If you’ve ever applied for a job to an American or British company and been asked to send your CV you’ll know that the format is different. However, if you don’t have any experience (like me) and are thinking of submitting your CV or resume, this post is a must read.
I am delighted to welcome Matt Dancis as guest blogger on English with a Twist. He gives you clear guidelines on what you need to do prepare your CV or resume.
Businesses in every country have different customs, especially in how they manage their human resources. In the United States, job applicants usually submit résumés. In the United Kingdom, they are more likely to send a CV. Here’s everything you need to know about both.
The U.S. Résumé
A résumé is a very brief and direct summary of a person’s professional background within the field to which he or she is applying. The most important feature of a U.S. résumé is that it must not be more than one full page. As a result, Americans will usually change their résumés for each job that they apply for, by including only information that is relevant to that particular company.
What To Include In Your Résumé
Title: Write your name in the center in large letters. Below your name, write your address, phone number and email in smaller letters.
Background: You can begin with your educational or professional background. Both should have their own section. For education, list the institutions from which you have graduated and the credentials you earned. For your professional background, list only the jobs you’ve had that you think are relevant to the job you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for an accounting job, you should not include a past job cleaning dishes at a restaurant. This will only waste valuable space and it will not make you a more attractive candidate.
Skills Section: Mention any special computer or language skills you have, along with any extracurricular activity or community service you’ve worked in, followed by a very brief mention of your personal hobbies (World traveler, music enthusiast, etc.).
What To Leave Out Of Your Résumé
No Photos: In many countries, a photograph is at least encouraged, and frequently required. That’s not true in the United States or the United Kingdom. On the contrary, you are legally prohibited from including a photograph of yourself. The purpose is to discourage racial prejudice on the employer’s part.
Minimal Personal Info: Do not include your age, gender, nationality or marital status (whether you’re married or single). The only personal information you should ever include is a hobby or personal interest, such as travel or cooking, at the bottom of the page.
Update: A Reader from the US shared this:
“I might add that in the USA it is not mandatory your resume is one page long. It is preferred to be brief. If you are young, one page should be more than adequate. However, for a much older, more experienced applicant, no. One page is not expected. You do need to choose which jobs to highlight. However, you must account for all your time since beginning your working career after graduation or the gaps will bring up questions… like what are you hiding? This can easily be remedied by dividing your job listing to relevant or not relevant. In the not relevant section you can be brief and general (not list every exact job but rather types of jobs/activities).”
Thank you for sharing with us, Judy. This is most helpful.
The British CV
CV stands for curriculum vitae, which is Latin for course of life. The British CV is a more complete summary of your entire professional background. Unlike the American résumé, a British CV can be longer than one page and can include parts of your professional background that are not relevant to the job you are applying for.
What To Include In Your CV
Title: This is the same as on the résumé. Put your name across the top in the center, written in large letters and your contact information below it in smaller letters.
Personal Statement: Write a full paragraph describing yourself. Say what you have achieved in the past as a student, intern or employee, and what you can provide in the future if the company hires you. Write this below your name and contact information at the top.
Skills Section: In this section, list in bullet points any notable skills you have, such as fast typing, experience using HTML, languages, etc.
Background: The biggest difference between the CV and the résumé is that you are not as limited in space. You can include more information on your educational and professional background, but try to not to fill more than three to four pages. If you notice your CV getting too long, you should remove some of the less important points.
Hobbies: In the hobbies section of your CV, you must write a full 50 to 70-word paragraph describing any extracurricular activity you’ve done, any travels or cultural experiences you’ve had, and/or any other distinguishing features that you think make you look special as a candidate.
References: Finally, you must provide a list of past employers and personal friends. Include their names, phone numbers, email addresses, and how you know them (friend, employer, mother, etc.).
What To Leave Out Of Your CV
No Photos: In 2016, photographs in the UK are not a custom and you should not include one in your CV.
The 3 Main Differences Between The American Résumé And The British CV
Length: A résumé must be one page. A CV can be up to three or four, although nowadays the shorter the CV the better.
Personal Information: In a résumé, you must focus much more on your value as an employee. You should only mention a personal hobby at the bottom. When making a CV, you must write a 50-word personal statement at the top, along with a second paragraph describing your hobbies near the end.
References: You do not have enough space for references in a résumé. In the U.S., you would only provide this information if an employer asks you for it, in which case you should provide it separately. In the UK, your professional and personal contacts should be the last section that you include in your CV.
Did you find this information helpful? Does your country have different customs than the ones in the United States and United Kingdom?
Download these resources
Matt has also provided two templates that you could use as a guide when preparing either your American resume or your British CV
Thanks so much for this extremely useful post, Matt. I am sure my readers found it very helpful. If you know of friends and colleagues who would find this post useful, please share it with them.
About Matt Dancis
Matt Dancis writes for Language Trainers, a language tutoring company that specializes in business language. Language Trainers teaches any language, anytime, anywhere. It has native speaking instructors throughout the world who give customizable private and small group classes both in person and on Skype. Take one of their free English level tests. Matt is from Philadelphia and has spent the past several years living in Argentina and Colombia, splitting his time between writing and teaching English. To contact Matt with any questions, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ciao for now, folks.