Prepared to take your career international? Make these CV changes.
If you're willing to relocate internationally for a job, how should you include that in your CV? Well, there are several ways that you can state on your CV that you're willing to work anywhere in the world, but some methods allow you to be more concise, and therefore more professional.
You might like to phrase it as 'will relocate globally', 'willing to relocate worldwide' or 'open to relocation on a global level', for example.
Where do I write that I'm willing to relocate on my CV?
In this sample CV, the relevant line about relocation is underlined in blue and is included as part of the personal statement. You can view the full CV for this mid-level professional here.
The best place to mention relocation on your CV is your personal statement, which sits just underneath your name and contact details. Your CV personal statement should discuss who you are, what you can bring to the role and your career goals. Add the details about being willing to relocate globally to the final part of your statement.
For example, if you're looking for a software engineer role, you might write, 'Currently pursuing a software engineer role and am open to relocating globally'.
Have a goal and a plan for your relocation
Food for thought: Perhaps spend some time thinking about where you really want to work on a geographical level. If you have your heart set on a certain country, perhaps look for jobs in that region, rather than hoping a new employer will send you there on a whim.
Alternatively, if you want the opportunity to work across the world, look at companies who have offices internationally. If you find a job you like, tailor your CV to that opportunity so you convince employers you're the talent they need. You can then bring up the fact that you are open to working anywhere in the world in your cover letter or interview, as opposed to your CV that includes your current location.
Understand the CV conventions for different countries
CV conventions change from country to country. Some details you may never have thought to include could be requirements somewhere else, and what you may think is standard could suddenly be a deal-breaker once you cross a border. Therefore, if you want to relocate globally, you must adapt your CV to meet the expectations of your target country. That starts with understanding how CV rules differ from one country to the next.
1. What do I call it?
The UK and most European countries refer to this job-application document as a 'CV', which is an abbreviation for the Latin term 'curriculum vitae', meaning 'course of (one's) life'. In contrast, you'll typically find companies asking for a 'resume' in the U.S, Australia, Germany and Asian countries, including China, Singapore and Japan.
In the U.S, you may see the term 'CV' attached to an academic CV (also known as an academic resume), which is used in the worlds of science and academia. Academic CVs are typically much longer documents that offer a deep dive into a candidate's education, work experience, appointments and publications. They should not be confused with the British and European CV.
2. Page length
Length conventions tend not to vary by country – most CVs around the world are typically kept at one or two pages. This generally breaks down to one page for entry-level positions and two pages for most professionals; a three-page CV format is uncommon and reserved for senior executives with extensive experience. The only exceptions are if you work in academia or a scientific field where you would use the aforementioned academic CV format, or if you are applying for a position within the U.S. federal government, which has specific requirements that often require more than three pages.
One minor thing to note, however, is that while page length conventions are not different, the page size is. In the U.S. and Canada, letter size is used, whereas the UK and most other countries use A4 paper.
3. Personal information
In the UK, U.S. and Australia, the personal information you include will generally be limited to your town and postal code (or city and state), phone number, email and the link to your LinkedIn profile. Employers see the incorporation of more specific details as a potential opportunity for HR managers to discriminate ‒ whether implicitly or explicitly ‒ between certain candidates.
But for EU countries, including personal details is often expected. These may include your age, nationality, birth date, maiden name and often marital status.
4. CV photo
You'll generally find that including a photo on your CV is discouraged in the UK, Africa, Israel, India, Australia, Canada, Mexico and the U.S. Like some personal information, headshots can be seen as an opportunity for HR managers to discriminate between candidates. Actors and entertainers in these countries may include a separate photo with their CVs in these countries, but doing so outside of these professions is discouraged.
However, there are some countries where including a photograph on your CV is expected. These areas include:
EU member countries
Latin America (except Mexico)
Southeast Asia (e.g. Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines)
Middle East (particularly in the UAE)
If you're applying to work in any of these countries, your image should be a passport-size colour photo of yourself in business attire on hand. You want a photo that is high resolution, preferably taken by a professional photographer ‒ selfies won't make the cut. Select a recent photo and make sure it's a clear headshot, as employers do not look favourably on group photos.
