How to create an international CV and adjust your MENA CV
min video //
min read //
June 30, 2023
When applying for jobs, you'll edit your CV constantly. There are a few common mistakes on tech CVs that you'll want to have weeded out. But on top of that, customizing your CV is extremely important in ensuring it reaches the top of the pile. But in all of this customization and editing, have you considered creating an international CV?
What is an international CV?
Let's start with the basics. An international CV is simply a CV or resume specifically edited to appeal to companies working internationally or jobs where you'd be working internationally. This usually will be sent to a position alongside a cover letter.
An international CV caters to several different kinds of opportunities, including:
- jobs at an international company (operating in multiple countries or regions),
- jobs at a regional/local company where you'd be working in multiple countries (frequent travel or relocation),
- or, in the age of remote work, jobs where you'd be working in your own country with teams worldwide.
In any of these situations, your CV must highlight specific skills and show that you are ready to work abroad or with international teams.
So, there are a few considerations for creating an international CV:
- Accreditations, certificates, training
- Language skills
- Personal information
These are all items that you might include on your CV for regional or local positions. We'll discuss what might need to be adjusted to create a CV designed to help you land that international position!
1. Accreditations, certificates, training
Accreditation, certificates, degrees, and training are all important parts of any CV. But if you're living in the MENA region, the institutions or kinds of courses might not be well known in an international environment.
So what can you do to ensure that any international hiring manager or recruiter understands your acquired skills and qualifications?
How to list your qualifications for an international CV
- - Research international equivalents and certifications that align with the local accreditation I possess to establish its global recognition and value.
- - Provide a detailed description of the local accreditation, highlighting its purpose, requirements, and notable projects or assessments, demonstrating its rigor and relevance in the tech field.
- - Relate the local accreditation to international standards, certifications, or qualifications, emphasizing its alignment with globally accepted tech industry practices and competencies.
- - Translate any specific terminology or acronyms associated with the local accreditation to ensure clarity and understanding for an international tech audience.
- - Showcase the transferable skills gained through the local accreditation, emphasizing in-demand tech skills, problem-solving abilities, leadership qualities, and industry-specific expertise applicable to international tech roles.
- - Provide supporting evidence such as project outcomes, research papers, publications, or endorsements from respected tech professionals to substantiate the value and impact of the local accreditation.
- - Customize the presentation of the local accreditation for each international tech application, highlighting the aspects that directly align with the job requirements, industry trends, and international tech standards.
On most CVs, it is important to include where you're living so that employers know whether or not you'd have to relocate for a job. As a general rule for all CVs, we wouldn't recommend adding your home address— the city/country format is just fine.
When you're applying for international jobs, fully remote jobs with international companies, or jobs where you know you might have to relocate, sometimes leaving out your exact location can work to your advantage.
(If you're curious about remote roles for MENA professionals, this article is for you.)
Removing your location sounds crazy, right? Well, before you delete your location completely, remember: customization is key!
Let's review some of the most common scenarios and what you can do:
- - Applying for a fully remote position: Many fully remote positions will share preferred time zones or countries where they can employ people. In this case, make sure you fit those requirements (or ask the recruiter/recruitment team) and instead of your location, include your timezone or simply country— whichever the role specifies. You might also consider "branding" yourself as a remote worker in your summary/bio.
- - Applying to an international company abroad: Look at the countries where the company operates or has offices. If your location matches one of those countries, feel free to list it. If not, it may be better to leave your location out. If you know you may have to relocate, you can instead add: "Open to relocation."
- - Applying to a job with frequent international travel: Depending on the type of travel, it could be advantageous instead of your location to include any relevant travel or work visas you might hold independently. Having independent visas to select countries could be an advantage.
Removing your location is a decision that is best left to you in the context of the job you're applying to. But the suggested advice here only seeks to remove potential hesitations at an early stage (CV review) regarding your location. Ultimately, employers may or may not be able to hire you due to your location due to internal policies or compliance.
If possible, you may want to check in the case of relocation, that the employer can sponsor your visa (if needed).
3. Language skills
If you're applying for international positions, English is typically the working language. Even in many organizations in the MENA region, you should check what the working language is. (The language of the job description is usually a good indicator.)
Make sure that your language skills match the job description. A few examples:
- - An international company located in Germany: Ensure your English language skills come up first. You may also want to include any German language skills you have.
- - Remote organization requiring French: First check their working language. If English, proceed with highlighting English, closely followed by your French. If they have another working language, highlight that before English or any other language.
- - A Saudi company hiring remotely: First check their working language. If English, proceed with highlighting English, closely followed by Arabic.
Remember, it never pays off to lie or stretch the truth about your language skills— especially regarding a working language.
What level system should I use for my languages?
Companies accept the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) or anecdotal proficiencies. If you've completed official language training with a CEFR equivalent, use the CEFR framework as this is more precise.
4. Personal information
In many MENA countries, it's relatively common to include personal information like marital status, age, gender, national ID numbers, or, sometimes, religious affiliations. If you're applying to global positions or international companies, these are typically the first things you should remove from your CV.
Why? Simply put: employers do not consider these elements relevant to your employment.
In most international work environments, people prefer not to share these personal details as it may invite bias. Many employers cannot ask you for this information outside of issuing your contract or arranging your salary payment— in which case HR'll handle it.
Should I include my hobbies and interests on my CV?
This is probably among the most asked questions to the Re:Coded Careers Team! We have an answer for you, but it's probably not what you want.
The answer? It depends.
Including your hobbies on your CV can add a layer of personality or create an opportunity to connect with someone in the hiring process who shares your interests. Additionally, you may have a hobby related to the job. So if you were applying to a design position, drawing could be seen as a relevant hobby.
On the other hand, some hobbies may not add anything to your application. Unless you are applying to a job that requires hand-eye coordination, a competitive spirit, or experience in the sports industry, you might want to leave off your time on the football/soccer team.
Last but not least (and certainly one of the most divided opinions!): photos. Should you include your photo on your CV?
In many parts of the world, the MENA region, including your photo on your CV is encouraged. But this is not the case everywhere. So when you're looking to internationalize your CV, you may want to take a second look at including your headshot.
Our advice? Unless you're applying for a modeling career, we think it's best left off the CV.
Why? A few reasons:
- Bias: Your photo can introduce bias into the hiring process.
- Not related to your skills: Your CV should be all about your skills. Your photo doesn't really play a role in that.
- Potentially negative: Even if you think your headshot looks great and professional, the hiring manager or recruiter may not.
Your photo adds very little value to your CV and takes up a lot of space you could be devoting to experience and skills. Unless it's required, we think it's best to leave out.
The world is eagerly waiting for talented individuals like you to make a global impact. Don't let your CV limit your potential to just one geographic location. Embrace the thrilling opportunity of applying for international or remote jobs!
Imagine immersing yourself in diverse cultures, expanding your professional network across borders, and gaining invaluable experiences that will shape you into a well-rounded individual. It's time to set your sights on the international stage and let your skills shine on a global scale.