Having lived and worked abroad for numerous years — now in the UK, I’ve had the good fortune to work with clients from the four corners of the world. Clients who are relocating to the UK/EU from the US, or vice versa, frequently pose questions such as “What are the differences between US resumes and UK/international curriculum vitae (CVs)? Will I be required to provide a ten-page document with ALL of my personal and career history listed, plus the kitchen sink?” Fear not! I’m going to shed some light on this topic from what I’ve picked up over the last few years.
Most Americans have the understanding that a CV is a multi-page (more than 3 pages) document used in academic, medical, legal, research, and media circles with in-depth content listing education credentials, certifications, licenses, awards, honors, presentations, publications, grants, patents, and affiliations. In the states, that’s true. However, British and some other international professionals apply the term CV broadly to what we Americans (as well as Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, Singaporeans, Japanese, and Indians) differentiate as resumes. Although, some of these countries use CVs and resumes interchangeably, depending on the job sector, and with varying lengths. I’ll be covering this topic in Part II.
In the UK and other countries in the EU, CVs range from a one-page brief to an extensive career dossier; it all depends on the type of role or reason for which the document has been created. Other European countries accept slightly longer CVs than UK standards require.
For those requiring more information on UK/EU CVs, go to Europass
CV, which will lead you to 26 country-specific samples of a more standardized CV format created for job seekers targeting jobs within the EU — based on the Europass job portfolio concept. I’ve noticed this format being used more by recruiters.
Regardless, a job seeker should conduct a due diligence on country requirements first, before launching a full-scale job-search campaign in a new job market. Country standards and preferences can be surprisingly divergent. For example, UK job candidates no longer attach photos to their CVs; whereas, if you’re applying for a job in Germany, research suggests that 67% of CVs without photographs fall through. Moreover, the UK job market tolerates a more informal CV approach with a competency-based list of accolades. In France, on the other hand, more formalized CVs highlighting education and professional roles are a necessity.
Then we have CVs for emigration purposes, which are expected to detail a comprehensive personal and professional history. There is no mandated page limit to these. These types of CVs DO include more personal information (e.g., summary of personal details such as nationality, DOB, marital status, and number of dependents, as well as a list of hobbies and interests). This practice is no longer used for general UK CVs due to antidiscrimination laws. The following link to the UK government website, National Careers Service provides some practical information, CV templates, and other links to immigration policies and career management tools/sites for job seekers looking for work in the UK. When using CVs for overseas applications, candidates MUST highlight Visa status — that is vital!
In Part II, I’ll be breaking down styles and preferences even further into specific differentiators.