So, you've decided to complete a work placement as part of your Year Abroad. Unfortunately, before you can start getting some euros in the bank- comes the long, tedious process of applications 🙁 Writing a CV in English is hard enough as it is, let alone one in a second or third language! BUT HAVE NO FEAR- I've been there, done that, and can honestly say it's not as bad as it seems.
Below are points I want to highlight about writing a CV in a foreign language (for a European placement), as the format and content differ slightly from a UK one. By following these tips, you should find it easier to get the ball rolling, and start securing those offers in no time!
Just a note- The advice I give is based mainly around my experience from writing CVs for Spain and Italy. Each country has its own general set of requirements, so make sure to do some independent research, and ask your placement adviser for help.
LENGTH: SHORT AND SWEET
The general rule seems like the shorter, the better. I was surprised when I was told my Spanish CV should ideally be just 1 page in length, and so I did the same for my Italian one too. Definitely don't go over two pages, and RESIST THE RAMBLING!
INCLUDE PERSONAL INFORMATION
Because of Equal Opportunities Policy in the UK, giving certain personal details on your CV isn't required- but in other European countries it seems a bit more commonplace. The most important things to include are:
- A photo of yourself: Obviously a professional, passport-style, not one taken after a messy night in Bridge.
- Contact info: Email and phone number- remember to add the dial code at the start (+44 for UK)
- Date of birth/ nationality
- Potentially: Work permit/ LinkedIn account handle
CONTENT AND FORMAT: PLAIN, PRECISE AND PROFESSIONAL
Given that, based on my experience, CVs for other European countries are shorter- get down to the nitty gritty from the start. Try not to boast with loads of fancy adjectives, and don't spend much effort on writing about interests/hobbies as you would with a UK CV- prioritise professional and academic history.
- Work experience: write the skills required in each role as short, concise bullet points, not paragraphs.
- Education: university and secondary
- Competencies: especially important here is to highlight your language (CEFR level) and computing skills.
If you are struggling on the format, use Europass to help you. It is a template aimed at standardising job applications across the EU, so it's likely that potential employers will already be familiar with it!
GETTING LOST IN TRANSLATION
When writing my CVs, I found there were elements that were hard to translate, or even required extra research. Here are some things to watch out for:
- Minor details like acronyms: Make sure to find the correct equivalents in your chosen language, for example 'DOB' (date of birth) translates to 'DDN' (data di nascita) in Italian.
- Job titles: Some positions, like the one I have now, 'blogger', can't be translated, or there might be a better way of phrasing a job title that your teachers have the answer to. Also, don't forget to change the gender of the job title where necessary.
- Educational qualifications: A-levels are a UK qualification only, so I'd recommend finding the appropriate equivalent for your chosen country, as well as converting your grades accordingly (so that employers can get a clearer picture). Teachers will be able to help with this, and here is a huge UCAS guide with relevant info as well.
FINALLY: PROOFREAD, THEN PROOFREAD...THEN PROOFREAD IT AGAIN
When you're happy with your first draft, make sure it all sounds and looks cohesive- and watch out for any grammar mistakes! Gender, tenses, object pronouns...double check it all. Let teachers and friends also have skim through, a little bit of constructive criticism goes a long way!
And there you have it, a fab foreign language CV! Phew, what a relief, now you can get your name out there and take on the working world!