So much for globalisation. It turns out some things aren’t as internationally standardised as we’d like to think – like writing a CV, for example.

Each country or region has their own take on this most important of application materials, right down to what they call the document itself. Before submitting your CV (or resume), it’s important you take note of which school of thought your prospective employer subscribes to if you want to maximise your chances.

Here are some of the key things to watch out for:

CV or resume?
This is one thing you don’t want to get wrong. In Europe (including the UK) and Latin America it’s strictly “CV”, whereas most Americans use the term “resume” (“CV being reserved solely for medial and academic professions). The latter ruling also applies in Canada and Australia.

Across Asia and the Middle East it’s more blurry – if you’re an expat applying to a multinational organisation you may well find that an American culture pervades; it’s worth checking the wording and spelling of the company website for clues.

Different countries have vastly different opinions when it comes to putting a picture on your resume – ignore these at your peril.

In the UK you would never normally attach a photo, whereas in most of continental Europe you would. Many Asian countries also include pictures with their applications. In the US and Australia it’s not recommended nor encouraged.

Personal information
Many countries disagree on the kind of information you should supply to prospective employers.

In Mainland Europe and Asia it is typical to see the candidate’s nationality, date of birth, gender and marital status shared with the employer. Recruiters in France and China, for example, want all of the above plus the ages of your children. Spain requests your marital status and age, passport number and driving licence details.

In South Africa, additional personal information such as ID number and ethnicity (the latter to clarify one’s BEE or affirmative action status) is required on top of the above.

In Australia, the UK and the US stricter privacy laws render most of this personal information unnecessary. In the US, an employer has no legal right to know your age (unless local, state, or federal law requires that employees be over a certain age).

The staples
Fortunately, there are some things that all countries can agree on. Generally, your CV or resume should include your name, address, phone number, email address, professional experience, education and interests, with the sections in reverse chronological order. And unless you’re going for a wacky infographic CV keep it to no more than two pages in length and use black ink on white paper.

While the many of the differences above may appear subtle, don’t ignore them. As tends to be the case with job applications in general, avoid anything that makes you appear out of step with the culture of the organisation you’re applying to. Play it safe, do your homework and give yourself the best possible chance of being hired.

Reference: BBC; Expat Arrivals; Abintegro
11 Jan 2017