Navigation auf

Career Services at the University of Zurich

CEP Phase 1: Organization, Planning and First Documents


A successful job search is not something that happens on the side in a few free minutes. It takes time and dedication, even on the days when you don't feel like it (especially on the days when you don't feel like it!).

Reserve dates

So open your agenda and start reserving time for the tasks. For each of the coming weeks, reserve 90 minutes of your time to complete the tasks. You can also block 2x45 minutes or 3x30 minutes. Smaller time slots are not suitable.

Activate the information sources

Activate the information sources on social media, to keep you up to date during the application phase. We post regular news on

We also send a monthly newsletter to all students who have a profile on

Follow us and you will receive the latest news conveniently delivered to you.

Folder structure

The application process is always a battle of documents too. At the end of the program, you should have a generally valid folder structure in which you have prepared application documents.

Collect your documents

You may already have the application documents, so you can store them in the following structure:

  1. CV
  2. Cover letters
  3. University and high school certificates and diplomas: Master's certificate, Bachelor's certificate, and Matura (high school) certificate, for safety's sake also the performance records of your current program
  4. Testimonials, job references, and confirmations Do you have them all? If not then you have to claim them. Write an email to your former employers, they have to send you a job reference or a confirmation of employment (list of your completed tasks without evaluation) until 10 years after the end of your employment. Sometimes it is helpful if you send a draft with your tasks, as sometimes the employers do not remember exactly what you have done. It is important that you are able to provide evidence from a third party of all the information you have entered in your CV.
  5. Confirmations and certificates of further education
  6. Confirmations and certificates of IT courses
  7. Confirmations and certificates of language courses
  8. Confirmations for your volunteer work. At you can download templates, fill them in and have them signed (Attention: german only, Nachweis = title page)  
  9. Photo: Maybe you have several pictures available. Here are some considerations
  10. Official documents: When you get hired, you will be asked for various official documents (passport, AHV-IV insurance card, residence permit, bank details).
  11. Other resources: articles, blog entries, lectures, websites etc., anything else you may have done.

Document names

Name all documents so that you can send them immediately. This means: with full name and content.

An initial timeplanning

To get a rough idea of the time frame, write down your most important dates in an agenda. Use an agenda in which you see 6 or 12 months on one page.

  • When do you want to start your job?
  • When do you plan to complete your studies?
  • Last examination date
  • Phase in which you have time to apply
  • Holidays
  • other obligations (work commitments, official duties, etc.)

How to define your goals

A helpful tool for planning your goals is the SMART method. This could look like this:

Level Description Examples

Formulate goals as concretely and specifically as possible 

Send application (instead of applying) Conduct interviews with people I do not yet know (instead of expanding my network)


Determine qualitative and quantitative measurement parameters

Send 2 applications for which I have received feedback.

I will identify 5 interesting people in 2 weeks and I have written to 3 of them.


Plan in such a way that you also have the desire to achieve the goals

Let yourself be inspired, for example here at Watchado or here funny application or here application fails(we disclaim any liability)


Feasibility within the time and with the means available

Not: "I am sending 20 applications this week" or "I can find a job within a week"


Targets are timed

Until end of week / until end of month / until 31 May

There are different interpretations of SMART. In our opinion, the variant used here fits the Career Engagement.

First Documents

Now you should have an overview of your existing documents. Maybe you had your references at hand, saved your certificates of achievement and already had written the first draft of a CV.

Take your time to create or complete your CV by thinking about how to make your competences visible in the CV.

Note: Please be aware that the following information is dedicated to applications in Switzerland. For applications in other countries, we strongly recommend you to do some research.

Your Story

The image below is meant to guide you through the Career Empowerment Program and inspire you on how to tell your story and convey as concrete a picture of yourself as possible.

Your Story

Maybe you have already gained some valuable experience or you want to emphasize certain skills. Think about how you want to be perceived during the whole application process. Always try to show your competences with concrete examples, e.g. "sense of responsibility and team spirit as a coach of the volleyball team" instead of "responsible" and "team player". It is important to prove and not to claim.


The CV (curriculum vitae) is your business card with which you make the decisive first impression. Most personnel managers first look at the CV, then at the rest of the application documents including the letter of motivation. Make sure that your CV is attractively designed and written without mistakes. Your CV should also be adapted to the job advertisement and the skills required in the advertisement should be highlighted.


No matter how individual your CV may be, on the following page in our career planning guide you will find our sample CV templates (in German only) as a starting point:

CARL: Content - Action - Result - Learning

Do you know the interviewing technique popular with HR staff

Context – Action – Result – Learning?

The point is that you always should try to demonstrate your skills using concrete examples, starting with your application documents and ending with a job interview. This is the only way for the person reading your CV or conducting the interview to understand what you have to offer. Based on your experience you can tell your story and score points to the recruiters.


Here you can find an example:




Other topics popular with HR managers are questions about "responsibility", "success", "ability to work under pressure", "challenge", "ability to deal with conflict and criticism".


The questions in the interview could be as follows:

"Can you tell me about a situation in which you had to take on great responsibility? How did you proceed? What did you get out of it? Were you able to learn something for yourself from this experience?"

"In every team, there are sometimes situations of conflict. Could you describe such a conflict to me? What was the initial situation, what did you do, what was the result? Would you have done anything differently in hindsight?"


Tip: try to write down your experiences continuously and add them to your list. It is so easy to forget what you have achieved and learned. This way you avoid that no examples come to your mind during a job interview and under time pressure.

Your own examples

Now try to think up stories about your skills and strengths according to your experience. What was the context, how did you proceed, what did you get out of it and what did you learn or would you do differently next time? Perhaps an example of weakness (or things you want to improve) comes to mind? In the following table you can write down your notes (for better use you can download the pptx from the teaser on this webpage)


CARL Own example


Once you have put together a few examples, try to include them in your CV. You may have shown perseverance and the ability to accept criticism in a particular project, proven service-mindedness and loyalty in a study job or commitment and a sense of responsibility in a volunteer assignment. Remember to mention your experiences from your last summer job, from your engagement in the sports club or volunteering and list your respective tasks in bullet points. You can find examples of these in the sample CV mentioned above.


And rest assured: no employer expects a university graduate to have 3 years of relevant work experience!

End of Phase 1 Organization, Planning, First Documents

Did you get this far? Very good, then you have organized yourself so that you can tackle the next phases efficiently and without losing time!

Send us a screenshot of your folder structure and a draft of your CV: 

and we'll give you short feedback.

Next Monday you will receive the next assignment. Until then we wish you all the best.

Your UZH Career Services

Weiterführende Informationen

Call to action

Call to action

Send me a screenshot of your folder structure and your schedule and get in touch regarding any additional questions you might have:

Further information

Further information

Enlarged images of the structure







Further information

Further information

In our career planning guide you will find a lot more useful information on creating your application dossier.




In this table you can write down your own examples.