A killer CV starts with a clear goal

Preparing your CV for a job hunt abroad requires more than copy-and-pasting your information into a culturally suitable template, according to career coach Jane Stephenson. “You need to know what you want.”

Local norms

Stephenson regularly helps expat partners craft their CV, cover letter and LinkedIn profile according to local norms. “In Northern European countries, you are supposed to keep your CV concise, for example, whereas Southeast Asian employers expect pages and pages listing everything you’ve done,” she says. “And while American CVs are all about showing off concrete achievements, recruiters elsewhere may be more interested in the value you bring to a company. For example: Are you a good team builder or team player?”

Define job goal

However, while it’s important to know what local employers expect, it’s even more important to define what you are looking for yourself, says the Dutch based coach. “Many expat partners have left a good job of their own to enable their spouse to have a great work opportunity. As a career coach, I talk to these expat partners about what they want out of the trip, what they want to achieve. I tell them that you don’t have to make your career smaller just because you’ve moved. If you were good at something in another country, there is no reason why you can’t be good at it over here.”

Identify strengths

Once expat partners have established their goal, the next step is to identify their strengths: “People often struggle with this, because the things they are good at come naturally to them. So I have different exercises that pull out this information,” explains Stephenson. “How did you enjoy your previous roles? What did you really like about it? – Those are the kind of homework questions that I give. Their answers are the starting point for further discussions to identify strengths. It’s often quite an illuminating experience for expat partners.”

Successful CV

Only when expat partners have a clear idea of their goals and qualities, will they be ready to write a successful CV for their job hunt abroad, according to Stephenson. Does she do any of the writing for them? “No, I’m not a CV rewriter, and besides, your CV has to sound authentic,” she says firmly. “But I will give plenty of feedback to help expat partners get it right.”

Stay up to date

Sign up for our newsletter and always stay up-to-date on the latest articles.

Sign up for the newsletter