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Applying for a Job in the UK

What should you keep in mind when applying for a job in the UK? What should you include in your cover letter? How should you format your CV? How should you prepare for a job interview? Learn all about cover letters, CVs, and interviews in our InterNations Guide on applying for a job in the UK.
Make a good impression during your interview by dressing professionally and speaking confidently.

  • The only personal details you need to include in your CV are name, address, and contact details. It is also not customary to include a picture in a CV in the UK.
  • Your cover letter should be short and only focus on your skills and experiences relevant for the job.
  • Make sure to research the company and prepare answers to anticipated questions as well as questions of your own to show interest when being invited to an interview. Further, dress professionally and conservatively.

Writing the Perfect Cover Letter

The purpose of a cover letter is to highlight your achievements and skills. When applying for a job in the UK, be sure to personalize your cover letter for each application and show that you’ve done your research on the company. In your cover letter, focus on the relevant skills and experience which make you the perfect candidate for that particular position. Go into detail on the specific tasks you did in previous jobs which you could use for this position.

Keep your cover letter short and succinct and use clear, business-like language. The letter should not exceed five short paragraphs which fit onto a single page, so that employers can read through it quickly. When applying for a job in the UK, always address your cover letters to a specific person, usually the contact person listed in the job advertisement. Use the same font and text size throughout the letter. At the end, invite the employer to find out more about you by reading the attached CV. State how you’d like to be contacted, and make sure those contact details are included in your CV.

The Dos and Don’ts of a Curriculum Vitae

When applying for a job in the UK, the only personal details which must be included in a CV are your name, address, and contact details. Everything else, including age, sex, marital status, and nationality, is optional. When deciding what to include under personal details, you should take two things into consideration: Is this relevant information? Will including this information help me get an interview? Also, please note that in the UK it is not customary to include a photo with your CV.

After your personal details, you can include an optional personal profile. This consists of a few short sentences which summarize your key strengths as they relate to the position you’re applying for. The main purpose of the personal profile is to grab the reader’s attention.

For the main part of your CV, start by listing your employment information in reverse chronological order if you have already been working for some time. For each position you have held, include your employer’s name, the dates you held the position, the job title, and a bullet-point list of your main duties. When applying for a job in the UK, it is a good idea to tailor your CV to fit each job description, which can mean highlighting certain positions and skills more than others.

After your work experience, list your university degrees, also in reverse chronological order. Don’t forget to list your language skills, as well as any other relevant trainings or experience. Your CV should not exceed two pages in length, and should be written in an active voice, using powerful verbs such as led, managed, and achieved. The National Careers Service's website offers information and guidance on CVs, different job profiles, and more.

Almost There: Preparing for Your Interview

Once you’ve submitted a successful job application and been contacted by your potential employer, it’s time to prepare for your interview. Remember to dress professionally and conservatively. It is always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

Before your interview, make sure to do your research about the company. Anticipate the questions your interviewers might ask, and practice suitable answers. Also think of questions you would like to have answered regarding the company and your potential role.

When you arrive for your interview, remember that how you look, act and sound are more important in forming a first impression than what you actually say. Therefore it is very important to speak clearly and confidently. However, don’t cross the line from confidence to arrogance. It can be very off-putting to interviewers if you act like you have already gotten the job.


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