How Do I Develop A Good International CV?

Agony Aunt 10 Jan 2013
How Do I Develop A Good International CV?

This week we have a question regarding updating a CV, and in particular ‘how do I develop a good International CV‘ for an international position. There are many guides and tutorials floating around about how to update your CV, how to make it stand out and shine to your potential employer, but sometimes the best tricks are the simplest and formatting your CV correctly is key – forget using fancy designs, multi-colours or ‘new age’ fonts, stick to a simple, yet professional look and you’ll be sitting at your new desk in no time. Updating Your CV *we do not own the rights to this image.

How Do I Develop A Good International CV?

Dear Emma, I believe I have had a very successful international career full of experience and track record. I believe this will make my CV stand out from the crowd. My CV generates interest from national firms but I’m looking more for an international opportunity. How do I develop a good international CV? This question will be relevant for many of my clients especially those who are looking to start their international careers or just relocate. This question asks about making the CV more internationally friendly but whether you are looking to move abroad or stay in the same place it is still important that your CV reflects your professionalism and ambition; by taking head of the advice below you will be off to a good start. I always say your CV is the foundation of your job hunt so it is vital that you make sure you know how to adapt it to the country and culture you are applying for. It will be the first impression you make to a future employer or recruitment agent so you do not want to be discounted for simple rectifiable mistakes. Never assume that your career will speak for itself, it won’t; just because your a President of a company it will mean nothing if it is on the 5th page of your CV. If you are applying to a number of different areas then you need to make sure that you understand what each country will or will not require within a CV. In Asia you are expected to have a photo and list a number of personal details such as nationality, date of birth, marital status, religion and the number of dependants, in the US or Europe this would be frowned upon and I would strongly suggest you do not include these details. The same goes for cover letters – although they are not necessarily required in other parts of the world in Europe it is more important and suggests that you have an attention to detail and are happy to go the extra mile. Below is a list of cardinal rules that you must follow when formatting your CV for national or international job hunts alike:

1. A CV should not be more that 2 pages – maybe 3, at a maximum. A lot of my clients ask how their CV’s can be that short when they have had such long careers – the trick here is only to include jobs over the last 10 years, anything else can be a list of just the name of the company and job title. Most employers will not care too much about what you did over ten years ago and if they do you can provide the information when you are further down the interview line. A CV of this length will be acceptable anywhere with an international business center.

2. Remove any ‘Objective’. When my clients first come to me with their CV’s they often start with ‘My Objective’ but beware, this does not sit well with

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employers as they are not looking to help you fill any life long ambition. What they want to know is can you do the job so highlight this and your commitment to the job to them, not your personal goals. I would suggest a list of your Core – Competencies.

3. No comic fonts or multi colours. This is an easy trap to fall into as you attempt to make your CV more eye catching, but do not do it. Ensure your CV uses black text and stick to a normal font such as Arial – remember this is a professional document and your career history should not be overshadowed by your font colour.

4. If you are applying for a job internationally highlight past experience with international clients or languages that you speak. If you speak 5 languages make sure it is right at the top of your CV!

5. Always adapt your CV to the job your are applying for – it is not good enough to simply send the same one again and again especially if you are at a Senior level. Always highlight your expertise that is relevant to the job you are applying for.

6. Always get a second opinion. The Executive Coaches here at Career Intelligence always urge their clients to get their CV read by a friend first – if the friend can’t guess what job they are applying for within 15 seconds then it means that the CV is not clear enough and the employer will most likely be unsure too. If this is the case then you will find no matter how many jobs you apply for you will never get a response.

It is often worth while having your CV professionally written, especially if English is your second language. This way you can be certain you understand how to adapt it and use it to your advantage. What you need is a document you are proud of so when an opportunity arises you have a CV ready to go. But beware, there are many companies who sell CV’s cheap; these CV’s are everywhere, instantly recognisable and often littered with mistakes. If you do purchase a CV writing package make sure you speak directly with the person who is writing your CV, you will quickly be able to judge if you think their English is of a decent standard. If there is a mistake on your CV, no matter how small, it will reflect badly on you and will be enough to discount you completely. As the saying goes you pay for what you get! Emma Foster, Senior Client Relationship Manager Have a question for Emma? Be sure to email Emma here. Alternatively you can follow Emma on Twitter here. Don’t forget to watch our Career Managers coaching videos here on our blog or on our YouTube channel. Our Senior Career Managers have created a range of hot tips for reformatting your CV, preparing yourself for the interview of your life and much more. Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you get the first look at each new video as it’s released! You can watch the video on ‘Updating Your CV’ with one of our Senior Executive Career Managers, Colin Duncan, here: Watch the video with Colin Duncan to learn more about updating your CV.


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About the author


Emma is the Senior Relationship Manager at Career Intelligence. She is also the Agony Aunt for the Career Intelligence blog, helping with any questions or issues that expatriates moving abroad may have.


  1. Midhu
    January 23, 2013 at 10:42 am

    really worth of reading it…thank you

  2. Emma
    January 24, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Thank you for the kind words, Midhu! We’re really pleased you found the article useful.

  3. Stephen Waters
    June 19, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Hi Emma, I read with interest many of the articles and in particular, Linkedin advice! I will read through all the documents this evening and get back to you.

    I must say that at a quick glance, that there is plenty for me to think about as I really want my profile and CV to get noticed globally. i have vast experience working overseas, particulary in The Russian Federation and I am keen to to work there again.

    Regards. Steve Waters

  4. Emma
    June 20, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you very much for the comment, it’s great to hear that you found many of our articles interesting. We have another article which will be posted later today which should be of interest to you too!

    I have sent you a direct email using the email address that you have listed so please do look out for that.

    Many thanks,


  5. Balouch
    June 23, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Respected Mam,
    Please advise; how can I build my CV in a professional way? Best wishes,

  6. Samir Atalla
    July 3, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Some great and important points raised.

    Thanks again for the tips Emma.

  7. Jamie
    February 20, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Hi Balouch,

    The best thing to do is visit and explain your job hunting issues in the comment box. Someone will be in touch with you ASAP to assist you.

    Many thanks,