US Resume vs. International CV: Break Through Doors with the Right Tools – Part 2


In Part I of this two-part article, I touched upon some differences between US resumes and international curriculum vitae (CVs). If you’ll recall, I wrote about how British, Irish, mainland Europeans, and a multitude of international professionals apply the term CV broadly to what the US, Canada, and several other countries differentiate as resumes.

To make things more difficult, some of these countries use CVs and resumes interchangeably, depending on the job sector, and with varying lengths. This rings true for Australia, South Africa, and India, where private sector jobs are targeted with resumes and public service positions would require applicants to submit CVs. To add another level of complexity to the mix, Australian resumes, much like European CVs, are customarily acceptable in longer, more detailed formats than traditional, brevity-driven US resume lengths.

Now, if you’re targeting specific countries or companies (i.e., non-US / non-Canadian / non-multinational companies) in your job search, applicants should also be aware of country style nuances that dictate the use of either bolder (US) or more reserved (UK) language, country-specific spelling preferences (e.g., American English vs. British English), as well as document sizes (US Letter vs. A4 format).

Job seekers will find that some countries, Germany for example, have very distinct, complex criteria for job applications. Here, candidates are required to submit a comprehensive application package (Bewerbungsmappe) with up to 20+ pages of career documents and supporting information including a CV with photo, cover letter, copies of academic grade lists and qualification certificates, previous work samples, and reference letters. On a German CV (Lebenslauf), the entire career history is strictly accounted for, even times of unemployment, with months and years listed. Education should also be appropriately translated into a “Statement of Comparability” by a professional service providing information on how qualifications translate within the country’s qualification framework.

Now, US job applicants may be saying, “In this exciting era of globalization and warp-speed human connectivity, gaps in international business protocol are rapidly closing in, aren’t they? So does it really matter how I submit a job application?” Yes, that’s true; we are all contributing to the global economy and trends are constantly changing. For instance, in the Singapore market the trend seems to be moving toward American spelling and resume formats versus CV formats using British English.

However, if candidates really want to be taken seriously when targeting jobs outside the US or Canada or at non-multinational companies, it is still an absolute priority to appropriately consider and respect national differences when going through the application process. Taking notice of these subtleties lets employers know that if an applicant is the type of person willing to go above and beyond on a job search campaign, then so will she be on the job as well. It also demonstrates a deep interest in learning about a country’s culture and speaks volumes on how the applicant is willing to adapt to new surroundings and people.

In the end, both US resumes and international CVs have the same purpose—specifically to showcase a candidate’s job suitability, talents, credentials, and achievements to a hiring official, HR manager, or recruiter as quickly and accurately as possible. It simply requires tailoring these marketing materials to a different, international audience. To help applicants keep a finger on the pulse of the latest international hiring trends and organizations, a good online resource would be Expat Jobmarket.com: The Insider’s Guide to the Expatriate Job Market (http://bit.ly/QetlT9). Internations.org (http://bit.ly/R8prfX), a worldwide expatriate community, can also help international job seekers get connected with people in a target job market.

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