Monthly Wrap: How to tailor your CV for a foreign jobs market

Megan Bray October 27th 2022 - 5 minute read

During the Covid-19 pandemic the jobs market experienced a huge upheaval: between September and November 2020, the redundancy rate in the UK increased by more than during the economic downturn in 2008-9. As people all around the world had to adjust the way they worked – seeking new employment or trading office work for remote working – there came a shift in what people expected from their jobs.

Suddenly, employers had to become more flexible. Previously tight rules around office hours and long commutes were necessarily relaxed. As the pandemic was brought under control and workers were called back to their desks, many of us decided we preferred the remote-working set up: or that actually, part-time suited us better. We had a taste of a different style of working, and it aroused an appetite for change.

Having succeeded in adapting to the requirements of Covid-19 the question became: what else might we adapt to? For many, the thought of moving overseas for a more fulfilling or flexible job became less of a distant dream and more of a real possibility.

The InterNations 2022 report found Denmark, Australia, Ireland and the Netherlands to be the most popular places for working abroad, citing a good work-life balance, comfortable working hours and a competitive local jobs market. This article will explore ways in which anyone can apply for a job abroad, by tailoring their CV to meet expected national standards.


Danish employers are accustomed to receiving CVs which foreground key experience while also demonstrating a little of the applicant’s personality. It is also common for CVs to feature a thumbnail profile image, according to Danish publication ‘The Local’.

To maximise your chances of impressing a potential new employer, review the layout of your CV to see whether it meets Danish formatting conventions. Key things to avoid are cluttered pages, informal presentation and an overly-elaborate font.

Instead, make sure each section is well-spaced. Open with a short summary of who you are: your experience, skills, education and character. This should be no longer than 6-9 lines.

Underneath, provide a chronological list of your qualifications, relevant employment history and other related experience, including volunteering. If you have the space, you could provide a list of anecdotes demonstrating how you’ve met key job criteria.

It’s typical to position a photograph of yourself at the top of the CV, across from your name and contact details. Remember that the CV will probably be printed in black and white (if at all), so make sure the image is still clear in greyscale.

Finally, use any space leftover to provide character references, or else a sentence informing that references are available on request (anbefalinger kan fås ved nærmere henvendelse). Your CV shouldn’t take up more than 2 or 3 pages in total, and each page should be numbered.


Similarly, Australian employees are likely to expect CVs of up to three pages. This generally allows adequate space to expand upon elements of your work history that are relevant for the position.

Regardless of how much detail you provide, the following information will be expected: a character summary of 3-5 sentences; work experience (most recent first); professional achievements; educational background; personal skills and qualities; awards or accolades earned at work or in education and 3-5 references.

Unlike in Denmark, Australian employers are unlikely to expect a photograph. In fact, graphics such as images and charts can confuse the applicant tracking software many companies use, so it’s best to avoid them altogether.

Furthermore, its illegal for employers in Australia to judge whether you’d be an appropriate candidate on the basis of age, marital status, religion, sexual orientation or nationality. For this reason, it can be best to avoid any visual identity markers.

Another important thing to note is language. If you’re using a spellchecker to format your CV, the likelihood is it will be set to American, rather than Australian or British English. Make sure to change the setting on your computer programme so you’re using the appropriate spelling for words such as ‘analyse’ and ‘colour’.

Lastly, include a local Australian address if you can. If you’re still in the process of moving abroad, using a foreign address could suggest to employers that the move isn’t definite and therefore you’re not a reliable prospect. If you don’t yet have an Australian address, you can have mail forwarded to a known contact or a PO box.


An optimum CV for an Irish employer is considered to be approximately 2 pages long – the focus is on keeping things succinct rather than expanding on relevant experience (you should get the opportunity to do this if you’re called to interview).

As with any CV, contact information should be foregrounded, with an up-to-date phone number and email address as priorities. This works out well for jobseekers who don’t yet have a fixed Irish address.

As with Danish and Australian employers, most employers in Ireland will appreciate a personal statement outlining your skills and suitability for the job. Don’t go into too much detail here – you can outline specific qualifications in the main body of the CV.

Be sure to include an accurate employment history, listing addresses and other relevant contact details for each of your previous employers. If you are new to an industry or have recently graduated from education, use this space to talk about the job-related and transferable skills you’ve gained outside of work.

Also make sure to provide your academic accomplishments, with degree-level qualifications foregrounded. Some employers may also be interested in language skills – if you’re proficient in a foreign language, list it here and be sure to include your fluency level.

As in Australia, there are regulations in place in Ireland to prevent employers discriminating based upon relationship status and relationship status. However, if you’re applying for a job with an Irish employer based outside of the EU, it may be necessary to include your nationality.

The Netherlands

CVs in the Netherlands are similar to Irish CVs in that they are generally shorter than elsewhere at 1-2 pages long: expat advice platform ‘Expatica’ recommends a 1-page CV for entry-level positions and 2 pages for more senior positions.

Dutch employers also value a concise writing style: don’t be tempted to embellish upon your achievements or use overly-long sentences. As a priority, list your contact details – name, date of birth, location, phone and email address – work history, and education.

List the latter two in order of where you have most experience; if you’re a recent graduate with only a few jobs under your belt, foreground your academic qualifications. With any relevant work history, give a brief outline of your tasks and responsibilities in each position.

A particular quality valued by Dutch employers is a healthy work-life balance: hiring managers will likely be interested in what you do outside of work in order to gauge your character. Give details of extracurricular activities which show commitment and initiative, particularly those which are voluntary or community based.

For some extra support in the job applications process, you may also like to consider using a local job agency that specialises in finding career opportunities for expats. ‘Undutchables’ is a recruitment agency for non-native folk, and operates across the Netherlands in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, The Hague and Eindhoven.

General Good Practice

There are some CV-writing conventions that are universally recommended and which are worth bearing in mind if it’s been a while since you updated your details. Some of these have been mentioned above already: succinctness, an uncluttered layout and key information such as employment history and education.

Others are unspoken and often overlooked. Dr. Adam Goulston, CEO at ‘IntResume’ urges all job seekers to seriously consider whether they’re right for a job before leaping straight into the application process. Review whether you meet the necessary requirements – at least half of the criteria listed – and whether the job description genuinely interests you.

‘What really matters is this,’ says Goulston, ‘Do you have the skills to do the job? Don’t babble your way around that. Hone in on what the employer wants. Focus on their needs. Read it again. Focus on THEIR needs, not yours.’

Career development consultancy ‘H-Training’ also reminds jobseekers that recruitment today is a largely digitalised process. To give your CV the extra edge, optimise content with keywords to describe your qualifications, experience, and career achievements.  

Furthermore, consider including your full name in the file name of your CV to make it stand out and easier to retrieve from an email.

Once you’ve taken all these tips on board, you stand as good a chance as any in attaining your dream job in your dream country. Don’t be afraid of the competition: remember, as an international applicant, you bring a unique perspective to any corporate or vocational environment that will likely be highly valued. Assess your experience honestly, format your CV appropriately and express yourself clearly – and you’ll be well on your way.

Written by
Megan Bray

Select a topic: