What are the secrets to creating a great CV for the UK job market?
Here are some quick CV tips and tricks…
To help Aussie and Kiwi professionals heading to the UK on their OE, Global Career HQ offers guidance on how to prepare your CV for the UK job market, and provide a free UK CV guide and template.
Trust us, we know what we are talking about here! We’ve helped a lot of Aussie and Kiwi professionals adapt their CVs for the UK job market. Since 2000 we’ve helped more than 30,000 people find work in the UK, and getting your CV in the right format is where the journey begins.
What are the secrets to constructing a great CV for the UK job market?
Use our FREE UK CV guide and template
There can be an awful lot to cram into a CV of just two to four pages.
Based on our experience and feedback from leading UK recruiters and employers to whom we have introduced people over the years, we have developed a UK CV guide and template specifically for the UK job market.
To help you get started with updating your CV and translating it into a widely accepted UK CV format, download our free UK CV template and follow our tips and advice below.
Tailor it to the UK job market
Based on our UK CV template which is widely used, well received and a great starting point for tailoring your CV for the UK job market, we have set out tips and advice for writing a UK CV under the following sections:
1. Personal details
Essential information to include within the Personal Details section of your CV are:
Your email address and a phone number (preferably your current one and the one for your destination country). If you are working directly with one of our consultants, they will put their email address.
Where you were born or where you hold citizenship for. NB. If you hold both New Zealand and UK passports list both nationalities.
This is extremely important! This shows that you are legally able to work in your chosen country.
Note: If you have not received your visa yet, list the visa applied for as ‘pending’. If possible, list when you expect to receive a decision on your visa. If you have already used a portion of your visa, then you must also say how much longer you are eligible to work eg. Tier 5 – Valid to 13 December 2023
Profile photo (optional)
In many countries a photo is not preferred as if there is a photo on a CV an agency or potential employer opens themselves to the potential liability of being age / sex / race discriminative. Additionally, photos can sometimes clog up databases or computer systems or make your document difficult to open.
Your age / religion / sex / marital status (optional)
It is not imperative to include these details on CV’s in most countries due to age discrimination laws. The Middle East is an exception to this.
2. Key transferable skills
One of the most important parts of your CV. Key transferable skills relate to experience and skills you have gained in your work to date which are transferable to a new country or new role.
Aim to keep these as “HARD” skills or experience rather than “SOFT” skills. Anyone can say they are an “excellent team player”, however this can only be proven through performance. “Four years’ experience working in a Big 4 CA firm” or “Proficient in working with Risk Management Procedures, including Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX)” are examples of “hard” experience/skills. See below for further examples.
Examples of appropriate key transferable skills:
X years’ experience in a top XXX firm
Experience working within the following industries: (Oil & Gas, Media, Financial Services, etc.)
International experience gained through secondment to XXX
Solid communication skills, both written and verbal to clients, peers and management (this is the only “soft skill” we recommend including here)
Examples of inappropriate key transferable skills:
Excellent time keeper
Friendly and personable
3. Technology skills
Due to the growing use of semantic search and AI technologies for sifting through CVs, include all IT skills and levels of proficiency that you have, however broad.
|Microsoft Office365||PowerPoint: Proficient||Word: Advanced|
|Excel: Proficient||Specific cloud based applications||Web-based tools|
|IT languages & levels of proficiency||Salesforce CRM & level of proficiency||WordPress CMS & levels of proficiency|
|XERO certification||Audit or Accounting applications||Typing speed if administrative work is a fair portion of your job|
4. Professional qualifications
List in bold any professional body where you hold a membership or are studying towards one. List the year you became a member in the left column. These are crucial as often employers use these as their first cut in qualifying candidates.
- Chartered Accountants New Zealand and Australia
- Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
- Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRINZ)
- Institute of Professional Engineers of New Zealand (IPENZ)
- Admitted to the High Court of New Zealand as a Barrister / Solicitor
- Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI)
- Australian Direct Marketing Association (ADMA)
- Admitted as a Barrister / Solicitor in Queensland / NSW / VIC etc
Note: An MBA or PHD is an academic qualification, not a professional membership. These details should be listed under Education and Qualification.
