CV advice: Applying for jobs internationally
Right, so you’ve done your year abroad! You had an awesome time, met lots of interesting people, ate lots of food, drank far too much cheap wine, struggled to understand the flamboyant lecturer who spoke French at warp speed and arrived home with a new-found sense of worldly wisdom. Wait a second though! You also came back with a fistful of new skills which will enhance your CV and boost your chances of finding employment abroad. When it comes to applying for jobs internationally, the real key to success is to make sure you incorporate all of these fantastic new skills into your CV in the most effective and appropriate way possible. Hopefully, with our help, your experiences during your year abroad will be more than just a hazy, drunken memory; they’ll be vital for finding that all important first job outside the UK.
The beauty of doing a year abroad is that your newly-acquired international experience can set you up rather nicely for job opportunities in a foreign country. The additional language skills, confidence and cultural knowledge that you gained during your time away will allow you to integrate seamlessly into the organisations that you are applying to. However, when it comes to applying for jobs in a foreign country, it’s all about presenting your skills and experience in a culturally appropriate manner.
2. Nitty-gritty details
No matter where you’re applying for a job, the length of your CV should be the same (2 pages maximum), and the information should be presented in a clear and concise manner. It’s good practice to use a simple font like Arial and describe your previous job responsibilities in a series of bullet points.
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. As such, 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 CV.
4. 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 expert advice. Alternatively, you could even contact the HR department of the employer directly and ask them for some guidance. Failing that, you could also contact the embassy of the country where you want to work, as they will usually be more than happy to help you out!
In order to facilitate recruitment of talented people across the 25 member states of the European Union (EU), the European Commission has implemented a new CV-writing service called Europass. It 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 languageUnderstandably, 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.
6. 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 pretty slapdash. 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.
7. 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 spelling.
8. 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 a foreign language. If this is the case, it’s important that you keep the format of the two CVs consistent.
9. 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 only then will the employer sponsor you for a 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.
Here's some more CV advice, including tips on writing your CV in a foreign language:
- How to write your CV in German
- How to write your CV and cover letter in Spanish
- How to write your CV and cover letter in French