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Nailing that international CV to land your next job abroad

11 January, 2016

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Date of Publication: 11 January, 2016
Applying for a job abroad means you have to prove yourself even more: against your competitors, who can call home a place that is completely unknown to you and against the recruiters, who have to run an extra mile in order to hire a foreign person. So, how do you stand out? And how do you get the recruiter’s attention in the first place?

Rule 1 - Do your research

Chances are you are not the first foreigner to apply for a job in your target country. Most countries provide information on dedicated websites, but you should also look for blogs run by expats - and don’t be afraid to ask your local contacts.

Don’t have an international network? Build one (see rule 5)!

Search for both technical specifications and knowledge on local work culture to find the right tone for your CV.

Rule 2 - Stick to local customs

Once research is done, you can compile your CV (or “resume” if you apply for a non-academic job in the US) and cover letter.

Pay extra attention to what is expected in some countries but should be avoided in others, such as pictures or marital status, required in France or China but not to be included when applying in US or UK due to anti-discrimination laws. Length is also something to take good care of, since US recruiters will look for one-page resumes while Europeans will likely accept a two page document.

And don’t forget to include your work permit situation!

Consider local work culture when assessing your skills and achievements. That independent attitude, so strongly sought after in some countries, could rub people in the wrong way in others.

Rule 3 - Know what your target is looking for

Unless you offer some niche knowledge that can’t be found locally, your technical abilities are less likely to win you a job than your workplace attitude and your cross-cultural skills.

Spend some lines to emphasize your language proficiency (in any language: it shows that you are a professional learner), international experience and people skills.

Rule 4 - Build your international brand

Your CV is part of a self-branding strategy.

Recruiters will likely run a search on LinkedIn or other professional networks: if you have a profile, boost it up. If you don’t, consider making one.

These networks can also be a great place to gather information about work culture in your target country: a profile there can bring some valuable extra help.

Rule 5 - Use some help

Always ask a native speaker to review your CV for typos, proper language and tone.

If you happen to know a designer, ask his/her opinion on the readability of your document. Is the font too small? Is there enough visual emphasis on the important bits?

Recruiters are busy people and will discard your perfect profile if they can’t read what your CV is about.

Extra Rule - Where there’s a will, there’s a way

You are willing to challenge yourself by working in a foreign country. This tells a lot about your attitude, and this is what recruiters are mostly looking for.

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