CV Formatting Essentials For The International Job Market

CV Formatting Essentials For The International Job Market

Due to the sheer volume of CVs and applications that come through a recruiters desk now, the time they spend viewing CVs has diminished. They now administer the help of automated technology to suggest suitable candidates for vacancies. (You can read more about that here

There is “no perfect format” for a CV, but there are certain sections you must include to guarantee your CV can not only be found within this software, but also stand out to recruiters and HR managers.

Find out important sections you must include on your CV (in order ) to help it stand out on the international job market:

Executive Summary

An executive summary has become an essential part of the modern day CV. Usually located at the very top of your CV, it has become a great way to introduce who you professionally and what sets you apart from the crowd. Mention your skills, career highlights, and how you can be of benefit to the organisation. To use a metaphor, it is essentially the introduction to a novel. If this doesn’t capture the attention of the reader then the likelihood of the audience reading further is slim. Make it as eye catching as possible. Mention the one thing you think will get you the job and make sure it is as visible as possible.

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Core Competencies

Including a Core competency section is a fantastic way to quickly exemplify your key skills to the reader but also significantly boosts your chances to be found by an ATS. List them in bullet point format so the reader can quickly scan them to qualify you as a suitable candidate. Anywhere from 10-20 is more than sufficient and just below your executive summary is the most logical position for these keywords.

Experience Section

The experience section is an obvious inclusion on a CV. It is one of the most important sections as it offers the chance to pinpoint positions you have held, the work you were responsible for and achieved whilst at various companies. Guaranteeing this section is presented correctly is usually the most common error. This section needs to be able to scanned and digested easily so the reader knows instantly where, what and how you have accomplished what you have accomplished. 

As mentioned in the core competency section, bullet points offer a way for the reader to quickly scan the information and digest the important parts. Utilising bullet points during your experience section is therefore indispensable if you want your CV to stand out from others.

A common question asked with this section is, “Do I need to list all of the positions I have held on my CV?” Technically no. You only want the most relevant and recent positions you have held within this section. As far back as a detailed (and bullet pointed) 10-year history or 3-4 positions should be adequate. Any previous positions that don’t fall into this category could be added to another ‘previous experience’ section. 


With the most important sections out of the way of your CV, we then need to add sections that have relevance for various reasons.

Listing your education and qualifications is important nowadays as most positions require some sort of tertiary education. Additionally, most roles also require certain qualifications as a pre-requisite to the vacancy so listing these can be a huge advantage.

Many people ask if listing your grade is essential, which it is not. However, if you did graduate with distinction (such as honors, or cum laude) then listing your grade will do your chances no harm. If it is good, brag, if it is not, no need to mention it!

Contact Information

Contact information is the final piece to the puzzle. It should be located right at the end of your CV including your name, and best way to contact you including phone number and email. 

As an expat applying abroad you can also list your visa status, as this will most likely be one of the certain questions you will be asked.  Similar to education, however, if you don’t have a visa, don’t list it. 

The contact section on CVs within the Middle East is frequently different to a standard Western CV. Due to the lack of an anti-discriminatory law they may require other factors here such as marital status, photo and gender which you may not be used to. However, for more information on this, please click here.


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