Resume tips for expats

10 tips for expats to have a smooth looking CV

10 tips for expats to have a smooth looking CV  to help you when applying for jobs in the Netherlands.

Whether you’re fresh off the plane in the Netherlands or a veteran looking for a new job. Marloes Heideveld is here to help you, with some tips to polish and spice up your resume. Here are her 10 tips to a resume which we’re sure is ‘Netherlands proof’.

1. Personal details

In the case, you are an expat not applying for a job that requires skills from the 1980s, make sure that your resume doesn’t look like this. Your marital status, personal number (BSN), typing course and swimming certificate are all things that shouldn’t be on your CV.

Make sure you mention your name, address, phone number, email-address and Linkedin profile if you have one. Other things, even your birthdate, are not necessarily important and interesting to other people nowadays, it is 2019.

2. Less is more

Take this as a rule of thumb. A resume should  NEVER be more than 2 pages. Recruiters do not have the time nor the interest to read a short version of your life story. If you are good with layouts, even try to fit in all the relevant information on one page, so that one can immediately see what your strengths and relevant experiences are.

3. Keep it tidy

Talking about layouts, there are plenty of free layouts to find on the internet, Google drive or Canva. So don’t go through the hassle of using WordArt and all kind of complicated functions to make sure your resume looks structured and clear, please use something that already exists. Reading a resume is like reading a newspaper, you want to be able to see the sections that are of interest immediately without having to look for it.

4. Cut the crap 

If you are applying for a particular job, then only mention the relevant previous jobs or experiences to this specific job. If you are applying for an IT architect role, you do not need to mention your babysitting experience. However, if you are applying for a management role, then the fact that you were the team leader in a supermarket at the age of 16 already might be interesting. So make sure you present only relevant facts to the reader.

5. Like your bedroom

As you can notice from the former subjects, treat your resume as your parents would have liked you to have treated your bedroom back in the days. Keep it tidy, less is more (for what is worth, makeup yourself what this has to do with ;)) and make sure things do not disappear under the mess.

When you’ve managed to decide on which experiences/previous jobs you feel are most relevant, then describe the responsibilities of those jobs in three to four bullet points. Use short sentences to elaborate on your tasks and duties. However, make sure that you don’t make your responsibilities look ‘lighter’ than they were, give yourself some credit. On the other hand, don’t overestimate it. Once you get that job interview, the recruiter will ask some in-depth questions and expects you to give some examples about your responsibilities.

6. Numbers speak louder than words

In order to stand out from others, make your achievements measurable. A recruiter will remember this more:

Increased sales by 20% by targeting the right consumer group through innovative ads on the internet. Than this: One of my responsibilities was to renew the way the company was advertising on the internet.

For every job or internship you did, see how you can state your achievements in numbers. In this way, it is easy to see how much value you can add to a company or team. In addition, it proves that you are result oriented and able to achieve goals, may it be personal or a contribution to a company goal.

7. Do not underestimate yourself

Maybe you do not have a lot of work experience or your previous experiences do not match your desired new job. No worries! In every job, internship or voluntary job is relevant experience. Just think of the ways the job you had during high school might be significant for the office job you are applying for right now. Did you manage to stock the shelves in time? Great, mention that you are able to work with deadlines. Were your notes that you had to make during meetings at your sports club always clear, structured and contained well-defined action points for the other members? Perfect! You are punctual, well-structured and able to give others direction in their tasks. Do not underestimate yourself, you are capable of a lot more than you think.

8. To picture or not to picture

A classic debate in the Netherlands. Personally,  I have been taught that you should never (not) be selected for a job based on your looks. You should be selected because you have the right competencies and personality. If you are uncomfortable with putting a picture on your resume, then don’t. It is not a requirement and if they do ask for it during the application procedure you might want to ask yourself if you really want to be part of this company. However, if you do decide that you want a picture then keep the following in mind. It should be professional and representative. So no beach pictures, no selfies, no Snapchat bunny ears, no headphones, no other persons on it (even if you’ve cut them from the picture). Wear neutral business clothes on the picture, make sure the background is not disturbing and let somebody else take the picture.

9. Adapt to your environment

Think of your resume as a first date. You can only make the first impression once. If you are applying for a law firm, then make sure the outlook of your CV matches the characteristics of a law firm. Well structured, clean and professional. On the other hand, if you are applying for a marketing job, you may want to impress the company with your skills right away. Create an attractive layout, maybe with some nice colors and figures and show that you are able to draw attention in a positive manner!

10. You are NOT a number

You only have one goal with your resume. Make sure that the reader remembers you. What you really want is to stand out from all the other ones who graduated from the same university, did the same internships or worked in the same roles as you did. We want to get to know YOU! Start your resume with a short introduction about yourself. What are your main characteristics? What do your friends say about you? What are your dreams and aspirations? Maybe you can even fit in a funny statement about yourself. You are not a list of competencies and capabilities, you are a human person that is appreciated by other people. Make sure that the reader gets a sneak peek of the person you really are. After all, your new job has to be a place that you can be your true self.

I hope this helps! Let us know how you got on with our tips...


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