As you move forward in your job search process it is important to thoughtfully develop your application materials. If you are applying for jobs within the U.S., your resume should articulate some of the skills you learned while abroad. If you are applying for a job overseas, your application materials should be tailored to the job, country and culture. Click on the links below to find out more.
Resume vs. Curriculum Vitae
Cover Letter vs. Letter of Interest
Resume vs. Curriculum Vitae
Vitas and resumes both have similar purposes -- as marketing documents that provide key information about your skills, experiences, education, and personal qualities that show you as the ideal candidate. Where a resume and a curriculum vitae differ is their use, format, and length. This article will help with your writing and preparing your vita.
A curriculum vitae -- often called a CV or vita -- tends to be used more for scientific and teaching positions than a resume. Thus, vitas tend to provide great detail about academic and research experiences. Where resumes tend toward brevity, vitas lean toward completeness.
Listed below are some general tips for your resume and CV. For more specific information, visit Career Services.
Whatever you decide to do next, don't forget to include your learning abroad experience on your résumé. Education abroad can lead to the beginning of intercultural competence that is appealing to potential employers and graduate schools alike in our increasingly interdependent society. When adding learning abroad to your résumé, think about the skills you gained and what you learned while abroad. Did you become proficient in a language? Did you gain research experience through conducting an independent study project? Have you become well-versed in some aspect of your host country's culture? Remember that you must make the connection to the actual skills you gained through the experience you had - it won't always be obvious to an employer.
So, how do you get these skills across on a résumé? Here are a few examples:
SNAPSHOT 1: You can include your study abroad experience as part of your education including those skills relevant to your academic experience.
Oregon State University Corvallis, OR
- Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, June 2006
- GPA 3.57/4.0, Deans List 2004-05
- Thesis topic: Black consciousness in Venezuela
University of Alcalá Alcalá Spain
- Study Abroad January 2004-June 2004
- Completed course in Spanish culture and society.
- Gained fluency in Spanish
- Examined the effect of birth control on population growth in Spain as an independent research project.
SNAPSHOT 2: You can include your study abroad experience as part of your related experience including those skills gained through your time abroad.
Rainbow MarketMinneapolis, MN Night Manager
- Managed 5 employees through assigning workstations, supervising performance and assuming responsibility for the restaurant.
- Responsible for making nightly cash deposit
- Oversaw nightly closing procedures and preparation for following day's opening.
University of Alcalá Alcalá Spain Study Abroad
Jan. 2004 - June 2004
- Learned to establish rapport quickly with individuals in an unfamiliar environment
- Demonstrated willingness to take risks through enrollment in Spanish-speaking curriculum.
- Successfully completed independent research project despite linguistic and cultural barriers.
- Adapted to new environments.
You may also decide to list study abroad twice - under both education and experience. The choice is yours.
Click here to view a full Resume example.
Wondering what other skills students gain through studying abroad? Some other possible outcomes of an international experience may include:
- Establish rapport quickly
- Function with a high level of ambiguity
- Achieve goals despite obstacles
- Take initiative and take risks
- Time management skills
- Accept responsibility
- Communicate despite barriers
- Learn quickly
- Handle difficult situations
- Handle stress
- Adapt to new environments
- High energy level / enthusiasm
- Appreciation of diversity
- Tolerance / open mindedness
- Learn through listening and observing
Adapted from Tips for Creating a Global Resume or CV by Mary Anne Thompson and Preparing a Curriculum Vitae: Proven Success Strategies by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Find out what is appropriate vis-a-vis the corporate culture, the country culture, and the culture of the person making the hiring decision. The challenge will be to incorporate several different cultures into one document.
Typical vita categories or headings may include some or all of the following:
- Personal/Contact Information
- Phone number(s)
- Marital status, age, health?
- Academic Background
- Postgraduate work
- Graduate work/degree(s), major/minors, thesis/dissertation titles, honors
- Undergraduate degree(s), majors/minors, honors
- Professional Licenses/Certifications
- Academic/Teaching Experience
- Courses taught, courses introduced
- Innovation in teaching
- Teaching evaluations
- Technical and Specialized Skills
- Related/ Experience
- Professional/Academic Honors and Awards
- Professional Development
- Conferences/workshops attended, other activities
- Research/Scholarly Activities
- Conference proceedings
- Academic/Research Interests
- Foreign Language Abilities/Skills
- Volunteer Work
Some general advice:
- A CV is typically a lengthier version of a resume
- Whereas personal information such as, marital status, age, and health are never put on an American resume, it is not unusual for employers from other countries to want and expect this information. They want to know more about you than just your job-related skills
- Do not attach photographs to resumes in the United States; the employer will dispose of it. In many other countries, it is standard procedure to attach a photo or have your photo printed on your CV.
