UK CVs for International Students

You may be thinking of doing a part-time job whilst you study or a full time job in your vacation period.  Or you could be interested in doing an internship over the summer or planning to apply for graduate employment.  If so then it is likely that you will need a Curriculum Vitae.  A Curriculum Vitae or CV can be seen as a tool that you use to market yourself to providers of opportunities you may be interested in.  You may be more familiar with the term résumé and it is likely a commonly used method of application in your home country.  CVs and résumés across the world share many similarities and hopefully by the end of this article you will be clearer on some of the features of a UK CV and where to look for further resources and support.

Tailoring your UK CV:  An important first step for an effective CV is to identify exactly what are the employer requirements (or opportunity provider); the skills, experience, qualifications and personal attributes that you will need.  The potential of your CV to help you to progress to the next round of recruitment, usually an interview, will depend very much on how well you demonstrate that you meet these requirements.  Adapting your CV to make sure that it markets you as an individual who meets these requirements is commonly called “tailoring” a CV in the UK.

Spelling and grammar:  you should aim for 100% accuracy in your CV.  An employer will judge your written communication ability when reading your CV.  An employer may make conclusions on your attention to detail and also your motivation for the role by the amount of mistakes they note.

Contact details:  an employer will need to be able to contact you, usually via email.  But they also may want a telephone contact number.  If you expect to be contacted whilst you are still in the UK you do not usually need to add an international dialling codeEmployers can use your address to judge how easy it will be for you to get to work (your mobility), if you include an address that is outside of the UK then it would be a good idea to indicate in your covering letter your willingness to re-locate or that in term time you are based in the UK.  

Creative CVs: Unless you are applying for a role within the creative industries or one where your creative ability is important you should normally avoid using graphs, colours and pictures etc.

CV templates: Templates can restrict your ability to tailor a CV and common ones found online can be poor.  If you would like to view example graduate level CVs then in the first instance consider contacting your University Careers service.

Do not include:

A photo: it is common in some countries to include a photo on a résumé (CV) however this is not usually the case for a UK CV.  Be judged on your ability not what you look like.

Date of birth/age, gender (male/female), marital status or nationality: the UK’s Equality Act 2010 law means that usually a UK based employer cannot discriminate against you based upon these protected characteristics.  If you require a VISA to work then you could disclose this in your covering letter.

Sources of further information and support:

Prospects and Target Jobs are websites specifically for undergraduates and graduates and include information on CVs, including examples. You can access prospects.ac.uk here and targetjobs.co.uk here.

Academic CVs (that you would use to apply for a role at a university) have a different format and content then the usual CV.  You can find out more about these differences, including examples by visiting jobs.ac.uk here.

Your university careers service website will have lots of useful resources including example CVs. A great way of improving your CV and answers to any specific questions you have is to get some one-to-one advice from an expert.  The best place to start is with your university careers service.  They can also provide you with advice on UK CVs not covered in this article, for example how to produce a UK CV that is tailored for a specific industry or job sector.

By Ben Simkins, Careers Consultant, Keele University