Tailor your CV for the International Job Market

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If you want to apply for jobs overseas there are several issues that you have to be aware of when creating your CV.

What stays the same?

Of course there needs to be certain basic information on every CV you create. So wherever you are be applying for work, always remember to include the following:

  • Your name and contact details
  • A list of your qualifications
  • Your job history
  • Names and addresses of referees

What might change?

The length of your CV could vary depending on the requirements of different countries. In the UK, in a non-academic environment, a CV of 1-2 pages is considered ideal, but overseas this is not the case. For example, CVs for a job in Russia often contain a large amount of prose, going into great detail about your work experience and Greek CVs can also be up to five pages long.

Including a photo and personal details is not advisable when applying for work in the UK or the US because employers do not want information that might contravene discrimination law. However, in other countries, Germany for instance, including a photo with your CV is normal. Some Asian countries look for CVs that explain your religion or your health status. Including information about your gender, race and age is also something that needs to be considered carefully.

Your work status: you might wish to explain your work/immigration status to that country. This can be included either on your CV or in a covering letter.

Style: some countries such as the US and increasingly the UK want a CV in which you ‘sell yourself’ so do not be shy. Other countries place more emphasis on the factual nature of your job history. A CV for a Japanese job should not include a lot of detail about your skills and experience; your qualifications will be much more important to them.

Language: If you are applying to a country where English is not a predominant language then have your CV and cover letter translated into the local language. Send both a native and English language version of your documents.

To sum up:

The key bit of advice here is ‘do your research’! Make sure you know about the company/institution you are applying to, and the employment and economic conditions of the country. That way you can tailor your CV appropriately and emphasise the aspects that the selection team will be looking for.

In order to do this research check the internet for the current employment conditions and culture in the country. Also make a connection with someone in the Human Resources department of the company or institution you are applying to. They will advise you on what exactly is required with your application. In some countries it is much easier to apply for a job by going through an international employment agency. If you are going down this route then you will be able to ask them for advice on tailoring your CV.

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