify with the role. It should include how you learned about the role, your motivation for the position, and the possible contribution you could make. The cover letter should also include a very brief summary of your career background to date. The cover letter should be customized to suit the company and position to make the best impression.
What are the five most important things to consider regarding CVs/résumés and cover letters?
The most important things are a logical structure, completed in accordance with what is common use in your respective country, honesty, an attractive layout, and content. You should also be brief without sacrificing content. Make sure to focus on the most important aspects for the role you are applying for.
What are the things an applicant should definitely avoid?
To me, the following mistakes make a bad impression: spelling and factual mistakes, overselling, too much text, and generally when an opportunity to stand out is missed.
Unless you are applying for a particularly creative position, I recommend to choose a classic layout for a CV and cover letter, without fancy fonts and colors.
If I wanted to apply for a position at your company, how would I submit my application?
Most companies nowadays require online applications. I’d recommend you apply for a specific position – actually, don’t be shy about applying for multiple positions simultaneously if you see several that are interesting to you. If you don’t see any positions that seem attractive, you can register online and set a “job alert”, which will inform you about future job postings that match your criteria.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Sending an application means entering a competition, so we expect candidates to seize this opportunity to present and sell themselves in the best way possible and to show why we shouldn’t miss the opportunity to meet them in person.
Thank you very much for these insights.
Merck KGaA is a leading company for innovative, top-quality high-tech products in the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors. With its four divisions Merck Serono, Consumer Health, Performance Materials and Merck Millipore, Merck generated total revenues of around € 11.1 billion in 2013. Around 39,000 employees work for Merck in 66 countries to improve the quality of life for patients, to further the success of customers, and to help meet global challenges.
Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company – since 1668, the company has stood for innovation, business success and responsible entrepreneurship. Holding an approximately 70 % interest, the founding family remains the majority owner of the company to this day. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany is holding the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are Canada and the United States, where the company is known as EMD.