5. Personal interests
It is important to show some personal interests to prove that you have a good work life balance and are a well-rounded person. Additionally, these serve as an icebreaker in an interview and give an idea of who you are as a person. Personal interests can also offer potential leads to a role in an organisation that may have an involvement in your interests.
List these in linear form and keep to a maximum of two or three. If there is not room for these on the first page then move them to the last, just above your referees.
Examples of personal interests:
- Literature (specifically 19th century)
- International travel (you could list countries you have visited …. but do not go overboard)
- Outdoor activities such as kayaking and rock climbing
- Volunteer work you do
List your education from your highest qualification to lowest. For example, you would list your most recent and highest qualification first:
- Masters of Business Administration (MBA), 2014
- XXXX Institute, XXX City, XXX Country
- Bachelors of Something Impressive (B…), 2010
- XXX Institute, XXX City, XXX Country
- A Bursary/Higher School Certificate / VCE / QCE
- XXX School, XXX City, XXX Country
Do not include the following details:
- Your primary school
- Your school grades (unless you are a lawyer in which case attach them in a separate document)
- A list of completed training courses unless they are specifically job-related
7. Work history
Now we get down to the meat and bones of your CV!
This is where you need to give an overview of where you have worked, what you did, what skills you obtained and what you have achieved. Keep it concise and bullet pointed; you do not need to list everything you have ever done, just the main relevant points.
List the date you began employment, including month and year, in bold.
You must include the month you began! Starting a role in January 2014 is very different from starting in November 2014. Also, abbreviate months so they can fit into the left column.
Example: Sep 2012 – Jan 2018
List the company name in capital letters so that it stands out clearly. List the city and country in lowercase letters and bold both
Example: FONTERRA, Auckland, New Zealand
Again, bold it. If you have had several different jobs at one company, or were promoted, list them with dates from the most recent. For example:
Give a two to four-line description of the company you worked for. Some companies will not be recognised overseas so it is also important to note the industry and size.
For example, Fonterra and Optus may be a big deal here but not widely recognised overseas, so you need to explain their size and importance.
Even if you have worked for a globally recognised company such as Coca-Cola or Deloitte, give a brief description of the company and their presence in your home country. If known, details such as the company’s turnover, number of staff or number of offices in your country are useful.
A good starting point is to check your job description or performance reviews. At a minimum we suggest five bullet points of key responsibilities. If you have several different areas in which you work, you can list these out separately. Again, keep these technical. Dealing with colleagues is not a responsibility, nor is answering the phone!
If you work in an area such as audit or sales, it is a good idea to list some of the main clients that you have worked with. Pick the main three to five and list them like this:
These should be achievements that have benefited the organization in some way as opposed to personal achievements:
- Reduced debt by 50%
- Introduced SAP
- Increased sales by 30%
This section is sometimes interchangeable with Key Clients or Achievements. It shows your ability to put into action the requirements of your job and detail the outcomes.
It is sometimes useful for this section to look at your most recent performance review and look at your Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s).
There are two types of referees, employment and personal. Both are important for related but different reasons. Please make sure your referees are aware they may be contacted!
We suggest two to three employment referees.
Very often we are asked if these must be written. The answer is no, they do not need to be. We understand that many companies as a policy will no longer provide written references. However, if you are going to the UK and can obtain written references from your employer, please do, as this can be very impressive.
Ideally you should use your direct manager as a reference, or whoever has the best idea of your working capabilities. Then if possible a partner or director, or else the next person in the line of command up. If you have no other options, choose a colleague who is more senior than you.
Your personal referee is someone who can vouch for your integrity, honesty and general good character They can’t be a family member or current work colleague, and should have known you for at least five years.
Personal referees are important in situations where you need to explain things such as gaps in employment. For example, if you took six months off to go travelling in South East Asia, your personal referee can vouch that you were in fact travelling and not actually in jail for possession of Class A drugs!