CVs - The International Dimension

By Graeme Jordan (CV Writer / Interview Coach / professional Marketer)

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The most important thing I have come to understand from my consultancy experience and from writing CVs for people all over the world is that the needs of employers are broadly similar. They want to select somebody in whom they are confident and they believe can add value to their business; helping them to meet their objectives. The specific objectives and ways in which the ideal candidate adds value vary wildly, but the prevailing issues stay the same. These objectives also vary between companies and between industries as well.

collared shirt and tie

Culture is undoubtedly an important factor, as it will affect how business is done in each region or country. The extent to which this affects your approach to CV writing however is very small. In an increasingly globalised business environment, culture is often separate from the key principles of a business. Equally, a company might be headquartered in a different county and as such, its organisational culture will be driven from there, rendering ‘local’ advice less relevant.

An example of a well-known difference is that the USA and Canada generally expect a 1 page ‘resume’ in most industries. I have written a few of these ‘summary CVs’, and kept them to a succinct single page. Equally I have written successful 2 page versions if a candidate was senior enough and if the content was sufficiently compelling. This idea is not particularly new, and some high profile opinion agrees with me.


Observations from my international experience

I met two great recruitment companies (as well as a variety of employers) in Lithuania in 2013 ( and Almost all of the people I spoke with confirmed my view that there is a gap between what recruiters really want and what people are advised to put on their CV, ‘resume’ or cover letter (sometimes called a ‘motivation letter’ there). I can only infer that this gap exists either because advice is not taken or the advice is wrong. Personally, I find that more often than not, it is wrong. It’s wrong because it is subjective, and subjectivity exists everywhere.


What to do …

What you need to do then, when writing a CV or similar, is find out what that particular employer is looking for and then present evidence that you meet their criteria better than any other candidate. It is this fundamental of CV writing and interviewing that doesn’t change amongst any business in the world.


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