5. Personal statement
Most countries expect the inclusion of a personal statement on a CV. This is a short paragraph at the head of the first page that gives an employer a summary of your career accomplishments and objectives. It can take the form of a bulleted list or short paragraph, though most professional writers use the latter. Click here to learn more about writing a strong personal statement.
6. Language skills
Multilingual skills are valuable in any workplace, especially when applying for jobs in countries that have multiple official languages. Therefore, it's crucial to include your language abilities on your CV if you have them.
In addition, if you're applying for jobs in a country where the language spoken is not your native language, it's important to provide a clear, accurate assessment of your abilities, unless the job description clearly states that language skills will not be needed. Also, even if you're applying for jobs in countries where the lingua franca is English, make sure to note differences between spelling conventions in the UK, U.S, Australia, Canada and other English-speaking countries.
Mentioning relocation on your cover letter
Is a cover letter necessary if you are relocating? Absolutely. Here is how you should handle relocation on your cover letter.
What is a relocation cover letter?
A relocation cover letter is almost identical to your typical cover letter, except it details why you are relocating and your plans.
Employers will always need to see the elements of a traditional cover letter which expand on your CV, such as your interest in the role and your relevant experience and skills. But if you have added that you are relocating on your CV, you must explain this further in your cover letter or a prospective employer may choose to proceed with someone more 'stable', as they already reside in the area.
By mentioning your plans to relocate upfront, you reduce the risk of doubt in the HR manager's mind so they can focus on the reasons you're suitable for the role and should be interviewed.
How to write a relocation cover letter
Learn how to write and address your relocation in a cover letter by following the steps below:
Write a concise introduction that conveys your enthusiasm
All cover letters should begin with your interest in the open position and why you are applying for the role. For example, if you're applying for a project management position, have you always been fond of organisation and executing projects and campaigns? Or, perhaps you have always wanted to work for this particular company and have admired it from afar your whole career.
Detail your reasons for relocating and what your plan looks like
In your relocation cover letter, the next section should highlight the fact that you are moving and why this is. If your reasons are convincing, your cover letter will be all the more persuasive.
Some genuine reasons include: Your spouse is moving jobs, you are moving to be closer to elderly parents or you are returning to your hometown after a few years in the city.
Be careful of your phrasing when offering your explanation. For example, if you are moving to London because you have always wanted to, this is great, but a prospective employer may read this as 'could be a flight risk if London living doesn't work out'. However, if you plan to move to London permanently because you know it is a hotspot for jobs in your industry and have witnessed many friends find success in this decision, that's better.
In a couple of sentences then, detail your reason for relocating, your thought-out plan, the relocation's permanence and your ties to the area to convince the employer you're a risk worth taking on. If you can mention a timeframe or the exact date of your move, that will work in your favour.
Add examples of your relevant experience
The following paragraph should address why this position is important to you and the relevant experience you have to offer. Identify the critical requirements listed in the job advert and detail the experience that shows you align with the role. Make the outcomes and achievements of your experience a key focus too, as it will highlight the concrete value you bring to the table.
Emphasise key skills and qualifications
In this section, outline any additional skills and qualifications that the prospective employer deems valuable for this role. Again, refer to the job description and cite the most pertinent abilities in your skill set which mirror the role's requirements. You are essentially offering the HR manager plenty of reasons to invite you for an interview by proving that your arsenal of skills is exactly what they are looking for.
Finish your cover letter with a summary
End your cover letter with a conclusion that summarises your expertise, reasons for relocation and your enthusiasm for the role. Write that you're looking forward to meeting with them to discuss the exciting opportunity and your skills in more detail. Then sign off with 'Kind regards' (or something similar) and your name.
Sample of a relocation cover letter
Offering the prospective employer genuine, persuasive reasons for your move is essential when writing a relocation cover letter.
Below is an example format of a relocation cover letter, designed to be emailed.
There's no reason your career has to tie you down to one location for life. Whether you're simply willing to relocate globally or actively wanting to use work as an impetus to start somewhere new, you can. To be successful, you must be clear about your intentions and knowledgable about what is expected of you.
The rules of CV writing are complex. Let an expert guide you in the right direction. Learn more about working with our professional CV writers.
This article was updated in December 2020. It contains work written by Rikki Wimmer.