Transform your North American résumé into a UK-style CV

Back in 1887, the British writer, Oscar Wilde wrote … “we have really everything in common with America these days, except, of course, language.”

It is still true today so if you want the information in your résumé to be instantly understood and appreciated by a potential employer in Britain, you will want to make a few changes.

Whether your résumé is formatted using the reverse chronological, the functional, or the combination style, this is fine. Check three things, however – be sure that your contact details show your telephone number as you would dial it from the UK – complete with country code – AND that your employment start & finish dates include months as well as years – AND finally, that you have explained all employment gaps that are longer than about 3 months.

Just as you would use your profession’s jargon and terminology in your résumé, you want to use language that puts you ‘in’ the job in the UK.

To edit the descriptions of your work experience, search the Internet for appropriate job vacancies in the UK and note the key words that are used to describe your target job. There may be other differences, so avoid clichés and idiomatic expressions that might not be well—known outside the US. Be sure that your achievements are written in a factual, not boastful, style. If you use the correct tone and expressions, you are demonstrating that you are a good  organisational fit to a British firm.

There are several websites that compare UK English and North American English. Read through the words and see if any should be changed. For instance, did you use “specialty”?  then, change it to “speciality” … “oriented?” – change it to orientated … “while” – change that to “whilst”. As well, note that  “learnt and spelt”  are spelt – and pronounced – with a “T” instead of “ED” in Britain.

A misspelt word on your CV could be disastrous! Your CV could end up in the bin – that’s the trash!

Although using US spelling consistently throughout your documents is not incorrect per se, the reader will expect to see UK spelling. Don’t let a potential employer stop and stumble on a word that appears to be “wrong.”

Start by changing Word’s language setting to UK English and doing a spell check. Be aware that some words – like the résumé standards – organise, strategise, and prioritise – are spelt with ‘ise’ in the UK and Word won’t flag them as misspelt if you’ve written “I- ZED-E”.

Zed means Zee, by the way.

Finally, change the paper size to A4; fix the tabs; proof it again; and submit it.

As Oscar inferred, there are many aspects of work, and life, that the British and the Americans do have in common! So, if you’re heading for the UK, transform your résumé into a CV, and discover them for yourself.

Resources: Audio Link