The UK offers opportunities in many different fields and sectors. The service sector is the main force of the British economy, and there are many fields which are hungry for international talent such as insurance, finance, engineering, and ICT. London is becoming increasingly popular with foreign graduates (though the "Brexit"-decision has added an extra level of insecurity). It is a particularly tough job seeking environment because the competition for positions is so fierce. If you’re considering applying for work in the UK it’s important that your CV shows that you understand the business environment and what’s expected of you.
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Here’s how to get your CV noticed by UK employers:
1. Keep it short and simple
The trend in the UK is for short and succinct CVs and cover letters. You should aim to make your CV no longer than two pages, but many employers will be impressed if you can fit it on one page. Employers normally receive huge numbers of applications and this means that time is of the essence when they review CVs and cover letters. They are likely to be most attracted to those that get the point across quickly and concisely.
2. Only include relevant information
Unlike other European countries such as Germany and Belgium, it’s not usual to include information about all your previous work and education history. Job applications in the UK tend to be focused on the job itself and this means your CV and cover letter should be focused on explaining how your experience meets the requirements for that particular job.
Graduates in the UK don’t normally include any school grades below university level, unless they have a particular relevance to the position. If you haven’t done brilliantly at university – don’t worry it’s fine to leave out your university grades or point average. Employers tend to focus on work experience more than education and demonstrating your skills and abilities is always more impressive than letting employers know what you studied.
Of course, if you have an impressively high score it won’t hurt to include them, but the UK hiring process is generally more focused on work experience. If you do include your education make sure to include the university, subject, and enrolment dates.
If you find formatting your CV troublesome, go ahead and use the Graduateland CV Builder to create your British CV.
3. Don’t include a picture on your CV
CVs in the UK don’t normally include pictures, your marital status, date of birth or nationality. This is because there are strict rules on equality and diversity in the hiring process and including this information can be seen as attempting to bias the interview process.
4. Don’t attach extra documents
Managers in the UK don’t tend to write references when a candidate leaves a job and this means that employees in the UK don’t have a file with references from all their previous employers. Job applications tend to be composed of only the CV and cover letter.
It’s usual to write “references on request” on your CV and this indicates that you have previous employers or managers who will act as your referees. Employers normally ask for these after you have passed the first interview round and will expect you to provide a work phone number or e-mail address.
If you have previously worked in the UK it’s common practice to ask your former manager before you pass on their contact details. This gives them a chance to prepare what they will say if contacted as part of the hiring process.
5. Proofread, proofread and proofread again!
Although your English might not need to be perfect to work in the UK, spelling or grammar mistakes on a CV or cover letter are unforgivable. They are often enough for an employer to throw out your application immediately as they are seen to demonstrate that you don’t take care with your communication. Make sure you take extra care when looking for mistakes.
6. Customise your CV format
Many different styles of CV are acceptable in the UK. The most standard is a reverse chronological CV where you include your most recent experience first, but if another format is more effective at presenting your suitability then go for it! Other examples of styles include a “skills-based CV” where the content is grouped under various different skills for example “teamwork”, “leadership” or “problem-solving”.
If you are applying for a very technical job you may want to focus on your technical skills and organise your CV according to these, or if you are looking for a more creative role you could consider thinking about the design of your CV and how to make it stand out. As long as your CV is clear and easy to understand it’s ok to present the information in an unusual way.