Before you apply for jobs in the UK make sure your CV is UK-friendly. I’m quickly discovering (through research at the moment) that our Australian CVs that take the gun-shot approach are not going to cut it in the UK.
You need to have a very specific CV format and content specifically targeted for the job you are applying for. This is partly cultural and partly because many recruiters use an automated sifting process that uses a computer program to identify what your CV says about you.
We uploaded our CV to a recruitment agency when we first started preparing our CV for the UK and we were unpleasantly surprised to discover that a computer program would tell a human being that my husband had only 5 years work experience and that he was ideally suited to a job in IT. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you prepare a UK-friendly CV…
Before you create a CV – identify what jobs you are going to target
It is really important in the UK to laser-focus your CV otherwise it may not even get to a human to consider. I suggest you have a short list of what you are going to apply for BEFORE you draft your CV.
Be prepared to create multiple versions of your CV. You will need different versions for different purposes: for applying for a UK Ancestry Visa, applying to recruitment agencies with a particular specialty, as well as applying for specific jobs.
Identify your job interests
- Based on your skills, experience and interests – create a short list of job roles that you would like to apply for.
- Now create a list of jobs that you want to avoid or at least aspects of jobs you want to avoid. For example, would you like a job that involves cold-call selling? Do you want to do shift work?
Skills, experience and abilities
- What are the employer’s expectations? What are they asking for and what is common sense?
- If you know that you don’t have what a particular job requires – either get it or stop wasting your time including these job types in your search; or at least skip over them when reading search results.
- If a particular job type needs a certificate for doing something – research how much it will cost and how easy it will be to obtain. Then get it!
- Understand what your existing qualifications are equivalent to in the UK. You might want to consider getting your existing qualifications assessed for equivalency. You will then have a piece of paper (or electronic document) that explains to UK locals what you have.
- Learn about the UK (English or Scottish) qualifications framework and the different terminology. It’s recently changed in Scotland and some recruiters (and education providers) use the old and/or new terms.
- Beware that job titles may not be the same as what we expect in our home country. You may also find you need to research what a job title is. New jobs are being invented all the time.
- Visit recruitment sites and identify key skills and keywords in the job ad for each particular role. Make sure you have the requisite skills, experience or abilities they want before applying.
Location & commuting
- How far are you willing to travel to get to work? If you are going to train, bus, bike or walk – or a mixture of these – choose jobs that are located within a reasonable commuting time and distance from your home. I don’t want to commute for more than 1 hour to work – including walking to the train station or bus stop on the way to work.
- Do you need your own car? If you’ve just moved to the UK, you may not have a car or any intention of having a car; instead, you intend to rely on public transport.
- You might like to calculate how much it will cost you to travel to your prospective workplace and identify your limits. For example, if we live in Glasgow I’ve worked out that we cannot afford, and do not want to, work in Edinburgh. Some people do it but it’s not our desire.
- If you’ve never commuted before, or at least not commuted in the UK before, learn about the pros and cons of commuting by train and bus.
- If you are going to get a car in the UK – understand what’s involved with car ownership in the UK. Is it worth it?