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A blog with tips and insights into the practice of law

Your CV is a cultural artifact.

Online there’s a plethora of information about how to write or finesse a CV. And luckily, much of what’s listed as ‘best practice’ is in fact consistent regardless of which country you’re applying to. Amongst these you’ll find:

  • Brevity – Keep the document as short as possible. Use bullet points and aim for 2/3 pages.
  • Versatility – Tailor your CV for the specific opportunity that you’re applying for.
  • Transparency – don’t leave unexplained gaps in time within your CV. Explain any absences.
  • Fluency – Start on the right foot by ensuring you have no spelling or grammatical errors.

These points should be obvious to the discerning, but what may be a little less obvious are the cultural mores that should be considered when applying for a role overseas.

A French colleague of mine told me that one would never apply for a job in France without a photo pinned to their CV. And allegedly, this practice isn’t restricted to the wildly attractive – everyone is expected to show their face before they show their face. Additionally, in France one doesn’t detail their professional responsibilities in past jobs. You would simply list your place of work and your title. This is because, rightly or wrongly, the emphasis is on education – what kind of degree you completed and the esteem (or otherwise) of your university.

In the US, one should set aside any concerns of modesty and flag their achievements systematically. If you’ve won an award or gained professional recognition, you should state this loud and proud.

So if you’re tailoring your CV for an offshore opportunity, research the culture and their understanding of the application process before submitting your Australian-centric document. And as for the overseas interview process, I’ll discuss that in my next post.