How to create a CV with international appeal

cv tips
You need the recruiter, wherever they are based, to be able to quickly understand who you are and what job you're applying for. Source: Jung Yeon-je/AFP

Whether you love to travel or you’re just looking for an exciting new lifestyle change, working abroad can be extremely rewarding. That said, it’s not as simple as looking up CV tips, listing job experiences and applying for jobs in whatever random country you feel like going to.

Not every country looks for the same thing in a CV and remember, some people may even be reading yours in their second language. As such, you need to spend time carefully crafting your CV getting the format, structure and content just right.

You need the recruiter, wherever they are based, to be able to quickly understand who you are and what job you’re applying for. You also need to communicate all of this through the paper as it’s unlikely you’ll be there in person to try and explain yourself by speaking slower or gesticulating.

This means you need to learn how to write a killer CV with international appeal. How can you do this? Below we’ll share some of our top CV tips.

The basics stay the same

As a general rule, no matter where you’re applying for a job the basic rules will stay the same. Your CV should be no longer than two A4 pages long and the text should not be too big or small. Choose an easy to read font, using subheadings and bullet points where necessary and always start by putting your name and contact details at the top.

cv tips

One of the most important CV tips is to never forget the basics, i.e. make your CV easy to read. Source: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP

Just remember, when including a phone number be sure to use the international dialling code for the country where you live. For example, in the UK this is +44.

Choose the right format

Despite the fact that all the sections of your CV will remain largely the same, the order in which they are structured could change significantly depending on the country you want to work in. Some will expect you to lead with your skills, employment history, and education, while others might not. Similarly, some like your CV to be in reverse chronological order, while others like a more functional format.

The best way to get around this is to do some research and see if you can find some example CVs from other countries. Nowadays there is plenty of advice online that can help you out with this.

Writing in a foreign language

If possible, you should write your CV in the native language, though we understand this isn’t always possible. If you speak the language, great! If not or if you’re still learning, don’t simply copy and paste into Google Translate as this could lead to some huge errors in the content. Instead, it pays to have someone who speaks the native language help you translate your CV or to read over it if you’ve written it yourself.

Shouting about your language skills

If you speak more than one language it can be a good idea to include a specific “languages” section in which you outline which languages you speak and your level of fluency. You should also include where you studied these and if you’ve ever lived in those native countries in the past.

Including a photo

cv tips

Hot CV tip: Use only smart photos, not wefies. Source: Sam Panthaky/AFP

In the UK and US, it is not customary to include a photo on your CV but in Europe and many other countries, it is. So again, do some research and find out if this is the case in your chosen location. Make sure to only include smart, professional-looking photos.

Visa status

Last but not least, it is often a good idea to include your visa status for your chosen country so the employer can see right away if you’re eligible to take on the job. Visa requirements differ across the globe, with some requiring you to have a job or sponsorship before entering the country. So be sure to do your research and make sure you’ve completed the required applications before beginning your job search.

Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to publications like Business Insider, The Guardian, and The Independent.