12 Oct 5 Tips on how to write a great English CV
In the last decades the world has become more and more accessible. The internet has made it possible to share information and to communicate with someone on the other end of the world within seconds. English is the most used language in the western world internet, even between people that speak other languages English is most often used to communicate with people that speak another language. In recent years more and more job advertisements are posted in English and require an English job application, even in non-English speaking countries. Therefore it is important to create an English Curriculum Vitae (CV) and have it ready for when it is required to use in your job applications. We tend to postpone this until the last moment. By then setting up your English CV will cost you precious time that you rather would have spent on writing your cover letter or preparing for your job interview.
Do you have any international career ambitions or you are looking for a job in a multinational company? You have to invest time in your English CV before you start the job hunt. But where to start? Here are a couple of tips to help you off to a good start.
1. Don’t just throw your CV document in an online translator
Most of the work on your English CV will go into the translation itself. You probably already have a great CV in your own local language and you want your English CV to be just as sharp. Be careful with using online translation tools like Google translate. A literal translation can result in weird sentences and awkward choice of words.
You can’t find the right words or the right tone? You can learn a lot from just reading English job adverts related to your field of business. Job adverts can give you a lot of insight into the common language recruiters use in your field of work. Don’t just read the job adverts you would apply to. Worldwide there are so many English job adverts in your field of work, use them as a source of information.
2. Find English job descriptions in job posts similar to the position you are applying to.
You can’t find the right words or the right tone of voice? You can learn a lot from just reading English job posts that are related to your field of business. Job posts can give you a lot of insight into the common language recruiters use in English. Don’t just read the job adverts you would apply to. Worldwide there are so many English job adverts available in your field of work, use them as a source of suggestions that can help you to find the right tone of voice for your CV or Cover Letter.
3. Divide your CV into sections
The most common format for an English CV has the following sections:
- Personal details (or Contact details). Put your name, address, e-mail and telephone number here. Add your birth date, nationality and marital status when applying for a job in Europe.
- Personal profile or Personal statement (or Objectives). Short summary of the key elements of your experience, qualifications, skills, personal characteristics and career objectives. (5 lines max)
- Professional experience (or work experience, employment history): List of Job title, start and end date, company name, key responsibilities and achievements. Use reverse chronological order to sum up your experience. Try to keep the sentences short.
- Education: Use reverse chronological order. Try to give a good indication of the academic level of your local education. The educational system in your country might not be common knowledge in other countries. Put your education before your professional experience if you are a graduate or starter.
- Skills: Give an indication of skills like language skills, computer skills or other personal skills.
- Extracurricular activities (or Awards / Publications): Use this section only if the information is relevant for the position you are applying to. Relevant activities can be voluntary work, activities that show leadership like coaching a team or positions that show expertise like being member of a commission.
- Personal interests or hobbies: Name hobbies, sports, cultural interests here. Be careful not to select any hobbies that are irrelevant or might possible harm your application.
4. Things to add or take off your English CV
Using your photo on your CV or Resume is getting more and more common and accepted. However when you are applying for a job in the United Kingdom or the United States it is better create a CV or Resume without a photo. Adding personal information like your birth date, nationality and marital status is common practice on a European CV. But in the United States this kind of private information is normally not shared on the Resume. However as a foreigner applying for an international position, remember to always include your nationality on your CV or Resume.
5. Curriculum Vitae (CV) or Resume
How to call your document? In English there are two terms that are commonly used; Curriculum Vitae (or CV) or Resume. The term Curriculum Vitae comes from Latin and literally means “Course of life”. In Europe the most common name used is Curriculum Vitae. In North America, Australia or New Zealand both names are used, but the term Resume is the most common. In the North America, Australia and New Zealand the term CV is specifically used for academic, scientific or research working areas. The American style CV is longer and has a more detailed overview of information than the Resume. When you are applying in Europe, it is safe to always use the term CV. In North America, Australia and New Zealand most people will use the term Resume, except when you are applying in an academic, scientific or research working area, where it is best to use “CV”. In other parts of the world, like Australia, South-Africa and India the terms CV and Resume are interchangeable. If you want to know more about the differences between the Curriculum Vitae and the Resume, you can read our full post about this topic here.
When to use a English CV?
It might be obvious that you need to send an English CV when you are applying for a job in the UK or any other English speaking country. But there are other situations in which the English CV is the best choice. Always send and English job application when this is requested in the job post. It is also best to use your English CV when the job post itself is written in English. When you are apply for job in an international company it might not always be necessary to send your application in English, but make sure to have an English version of your CV ready, they could ask for it in a later stage of the job application process.