The difficulty in translating a CV lies in the fact that education systems are unique to each country. Move onto job descriptions and company departments, and there’s a whole new gobbledygook to translate!
1st rule of writing your English resume
Place yourself in the shoes of someone who did not grow up, get educated and start their career in your culture or language.
If you’re not a native English speaker, no one expects your CV to be in perfect English – but you can do a lot to ensure your English resume is as understandable as possible.
Spelling & punctuation errors, a mix of more than one English!
Decide whether you’re going to write in British or US English (or another English.) I’d recommend picking the English you are most familiar with.
To ensure the punctuation as well as spelling and grammar are checked as you type, choose your English before you even write one word.
To do this, go to Tools/Language and pick your preferred English.
2. CAPITAL LETTERS
Incorrect use, overuse and inconsistent use!
Every language has different rules about capitals. People have a tendency to capitalise a word unnecessarily because they think it’s important. Resist this temptation!
A formal name of a degree is capitalised:
Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature OR BA in English Literature
Bachelor of Science Degree in Astronomy OR BSc in Astronomy
Note – bachelor’s or master’s take an apostrophe to mark possession.
When I was studying for my master’s I worked part-time in a law firm.
- Course names are not capitalised:
Courses included: organisation and management, project management etc.
Note – abbreviations remain as capitals in course titles, such as IP law, EU law.
- Job titles
Use capitals when they appear as the title above the job description:
Asia Director, Marketing Manager etc
When referring to your work in that position, capitals are not necessary.
As marketing manager, I was responsible for five product lines.
3. EDUCATIONAL EQUIVALENCES
Degrees/diplomas/certificates left unexplained
Every country has its own education system and ways of naming degrees and diplomas.
Don’t make the person reading your CV lose interest because they can’t understand what would be the equivalent level diploma or degree in their country.
Remember, recruiters scan resumes very quickly – if they don’t understand something in your English resume, they’ll probably move your it onto the ‘no’ pile.
Where can you find equivalences for your diplomas, degrees and company units?
- Linguee – a search engine that shows bilingual documents from European sites.
- Wordreference – online dictionary for most European languages.
4. VERB TENSES
Incorrect past tense
Tenses are the first giveaway that a person is not a native speaker – in any language.
Apart from your current job, everything else in your English resume should be written in the past tense.
For once in English it’s simple – use the Past Simple!
In a CV, we tend to write without the pronoun, so no need to put ‘I’.
- Managed a team of 150 people
- Created a marketing campaign for the launch of two new products
If you are using bullet points or several phrases to describe your work, try to start each one in the same way. In the example below, each phrase starts with a verb:
- Managed a team of 150 recruiters
- Designed and implemented an online recruitment programme
- Increased number of recruits by 115%
Below, all the sentences start differently; you’ll see it’s harder to read this way:
- Managed 150 recruitment officers
- Design and implementation of a recruitment programme
- Staff recruitment increase of 115%
5. TITLE AND STRUCTURAL ERRORS IN CV/RESUME
A CV is divided by titles, these are short and to the point:
- Work Experience
- Languages etc
Find a template online and use titles you are sure are in correct English.
Here are some odd ones we’ve found recently:
- Personal features – you’re not uploading your profile to a dating site!
- Personal data – you’re not inputting your information into an HR database!
FINAL CHECK FOR ERRORS
And finally, when you’ve written your CV, edited it down to make the writing as tight as possible, do that SPELL CHECK to make sure it’s as faultless as possible.
Languages – my final note!
Don’t be tempted to say you’re fluent in English unless:
- You are!
- You can confidently carry out an interview in English over Skype or face to face.
- You have asked a native English speaker to check your English CV (and cover letter) and you are sure they are both error free.
The world awaits you …
… Good luck with your international career!
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