Nationality on a CV

NationalityShould you include your nationality on a CV?

The simple answer is ‘no’ but there are a number of circumstances in which you can include your nationality on a CV. It’s not a legal requirement and from an employers’ perspective I don’t think it’s something that they’d be interested in.

As with age, gender and other personal characteristics, there a number of laws that has been passed in order to protect people from discrimination in the recruitment process and in the work place. The Equality Act 2000 and other similar legislation in the UK prohibit discrimination based upon race, colour or nationality. With this in mind, including your nationality on a CV may open the doors of discrimination and prejudice against you thus reducing the likelihood of you securing a job.

I speak to lots of employers on a daily basis and they’re not really interested in the candidate’s nationality. Moreover, they want to know if the candidate is eligible to work in the UK and the type of visa they have. Agencies are particularly hot on this and often the first thing they ask me is whether the person in question has the right to work in the UK or has a Biometric Card. The nationality of the person is irrelevant provided that they have all the necessary documentation to work here.

In some circumstances if the eligibility to work can be determined from the candiates name e.g. Tom Goss who happens to be applying for a job in the UK, there is no reason for Tom to include on his CV that he is a British citizen. On the other hand, if you’re an EU national or a non-EU national then I would suggest you include your nationality. Furthermore, I would also include a sentence indicating that you have the right to work in the UK.

Nationality: Bangladeshi                                                                  Eligible to work in the UK

Benefits of including your nationality on a CV?

So what are the benefits of including your nationality on a CV? Well, the first and most obvious one is that it can indicate your ability to fit into a diverse work culture where your language and communication skills are a pre-requisite for the job. For example, if you’re applying for a job in a warehouse where the employees’ are predominately Polish nationals then your cultural awareness and language skills will benefit you and quite possibly the employer.

Secondly, if your applying for a job with a company that is thinking of expanding overseas then your nationality can help the company tap into a new market in that particular country. I recently had the pleasure of working with a wholesaler who provided fresh fruit and veg to Indian restaurants in the West Midlands. The owner had already tapped into the Asian and English market but he was struggling to make an impact in the Chinese market. Despite all his best efforts, he was unable to generate any business so he decided to employ a Chinese national (recruited as a result of candidate including his nationality on his CV). Since then, he has not looked back. The benefits of including nationality on a CV might be limited but as this example clearly shows, with every general rule there is always an exception.

 When to mention nationality on a CV?

1] If you’re an EU national with a ‘foreign sounding name’ you might want to include your nationality and the fact that you have the right to work in the UK.

ANDRE SCHEVCHENKO
123 Unknown Road, Unknown City, B12 3RQ
Nationality: Ukrainian, eligible to work in the UK

2] Students who come from outside the EU say from India or Bangladesh are often restricted to the number of hours they are permitted to work. In such cases it’s advisable that the individual clearly states their eligibility to work in the UK and how many hours i.e.

Nationality:           Bangladeshi, eligible to work 16 hours in the UK whilst studying

3] The third and final situation where you should mention your nationality on your CV is when you’re applying for a job abroad. Unlike the UK, many countries in Asia and the Middle East do not have any anti-discrimination laws i.e. Dubai. We all know that Dubai is a popular holiday destination but as popular as it is with holiday makers it is also a popular destination for foreign workers from a variety of different countries. I know a number of people who have applied for jobs in the Middle East and have had their application either accepted or rejected purely on the basis of their nationality.   The worrying thing is that nationality is also an important factor in determining someone’s salary. It sounds a little unfair that your nationality is an overriding factor in determining whether you’re accepted for a job and how much you are paid but unfortunately that’s the world we live in.

In conclusion then, I feel that under normal circumstances it might be wise to omit your nationality from CV’s as there is no legal requirement or any significant benefits for doing so. As I’ve highlighted in this piece, there are a few exceptional circumstances in which it is recommended for the candidate to disclose their nationality on a CV but these are few and far between.