Careers in the UK: 9 CV tips for international students

It’s one thing to move to the UK and begin studying in a new country… but the working world can also feel like a mystery. How do you craft the perfect CV for job applications in the UK?

Image of a hiring signIn this series of blogs, we’ll cover all about the things you need to know about Careers in the UK as an international student. King’s Careers & Employability have just released new resources and a whole new layout on our International Students KEATS section – to answer all of your jobs and career-related questions.

For the second blog of the series, let’s talk about what a UK-style CV looks like. A CV is a vital part of your application for work opportunities. The CV in another country could be very different than in the UK, but overall the aim of a CV is to be a quick read of a candidate’s experience, skills and qualifications when applying for a work opportunity. Read on to discover 9 most important tips for King’s international students if you are creating a UK style CV.


1) A CV has many names… what’s the right one?

If you are applying to jobs in the UK, you might wonder what word you need to use: CV, resume or curriculum vitae… use the word CV! A resume is what you’d call the CV in the US, some EU countries and countries in Asia. It’s uncommon to use the full name of a CV, ‘curriculum vitae’ in UK job application settings.


2) Stick to 2 pages maximum

The page length of a UK style CV will fit in a single A4 using one or both sides of the paper. Digitally, that’s two pages maximum. Studies cited in the Telegraph discuss that hiring managers don’t spend long at all looking at CV’s: anything from 12 seconds to 30 seconds is usually the time your CV may be looked at! So, keep your CV short and easy to read for those busy hiring managers!


3) Don’t include your photo!

Some countries expect to have a photo of the applicant with a CV. However, in the UK this is not standard.  The reason is that many companies want to be as fair as possible (and avoid unconscious bias) during the hiring process. A candidate will be judged by their job application and suitability to the role alone – personal information like the appearance of the candidate does not play part in the decision making in the UK hiring process.


4) Provide your personal details

At the top of your document, the hiring manager will expect to see some basic information about the candidate. In the UK, this includes:

  • Name of the candidate
  • Your contact address in the UK
  • Brief contact information like email address, phone number and optional digital platforms, like your LinkedIn profile or professional website.


image of coffee cup and notebook
Photo by Freddy Castro on Unsplash

5) Include the right sections

So, what do you actually put in a CV? Standard sections in a CV in the UK include your education/qualifications and your work experience. In addition to this, and depending on where you are applying, you will likely want to include other sections like language or ITC skills (this means technological skills). You may also want to include themed sections to add relevant experience, for example ‘volunteering experience’ or ‘leadership experience’.


Take a look at our KEATS pages with examples of CVs and information about what sections to include. 


6) Match your application to the job

In the UK, it is expected that you should tailor your CV to fit the job. Don’t send the same CV to dozens of different companies – they will see that your CV is either generic or irrelevant, and this can hurt your application. The more you make your CV specific to a job description, the more positively you will be viewed as a potential candidate.

Tailoring your CV means that you include only the relevant examples of experiences and taking out examples that are irrelevant to the job. For example, if you are applying for a part-time job in a shop, you want to highlight customer service, organisational skills or language skills. Position these examples higher up on your CV so that hiring managers see them easily.


7) Use keywords from the job description

You will have seen some recurring keywords in the job advertisement. Many hiring managers are looking for matching keywords in applicants’ CVs and Cover letters and use these to find the most suitable applicants for interview. So, look for the keywords in the job description and try to use matching language in your CV to list your experience.


8) Don’t rush your CV

You might think that you need a perfect CV before you even have a job to apply. But actually, you don’t! While many people do have some kind of ‘draft version’ to start with or practice their writing skills, don’t worry about having  ‘the perfect CV’ before you have found a job vacancy to apply for.

When you’ve found a job you want to apply to, give yourself a few days to a week before sending out your application. Look at career resources that give you tips on what a UK style CV looks like. Check out our CV guides and KEATS resources to get you started with examples, and watch videos from our past CV workshops to learn more.


9) Get some feedback!

As a King’s student, you have access to lots of support for your job application process. King’s Careers & Employability help students and graduates at King’s with their application, and we can give you advice and feedback.

  • CV pathway: Walking you through what makes a great UK style CV
  • CV Checker: A tool where you can submit your CV, and an Application Adviser will send you back some feedback
  • Virtual CV workshops: You can find our career workshops on King’s CareerConnect, and learn how to work on your CV in a session lead by King’s Careers Consultants.
  • One-to-one appointments: If you would like further help, you can book an Application Advice appointment with us to discuss your CV.


That’s it… our quick guide through a UK style CV. Check out our KEATS pages to read more about writing a CV. In our next blog, we’ll talk more about what makes a UK style Cover Letter.

Image of notebook

Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash