Should I attach a photo? What about a cover letter? Do I need to translate my CV into Italian? If you’re about to apply for a job in Italy, you may not yet know the answers to such questions.
To help pick your way through Italian CV etiquette, The Local spoke to Laura Gangitano, an Italian recruitment consultant for Hays, specializing in the banking and insurance sector.
1. To translate or not to translate? “In Italy,” says Gangitano, “English is widely spoken, especially in sectors like banking and insurance. So if you’re applying for an English-speaking position, then an English CV will definitely be more appreciated."
2. Qualifications. Qualifications vary from country to country - so it’s best to give more detail, where possible. In England, it suffices to write that you achieved a “2:1” or “First,” while in Italy it’s best to put down the actual mark rather than the overall grade. “Normally, if an Italian doesn’t put down their final grade,” says Gangitano, “it suggests they got a low mark.”
3. Work comes first. “Usually, the first part of a CV will be dedicated to personal data,” says Gangitano. “Although it’s also an English thing, it’s particularly important in Italy to put your date of birth at the top of your CV.” Unlike on a British CV, however, previous jobs must be listed before education, she warns, because your professional experience counts the most. “You should list your jobs backwards, starting with your most recent experience back to your master’s, undergraduate or high school qualification.
4. Keep it professional. Employers elsewhere in Europe may be interested to hear of your passion for Italian neo-realist cinema and the fact that you play Ultimate Frisbee every Wednesday, but in Italy hobby talk should be kept to a minimum, warns Gangiatano. “The exception is only if it’s something particularly interesting or relevant, such as voluntary work.”
5. State your nationality. Gangitano counsels against leaving out your nationality: “It’s important for employers to know where someone is from – particularly whether they are from an EU or non-EU country. Many multinational companies have special policies for people outside the EU.” If you’re from outside the EU, then you won’t need to enclose a copy of your residence permit, she adds, but it helps to state that you have one.
6. Photo. “While it’s not always necessary to include a photo, if you do decide to attach one then it should be a formal passport photo – i.e. the top half your body,” says Gangitano. It goes without saying that modeling-type shots are a definite no-no and neutral backgrounds are preferred.
7. Keep it brief. Italy is increasingly out of step with the standard European CV template, according to Gangitano – and particularly when it comes to brevity. “Ideally," she says, “you shouldn’t exceed two pages – with the exception of professions such as engineering or law, where you are required to write in more depth about publications or projects you’ve been involved in. In Italy, employers tend to be more interested in where you have worked rather than what you tell them you can do.”
8. How good is your Italian? There are no formal certificates of proficiency that are recognized by all Italian employers. So you just need to state whether you have a “fluida” (fluent), “buona” (good) or “discreta” (moderate) knowledge of Italian, says Gangitano.”
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9. Keep the cover letter relevant. Many English-speaking countries' employers won’t even consider a candidate unless they attach a decent cover letter, but in Italy it’s optional. “I only recommend attaching one if you want to underline a specific point – such as why you want to apply to a particular firm,” advises Gangitano. But she advises against being too generic. “If you’re just going to say: ‘Your firm seems really nice and I’m the perfect candidate,’ then best to leave it out.”
10. Provide references. Although Italian employers are generally not very fussy about references, it’s a good idea to include two names of referees, with their contact details, says Gangitano. If you’ve just graduated, then there’s no need to worry - “The name of your supervisor will suffice”.
Laura Gangitano is a recruitment consultant for Hays in Italy and manager of the banking and insurance division.