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International CV

If you want to work abroad, you can’t just go applying to jobs in random countries without thinking about the format, presentation, structure and content of your CV.

Not every country expects the same thing from a winning CV, so you need to think carefully about what employers in specific countries will want to see.

Your CV must be instantly understandable and the person reading it should be able to find out the right information quickly and easily. It’s not like talking to people in another country, where you might simply shout louder, move closer, gesticulate and draw a picture to make yourself understood.

It doesn’t work that way with a CV. After all, you can’t just use a big font and draw pictures all over your international CV to make it more understandable.

When it comes to applying for jobs internationally, the real key to success is to make sure you present your skills and experience in the most effective and culturally appropriate way possible.

Below are our top tips for writing an international CV. Check them out and then use them to apply to companies that offer international secondments, like these marvellous law firms.

Presentation…

Nitty-gritty details…

No matter where you’re applying for a job, the length of your CV should be the same (two pages), and the information should be presented in a clear and concise manner. It’s good practice to use a simple font like Arial, Tahoma or Verdana and describe your previous job responsibilities in a series of bullet points.

Format…

Despite there being some common similarities, employers from different cultures will usually expect CVs in different formats! Consequently, you need to make sure you find out exactly how you should present the information about your skills.

Employers in some countries might expect you to produce a CV in reverse-chronological order, while companies in other countries may prefer a functional CV, which groups your experiences together thematically.

Consequently, in order to make sure your CV contains the right information in the right format, it’s important that you do your research. You can find plenty of information online about the different CV formats for different countries. Try to find various examples, identify the common trends in their structure and format, and then apply these to your own offering.

Ask around…

It may also be a good idea to contact recruitment agencies that operate in the country where you intend to work and ask for their advice. Alternatively, you could even contact the HR department of the employer directly and see if they can offer any guidance. Failing that, you could even contact the embassy of the country where you want to work, as they will usually be more than happy to help you out!

Europass…

In order to facilitate the movement of talented workers across the 25 member states of the European Union (EU), the European Commission has implemented a new scheme called Europass.

This basically aims to standardise the application procedure for job applications across the European Union. If you use this free service, you will be able to put together a CV in a format which will be clear and understandable for all employers across the EU member states.

Writing your CV in a foreign language…

Understandably, you should write your CV in the native language of the country where you are applying for a position. If you want to work in France, you should write your CV in French; if you want to work in Spain, you should write your CV in Spanish; and if you want to work in Suriname, you should write your CV in Dutch! Simple.

Attention to detail…

This is your first chance to put your language skills to the test! You need to get everything right, as any grammatical errors and spelling mistakes will look extremely sloppy. Therefore, it’s a good idea to proofread your CV and check everything several times. If possible, you should also get a native speaker to check over the document for you.

American adventures…

Even if you’re applying for jobs in countries where English is the official language, you need to pay close attention to the finer details. For instance, if you apply for a job in the USA, you should use American English spellings.

A bit of both…

Some employers with an international presence may even require you to send two versions of your CV, one in English and one in the language of the country where you’re applying. If this is the case, it’s extremely important that you keep the format of the two CVs consistent.

Additional information to include…

Visa status…

It’s usually a good idea to declare your current visa status, so employers know instantly if you are eligible to work in their country. To work in certain countries like the USA, you may need to secure a job first and then the employer will sponsor your working visa. 

Contact details…

When you provide your telephone number, remember to include the international dialling code for the country where you live (e.g. +44 for the UK). This will help employers to contact you with minimal hassle.

Language skills section…

To verify your language skills, it may be useful to have a specific section that details your level of fluency, the institution where you studied, and how much time you’ve spent in countries which speak the language.

Photo…

Although you shouldn’t usually include a photo on your CV for jobs in the UK or the USA, many companies in European countries will expect you to include a picture of yourself.

Do your research though to make sure this is standard practice for the country where you’re applying. If you are required to include a photo, make sure you look friendly and presentable.

Good luck! Bonne chance! Buena suerte! Viel glück!