How to format your CV for different countries

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The term ‘CV’ is most common in the United Kingdom. The terms ‘resume’ and ‘curriculum vitae’ are rarely used. They are very strict when it comes to length, your CV is not meant to exceed two pages and it should mainly consist of facts and numbers.
curriculum vitae

Sometimes we feel a need to change or expand on our life experience by seeking new opportunities abroad. When it comes to applying for jobs internationally, the real key to success is to make sure that you properly highlight your core skills, experience, achievements, and value adds.

Not every country has the same expectations of a winning CV, so you need to think carefully about what employers in specific countries will want to see. You can’t be applying for jobs internationally without thinking about the format, presentation, structure, and content of your CV.

In this article, we will explore how CV’s are to be formatted for the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Europe (as a whole)
  • United Kingdom
  • USA
  • South Africa
Australia CV

Australia

The Aussies seem to like their CV simple and straight to the point, they are more like the Americans because they do not include personal information on their CVs. Generally, the CV follows the following format:

  • Personal Statement
  • Skills
  • Career History – emphasis on key achievements per role
  • Education usually comes in right at the end of the CV along with training and professional development

Europe

Europeans are great with CV designs; their CVs are aesthetically pleasing and does include a picture.  Basic content is pretty much similar to other countries, but creativity is the order of the day as this region is less uptight about the use of colour. This is one of the few regions (similar to SA) that includes personal information and hobbies/interests in their CV. The CVs are far more human and less cold than other stricter countries.

In Italy, hobbies are not included, and male applicants are required to state if they served in the military. So, you will need to check the requirements of the specific country you are applying for.

United Kingdom (UK)

The term ‘CV’ is most common in the United Kingdom. The terms ‘resume’ and ‘curriculum vitae’ are rarely used. They are very strict when it comes to length, your CV is not meant to exceed two pages and it should mainly consist of facts and numbers.  Unlike the Europeans, on a British CV a picture is not expected. The following information should be included:

  • Personal Information
  • Work Experience (with dates, starting with the most recent job)
    • Mention your achievements in each position – important milestones and quantifiable data are more impressive than daily duties.
  • Education (stating centers, dates and places, but not grades)
    • Your education section should come after your work experience, unless you graduated very recently.
  • Skills
  • Languages

USA

To the Americans, a résumé is a short document about the candidate and a ‘CV’ usually refers to a long, detailed document mostly used for jobs in academia. Most likely, this is not what you will need when applying for a job in America – a two-page résumé will be sufficient.

The Americans want their CVs simplified short and straight to the point, no need for personal information or a picture and this is due to strict privacy laws.

South Africa

South Africans prefer seeing whom they may potentially hire upfront. If your CV does not reveal enough about you, the recruiter or employer will probably search you online before investing their time in an interview. A picture is not mandatory, and neither is your personal information (i.e. marital status or religion), I highly recommended you not include information that could invoke prejudice against you.

An example is including that you are married with kids could work for or against you, depending on the role you are applying for. If you choose to include this info, you could be seen as stable and reliable, or as inflexible and tied down which could be an issue in roles requiring travel. So, this is a huge gamble and unless you are putting your CV in the hands of professionals that are well versed in these things, rather err on the side of caution.

 AustraliaEuropeUKUSASouth Africa
Personal informationNOYESNONOYES
Use of a pictureNOYESYES /NONOYES / NO
ReferencesYESYESYESNOYES
DesignProfessionalProfessionalProfessionalSimpleProfessional
Length2 – 4 Pages2 Pages2 – 3 Pages2 Pages2 – 4 Pages

The future suggests differently, CVs will soon be standard across international borders given the rise of website résumé, soon everyone will be sharing their picture like it is already happening on LinkedIn. The key to a great CV is not one thing, but a combination of professional writing, a great design, a perfect layout, great skills, and experience amongst other things.

In conclusion, drafting your own CV can prove difficult, so I recommend consulting a professional writer for quality outcome. To ensure you adhere to the basic formats, we are happy to evaluate your current résumé or curriculum vitae and offer you Free expert advice and recommendations.

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