Creating a CV is a long process, but the end result can secure you that dream internship or job; this article covers the CV tips and tricks to convert your U.S. resume into a U.K.-friendly CV.
The trick is to be honest with yourself about your strengths and how to highlight them. Building a CV is both about landing a job and about learning about yourself. Take your time throughout the process to really grow and your personality will automatically show through in your CV. Recruiters love that. So let’s begin.
This post helps you build a CV from a blank page. More information on CVs can also be found in my article CV vs. Resume: What’s the Difference and How to Build One.
You will need to include…
- The Basics: Your name, address, phone number, and email address
- Personal Statement
- Education Background
- Employment History
- Other Activities/Involvement
- Technology Knowledge
- “Referees available upon request”
1. The Basics
The simplest piece of a CV is your main heading including your name and contact information. Though basic, it can also make or break how appealing your CV looks. Use the same font for your name as you’ll use for your headings. Change the color of it to stand out if you’d like, but don’t go crazy.
- Make your name large (like 36-48 font size) and your contact info small (the same size as the regular text on the page).
- Add your name by using a separate text box. This way, you can move it around and hug it close to other words to avoid messy spacing problems.
- Save space by putting all contact info on one line with separations.
- 123 Alphabet Lane | Phone: (555) 555-5555 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Personal Statement
The personal statement is your chance to give a recruiter all of your best qualities. The trick is to fit them into 3 to 4 very concise sentences. Build a list of seven of your strengths and find a creative way to work them into a paragraph. Make sure to also include a goal-oriented statement about the position you are hoping to secure or the industry in which you are hoping to work.
- Increase the font size by one or two sizes to draw attention to this section if you have the space. So if your normal font is 11 pt make it 12pt or 14pt font.
- Read the job description. Change your strengths to fit its keywords.
- Job description says: Must be detail-oriented and dependable.
- Your statement says: Very organised and trustworthy. Simply substitute detail-oriented for organised and dependable for trustworthy. Only do this if you actually are those things. If not, pick a different strength to highlight.
- Don’t worry about formal sentences. Use your limited space to make an impact.
- Bad: I am a very organised, creative, and professional person with years of experience in accounting.
- Good: An organised and creative individual with four years professional accounting experience.
Here’s an example of mine:
A creative yet detail-oriented individual with proven leadership and customer service skills, looking to secure a position in the hospitality and tourism industry whilst expanding my overseas experience. Capable of collaborating on, or leading, projects as a team member or individual to achieve results. Highly self-motivated, outgoing, and bright, with a strong commitment to continual personal and professional development.
3. Education Background
If a recent graduate, this information should be directly after your personal statement. If its been awhile since you finished your degree (or you don’t have a degree) swap this and your employment history.
- Translate your education information into U.K. terms. GPA means almost nothing to a U.K. recruiter. Instead, write:
- Grade Point Average = 4.0 (highest cumulative mark possible)
- U.K. equivalent = First Class Honours
- If you have any strange education information (like switching schools or studying abroad) use a bullet point to explain why you chose the new school or that study abroad program.
- As a result of attaining high marks in University, I was able to pursue a valuable opportunity to study overseas and elected to go to Leeds University due to its high academic standards and reputation.
- “College” in the U.K. basically means the last two years of high school. So, anytime you refer to college as we know it, say “university.”
- Some U.S. career counselors suggest listing your scholarships, but again, unless it is recognized in the U.K. (i.e. a Rhodes Scholar or a Fullbright Scholarship recipient), skip it.
4. Employment History
The employment section of a CV follows very similar lines to the U.S. version. Start with your most recent employment and work backwards.
Unlike a resume where you have half a page to list jobs that directly relate to the position for which you are applying, you can include most of your employment history in a CV–without being ridiculous. Avoid listing your high school jobs if you can, unless you held them for four or more years (or are only a freshman in college) and the experience is relevant to the job you want.
- While some CVs use full sentences to describe past jobs, the S.T.A.R. format taught in the U.S. is my preferred method because it keeps it concise and easy-to-read. Read more about S.T.A.R. here.
- This is another great place to use keywords from the job description.
- Critically assessed and creatively solved guest complaints and problems to leave them 100% satisfied
- Professionally communicated with customers while managing multiple projects at one time
- Keep formatting for each job consistent. If you have been writing your position before the company name, do not switch halfway through.
5. Other Activities/Involvement
This section is my favorite. I prefer to combine it with the next section, “Skills” to make it fun and unique.
If you have been very involved outside of school and work, you can go through and list your extracurricular involvement the same way you listed your employment history. If, like me, you were mildly involved and have other skills not related directly to organizations to highlight, follow the information in the next section.
- Highlight these in order of importance, instead of chronological.
- If you were the leader of an organization or held a large role, make those responsibilities front-and-center.
- Limit bullet points for each to 2 or 3, and continue to use the S.T.A.R. method if possible.
If you are like me and have strengths not used strictly in organizations, format your CV with your skill as the header and relevant information detailed in bullet points.
- Before you start writing, make a list of what you’ve done and what main strengths apply to your experiences. Then you can group those experiences based on the similar skill involved.
- Keep formatting as consistent as possible with your employment history.
An example from my CV:
Initiative and Innovation
Innovation Challenge, Service Track (2nd place out of 10 teams) | October 2015 – March 2016
- Worked independently to develop an idea for the Innovation Challenge for a travel company, Gone Rogue Travel Co., that creates custom itineraries based on travelers’ unique bucket lists
- Designed and built a Wix website in support of the idea, which was assessed by judges
Leadership and Involvement
Hospitality Student Association – President | August 2015 – May 2016
- Planned and led meetings to discuss upcoming events and topics within the hospitality industry
- Collaborated with a team of officers to set and achieve goals for the organisation
7. Tech Knowledge
Have you ever built a website? Are you an absolute whiz with Excel? Anything you feel you are great at should go here. Brownie points if it relates directly to the job (i.e. you are great at Photoshop and you will be doing some photo editing for the company’s website).
If you have any website building experience at all, make sure to list it, even if it is simply customizing your WordPress blog.
- Make it short and a bulleted list, with the technology first and then any reasoning broken up by a colon.
- Wix Website Design: Built an entire interactive website from a template.
- Microsoft Office: Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Word, and Publisher.
This section allows the recruiter to get to know you a bit more personally.
Why is it important? An employer wants to know if they will actually enjoy working with you. In the U.S., it is taboo to discuss your personal life, but it just makes good sense for a recruiter to know if you’ll mesh with others who work at the company. People’s hobbies are just as telling (if not more telling) than their employment history.
- Keep it short and concise.Choose your top 3-4 hobbies.
- Keep it professional. Just because you get to list your interests doesn’t mean you have free reign to write: “Getting hammered every Friday at the local pub.”
- Use the same format as your tech knowledge, or something similar.
- Exercising: running, cycling, and yoga
- Art: painting and sketching
- Music: I have played piano since the age of 3 and also love any percussion instrument.
Before you send in your CV, read through my article CV Extras: Spelling, Formatting + More to make sure you’ve fully Britified your CV.
Cheers and good luck, job hunters!
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