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Want To Work Abroad – 5 Top Tips For Adapting Your CV

Adapting your CV
Are you seeking a new adventure, looking to travel or live abroad, but still need to be active in the job market? Gaining a career abroad could make your dream of living in another country a reality.

Written exclusively for Expat Network by Andrew Fennell, the founder of StandOut CV


However, if you want to get hired abroad, understanding what’s expected of you within the recruitment process is vital. So, check out these 5 top tips for making your CV ready for the international market.


Adjust your CV to the country

Every country has their own CV standards, which you’ll need to adapt to. Whilst UK companies look for CVs of 2 sides of A4 without headshots, other countries expectations are very different, so make sure to do some research.

While you’ll need to do some more thorough investigation into your chosen destination, here’s a round-up of the general CV ‘rules’ for some popular expat countries:

  • Central Europe: 1-2 pages, include a professional photo, list your qualifications before your experience.
  • USA: Known as a resumé, 1 page for recent graduates or 2 pages for experienced professional, no photo required.
  • Australia: Longer CVs (up to 4 pages) are expected for senior candidates, photos generally aren’t required.
  • South Africa: Require a ‘brief profile’ in the first instance, which is 1-page CV, then a ‘comprehensive CV’ after, which is longer and more detailed. No photo required.


Tailor to the Industry

Whilst formatting, terminology and language all vary in each country, there is one rule that is universal. Tailoring your CV to the role, company and industry you’re pursuing is essential, regardless of where you’re applying for positions.

Before submitting any application, review the sector and job requirements and aim to make your CV custom fit. Ultimately, your CV should match you up to the candidate requirements as closely as possible.

Include sector specific strengths and skills throughout, showcasing how you perfectly fit that industry. You can also research company websites, social media platforms and industry specific websites or blogs to further tailor your CV to suit.


Showcase your language skills

Whilst English is understood in many countries, it’s only the third most spoken language. With Chinese and Spanish overtaking English in popularity, it’s vital to expand your language skills.

Additionally, it’s obviously a huge plus point to speak the language of the country you’re moving to. So, feature your language skills throughout your CV, making it clear whether you’re fluent, have a basic understanding or are a conversational speaker.

If applicable, you should also consider dedicating a section of your CV to scoring your ability to communicate in a variety of languages. International employers are always looking for candidates that are multilingual, so make sure your language skills stand out.


Highlight your soft skills

When moving abroad, it’s critical to emphasise your soft skills, such as:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Problem solving
  • Multicultural adaptability
  • Confidence and resilience
  • Cultural awareness
  • Adaptability

You’ll be moving away from everything and everyone you know, so employers need to know you’re up for the challenge.

But, merely documenting a list of skills isn’t enough to stand out from the competition. Go further and show your skills by adding applicable examples.

For example, instead of saying that you have strong interpersonal skills, you could verify this by stating: ‘While working as a youth club counsellor, a group of girls weren’t getting along, so I split up the group and assigned new teams, which cultivated new friendships.’

Using specific facts and figures will help to qualify your soft skills, giving recruiters more confidence in your ability to pack up and move abroad.


Have a strong structure

Wherever you’re looking for roles, having a strong, well-defined structure is a key component in getting noticed. A poor CV format could result in your tailored experience and skills being overlooked, so it’s important to focus on your CV’s appearance.

Big blocks of text can be tedious to read, so break it down with headers, bullet points and sections. This will enable ease of reading, and will help to guide recruiters through your experience, compelling them to read on.

Make it simple for recruiters to see why you’re the perfect candidate, keeping the most essential information to the top of the page and ensuring the page as a whole is easy to navigate.