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Writing a CV in English as a Second Language

10 Feb

It is our job to give our candidates the chance to put their best foot forward to our clients. The first, and most crucial step in this process, starts with a great CV. We know that updating your resume can be stressful, but what if it has to be written in another language and you are struggling with translations? Check out our handy hints and tips below to help you get that #PerfectFit CV!

Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation

These can be tricky for anyone, but particularly difficult if you are translating to another language. Especially if that language is English! 
Using online translation tools can be a great help if you’re stuck on a word or two, but using Google Translate to write your entire CV is a sure-fire way to make certain it will not make any sense. If you can, get a friend or an associate who is fluent to help you with the translation. 

If you don’t know anyone personally who can help with this task, try using the skills you already have to write it as best you can. It might also be worth looking into an online proofreading service such as oxbridgeproofreading.co.uk. Of course this service is not free, but it could be worth spending a little money if it gets you your dream job!

When applying to a large number of international roles, it can be a good idea to have a couple of different language versions of your CV that you always keep up to date - one in your native language and one in English for example. That way you will become more used to translating. 

Writing the Way You Speak

A common mistake many people make when writing their CV is to write the way that they speak. Remember that most of the time when you are speaking, it is in an informal setting, and using proper grammar isn’t as important. 

For example, your spoken English may be perfect when you are socialising, but if you write a document in the same way it could land you in trouble. A CV is a formal document, and so being careful with the way you write could give you an edge when it comes to applying for jobs.  

Using/Overusing the Language

Resist the temptation to show off your foreign language skills by using over complicated sentences and vocabulary. While a clear demonstration of your language competence will only enhance your CV, overdoing it could have the opposite effect. It’s a CV, not a creative writing exercise.

Formatting 

This is number one on the bug-bear list of recruiters and clients alike! A format that is over-complicated, with lots of different colours and tables will only make the reader confused. 

Remember that recruiters/employers look through hundreds of CVs a day, so sticking to a clear, simple format is key. If you struggle with this, pretend you are making a document for someone who has never viewed a CV before, you want it to be as easy as possible for them to get the information they need in the shortest amount of time. 

Try to find out what the standard CV format is for your industry in the country you are applying to. For example, in the UK, a typical CV would be 12 point Times New Roman font and no longer than two pages in length. However, every industry has its own standards and more senior roles have different requirements. Finding out what the criteria are in advance will go a long way in helping you to get the job!

Keeping it Relevant

Tailoring your CV to the specific role you are applying for is always a good idea. For example, if you are applying for a role as Consultant Radiologist, the client will not need to know that you worked in the local café during your gap year. 

In some cases, a client will request that a detailed CV be submitted to them. Your recruiter will be able to advise you best on how this should be laid out, but it is good to remember that the information you provide should be as clear and concise as possible. A 20 page document with appendices and footnotes might be impressive, but could also be seen as a trying too hard. 
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