Should you mention your nationality on your resume? Including your nationality is not a mandatory requirement for most resumes. However, in certain scenarios, highlighting your nationality can offer distinct advantages to your application. While basic contact information like name, address, phone number, and email address are typically adequate, specifying your nationality can prove beneficial in specific contexts. We’ll share tips on when to mention your nationality and when to leave it off your CV.
In many countries such as Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, it’s not standard practice to put your nationality on your CV. In fact, as anti-discrimination laws prohibit the selection of employees on the grounds of nationality, race, ethnic origin, marital status, political preference, gender or religion, many recruiters and employers would prefer for you to not include too much personal information.
In South Africa, the situation is not so clear-cut. While the official government site recommends that you include your nationality in your CV, there are others which caution against doing so for fear of identity theft.
Nevertheless, there are instances where it may be beneficial to mention your nationality.
You have a foreign name
If you have a foreign name, it may not always be obvious to employers that you are a citizen of the country where you’re applying for a job. For instance, in the UK, many nationals have ethnic minority backgrounds but were born and bred in the UK.
However, if you have any doubts about being disqualified on the basis of your name, you could include your nationality on your CV or mention it in your cover letter.
You’re a foreign national
With a few exceptions, most countries require you to have a work permit or residence visa, if you’re applying for a job as foreign national:
- Citizens of New Zealand are entitled to work in Australia and vice versa
- Citizens of EU countries can move freely between the member states for work
- Citizens of the UK and Ireland have the right to work in each countries’ without restrictions due to the Common Travel Area
With this mind, even if you do meet the requirements, it’s a good to state this in your CV to avoid being automatically disqualified from the application process:
Nationality: British, eligible to work in Germany due to residence visa
Aside from eligibility, employers may be interested in your nationality if you’re applying for a job where language skills are required. In such cases, mentioning that you’re a German citizen, for example, could help you stand out from non-native German speakers.
Your nationality could also work in your favour if the employer is trying to tap into a new market and needs your knowledge of that country’s customs and culture.
You’re an expat living abroad
If you’re an expat living abroad and are applying for a job in your home country, it’s worth mentioning your nationality on your CV, so that employers are aware that you’re eligible to work in that particular country.
You’re applying for a government position
For many governmental positions, you are required to be a citizen of that particular country. This is because these types of jobs require “special allegiance to the state”.
In such cases, you will need to state your nationality on your CV and check if there are additional requirements that you need to meet, e.g. whether you will need to have spent X continuous years in a particular country, so that criminal record or credit card checks can be carried out.
This also applies to positions in law and finance.
You’re applying for a job in a job-Western country
Many countries in Asia and the Middle East don’t have anti-discrimination laws as in Western countries. In such countries, employers often require you to confirm your nationality before offering a salary package.
While this may seem unfair and conditions are improving, the rationale behind this is that the value of qualifications from some countries is considered higher than others. Employers may also base salaries on a candidate’s previous income back home.
Other ways to indicate your eligibility for work
If you choose not to state your nationality on your CV, there are other ways to indicate your eligibility for work.
When you fill in an application form online, there is often a checkbox asking you to confirm whether you are eligible to work in the job’s location. For example, if you’re a UK citizen living abroad, employers will usually want assurance that you are permitted to work in the UK.
If you’re asked to provide a cover letter in addition to or instead of an application form, you could add a sentence at the end of the cover letter to confirm your nationality.
The correct way to state your nationality
If you opt to include your nationality in your CV, it’s important to state it the correct way. For example, if you’re from the UK, you are British and not English as nationality is linked to the country of citizenship and not to race, ethnicity or language.
While England is a country, it’s not a sovereign (independent state). Therefore, your nationality would be British, in reference to the UK or Great Britain.
Some other examples:
- Ireland – Irish
- South African – South African
With regards to New Zealand, it is acceptable to write ‘New Zealand’ as your nationality as there is no adjectival form (demonym), as with other countries, to describe citizens of New Zealand.
When you don’t need to mention your nationality
As mentioned above, in most cases, you won’t need to mention your nationality. With more and more companies expanding into the national market, employers are far more likely to be interested in your skills, experience and knowledge than your nationality.
If you do need to allude to it, it’s a good idea to provide an explanation for anything that might appear unusual to employers in the accompanying cover letter:
As you can see from my address, I am currently resident in Germany. However, I am a UK national and therefore, won’t require visa sponsorship now or in the future.