- Some countries require original copies of transcripts and references to be attached to your application.
- Education requirements differ from country to country. In almost every case of "cross-border" job hunting, stating the title of your degree will not be an adequate description. The reader might not have a clear understanding of what you studied or for how many years (i.e., in some countries, a university degree can be obtained in three years and in other countries it takes five years to receive a degree).
- If you find no specific guidelines, the general preference is that a resume/CV be written in a reverse-chronological format.
- The level of computer technology and accessibility to the Internet varies country to country. Even if a company or individual lists an e-mail address, there is no guarantee that they actually receive your e-mail. Send a hard copy of your resume/CV via "snail mail" just to make sure that it is received.
- The safest way to ensure that your resume is "culturally correct" is to review as many examples as possible. Ask the employer or recruiter for examples of resumes that they thought were particularly good.
- If you are submitting your resume in English, find out if the recipient uses "British" English or "American" English. There are variations between the two versions. A reader who is unfamiliar with the variations may presume that your resume contains typos. Most European companies use "British" English though most United States companies-no matter where they are based in the world-use "American" English.
- Most multinational companies will expect you to speak the languages of their country and English, which is widely accepted today as being the universal language of business. Have your resume/CV drafted in both languages and be prepared for your interview to be conducted in both languages. Most companies want to "see" and "hear" actual proof of your language skills.
- If you can, ask someone who is a native speaker of the language in which your resume/CV is written to review your document. Resumes/CV's written by non-native language speakers tend to include terms, though correct in the exact translation, are not used on an every day basis. One goal of your resume/CV is to show your familiarity with the culture by using culturally-appropriate language. For example, several foreign resumes/CVs submitted to U.S. employers describe university/college education as "tertiary" education. Although "tertiary" is literally correct, it is a term that is almost never used in the United States.
- Be aware that paper sizes are different dimensions in different countries. The United States standard is 8½ x 11 inches whereas the European A-4 standard is 210 x 297 mm. When you are transmitting your resume/CV via e-mail, go to "page setup" on your computer and reformat your document to the recipient's standard. Otherwise, when they print it out on their end, half of your material will be missing! The same is true for sending a fax. If at all possible, purchase stationery that has the same dimensions as the recipient's and mail/fax your resume on that stationery.
Click here to view CV Example 1
Click here to view CV Example 2
Best Resumes and CVs for International Jobs:Your passport to the Global Job Market by Ronald L. Krannich, Wendy S. Enelow
The Global Resume and CV Guide by Mary Anne Thompson
JobWeb: Country specific CV guides for Canada, Japan, Spain, UK, France by Mary Anne Thompson
Oregon State University Career Services
Cover Letters and Letters of Interest
Cover Letters are often called Letters of Interest in other countries. Both should be one page in length and articulate your skills and experiences as related to the position you are applying for. The format is as follows:
Your Contact Information
Employer's Contact Information
Introductory Paragraph- State the position you are applying for and indicate how you learned of the position.
Body of Letter- One or more paragraphs connecting your skills to the employer's needs. Highlight your skills and experiences and how they make you a good candidate for the position.
Conclusion- Be polite and enthusiastic. Indicate the next step (if you will call to make sure they received your resume or to set up an interview.)
- Use vocabulary of your field or industry
- Address the letter to a specific person if possible
- If applying overseas, compose the letter in country's native language
Click here to view Cover Letter Example 1
Click here to view Cover Letter Example 2
Education Abroad and the Interview
A few questions to stimulate your self-reflection and prepare you to answer questions about your study abroad experience:
1. Share an example of how you had to set priorities to achieve a desired outcome in your learning abroad experience.
2. How did your learning abroad experience enhance your knowledge, skills and understanding of your intended career field? What assets might international experiences yield for you as opposed to someone who studied domestically?
3. Share an example of a travel situation that helped you build your understanding of human motivation. How did this enhance your understanding of leadership or teamwork?
4. Share an example of how your international experience has improved your skills in communicating with others. How might this make you a better professional in your field?
5. How did you have to adjust or adapt to your new cultural surroundings? Share examples from academic, social and work settings. How did this influence your ability to interact successfully with others?
6. Share an international experience in which you had to resolve a conflict or solve a problem. What skills and personal qualities did you tap into? How did the experience help you grow as a person?
7. Share an example of a learning abroad experience in which you took initiative to achieve a greater result.
8. Share an example of a time when you may have been in danger or afraid. What did you learn from it? Why?
9. What was the most significant thing you learned about yourself through your learning abroad experience? Why?
Linda Gross, Ph.D. Michigan State University, 2003