Writing the International Resume to Apply for Jobs Overseas
As if writing the resume and a curriculum vitae (CV) wasn’t complicated enough, if you’re looking to apply for a job overseas, you will need an international resume. An international resume is particularly suited for when you apply to a job with an overseas-based company. Some countries may still refer to the international resume as a CV, but it is not the same as the traditional CV, which is the standard form used by job applicants in academia, science, and medical science. For more on the traditional CV, read: “Job Seekers: Know When to Use a CV vs. the Resume.”
Like the traditional resume and CV, the international resume has specific sections to cover an applicant’s educational background, professional experience, and skills. The international resume however works to pay respect to the main language of the employer. For example, in the U.S. we may spell the word “recognize,” but in Europe it is spelled “recognise.” Minor adjustments to writing should be made to suit the writing styles of the employer’s homeland language. The paper size in which the international resume is submitted on may also be different. In European countries, they often use A4 size paper. There are also other adjustments that should be made on the international resume to help prevent any sense of cultural divide between the job applicant and the overseas employer.
Critical sections of the international resume include: Summary Statement, Education, Work Experience, and Skills. The prioritization of these sections on the international resume will vary for each job applicant, but the order of information will generally run in reverse chronological order (presenting the most recent work first). Some international resumes may also be written to take on a hybrid (combination) form where two styles are blended to show work experience in reverse chronological order while putting a strong focus to highlight relevant skills. There are also some countries which expect the international resume to present information in chronological order (from past to present). Careful research should be completed to understand each country’s preferred style of resume writing. This will help to avoid any sense of cultural division between the job applicant and employer. If you’re applying to jobs in Europe, Europass also offers resources to help job applicants with the necessary documents.
On the international resume, it’s particularly critical to specify your language fluencies. Many international resumes will be written with a designated section labeled “Languages” or “Language Proficiencies” to inform employers of this information. Even for an applicant with the right experience and skills, without fluency in language employers may be hesitant and have concern about potential barriers in communication. Presenting your language fluencies on the international resume helps to eliminate any such concern. In some situations, it may also be necessary to write the international resume in the native language of the employer’s country and submit it along with the English version to further express cultural fit.
Regardless of whether you’re applying to a job in the U.S. or internationally, always make it easy for employers to contact you. In the case of the international resume, this means adding the international dial code for your country. An employer should not need to take additional steps to look up that information to contact you. It should be readily available.
In the U.S. it is not customary to present personal information on the resume due to anti-discrimination laws, but on the international resume it is quite common to have a section labeled “Personal Profile” where you’d include your birth year, gender, marital status, and nationality/citizenship. In some countries, the international resume is also submitted with a personal photo. If you are accustomed to the standards of resume writing in the U.S., there may be discomfort revealing such personal details on the international resume, but it is the standard for many other countries. Always carefully review and research the standards of the country you apply to.
Clearly, the international resume has its similarities and differences to the U.S.-based resume and CV. As a job applicant, it’s critical to tailor your international resume to the job and country you apply to. It’s necessary to help overseas-based employers understand immediately that there is no cultural divide and that you are a candidate fit for the international work environment. Regardless of the customs you may be used to in the U.S., if you’re applying to jobs overseas it is necessary to follow their customs. An effectively written international resume is the starting point to making the right impression with overseas-based employers.