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A Very British CV

It’s important when transferring to a new job to ensure that your CV stands out from the crowd. A CV is often the first thing a prospective employer will examine when deciding whether the cover letter is worth a read. I’ll be giving you a few tips in avoiding the biggest missteps when crafting the perfect British CV.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Drop the photo on your British CV!

One of the first things I noticed when I relocated to Germany was the prevalence of the personal photo shoot on the CV. This is something that’s generally better avoided when sending your resume to a prospective British employer. Its attachment causes significantly more questions than its absence. More often than not, it can be seen as a bit of a waste of space e.g. “Yes, that’s a lovely suit and tie combination but you’ve neglected to tell me anything else of import”.

Have a clean and concise layout.

When writing your CV, be sure to include your personal address in the top right corner, just as though you were writing a letter. This small piece of information can be invaluable for prospective hiring managers when arranging the logistics of interviews. Next, be sure to move chronologically through your employment history with most recent towards the top. It is best to avoid mixing together work and educational experience, keeping them in 2 distinct areas.

Don’t overdo it.

Let’s bear in mind the reason for which we’re putting this document out: it absolutely has to be succinct, you’ll have time to show them your writing skills later, now is not the time for a Tolkienesque epic. For that reason it’s often best to stick to two sides of A4 when listing your achievements. This should leave ample space for you to show your varied academic and work-based skills and, if it isn’t, it may be time for some editing. Try to keep sections where you discuss relevant work experience in pride of place. Other, perhaps less specific, elements can be omitted or shortened.

A British CV is not one size fits all.

When putting yourself forward as a candidate for a new position, it’s important to remember that your resumé can, consciously or not, be geared towards a certain industry. If applying for a broad range of opportunities, it’s important to attach significance to the relevant skills. For example, if you’re skilled in logistics and client services, and are looking into diverse career progression, with one application going to an air cargo company and another to a client facing business, it’s important to emphasise your skills on your CV for each of these areas. For the logistics company, you should emphasise previous work and academic experience in the area, whilst for the client service role, emphasise previous experience that demonstrates your ability to deliver an excellent customer experience.

Nobody really needs to know how well you ride a horse.

One statement I have very seldom heard from a hiring manager is:; “Oh, I wish I knew more about their hobbies”. Unless it is of direct consequence to your career aspiration, it is best to avoid the whole hobbies section all together. Unless you’re applying for an executive role in equestrian equipment sales, I’d struggle to think of a reason why your horse-riding ability should take pride of place on your CV. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. When applying for jobs in translation management, a keen interest in languages would of course be advantageous. The same could be said for literature if applying to work in the publishing sector. It’s best just to be mindful of your audience and endeavour not to waste any of those precious two sheets of paper.

Saving the last little bit of space.

Many people choose to pop their references at the bottom of their CV, taking up valuable space at the bottom of their list of achievements. I find it’s often best simply to attach the short phrase “References available on request” as the hiring manager is unlikely to contact your references prior to their first point of contact with you.

That’s all from me, my top tips for the finest of British resumés. I wish you all the best in finding the next step in your career!

Looking for a job elsewhere? Check our tips for a French, Chinese or US CV!

About the author

I am a Junior Content Manager for JobLeads, principally working on Russia and Poland. Outside of my role here I'm a huge fan of theatre, travel, and languages.