International Resume CV for Students: 18 Tips
How to write a perfect international student resume?
Every year, America’s leading universities attract thousands of international students. They come to receive a world-class education, and some of them stay to make it in the United States. If you’re one of those students, note that in addition to excellent high school grades and your ambitions you’ll need to make some preparations as well. In particular, you’ll need an up-to-date American resume that is required both as a part of university program application and to apply for local jobs.
However, you’ll want to make sure that your resume adheres to the North American standards of resume writing. And these standards might be different from those in your home country. Today, our creative resume writers share resume tips for job seekers looking to create their first resume.
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Professional resume writing tips for creating an American resume
1. One page is your perfect resume length
As a rule, one page is enough for a student resume. The US universities and employers don’t feel like receiving long and unnecessarily detailed resumes. If you are an experienced manager looking to obtain the MBA, you can extend the resume to two pages. Longer won’t be accepted by the admissions committees.
2. Ask your university for resume samples
Some universities have their own guidelines for writing a resume. Ask them for a template and follow the example. If your target school has no specific requirements, create a general student resume and include all mandatory sections.
3. Keep the formatting neat and professional
American resumes are flexible and allow using color, charts, and graphic elements. However, if you write a resume for university, it’s better to create a plain black-and-white resume with neat formatting and clear structure. Make the resume subheadings visible at a glance and use bullet points to list your awards or job responsibilities.
4. List any work experience you have
Even if you’re just out of high school and haven’t had a full-time job, think of any other experience which might qualify as jobs. If you worked as a waiter, cleaner or babysitter on weekends to earn some cash, do include it in your resume. American employers value all kinds of working experience. If you helped your father with family business, that’s even better – you must have learned many valuable skills that deserve being mentioned on a resume.
5. Show off your skills, achievements and experience
In the American culture, it is acceptable and even encouraged to brag about your skills and accomplishments on a resume. If you had a job relevant to your major, won a prestigious student award in your home country or did sports in high school, don’t be shy to show off your background. These details might make a lot of difference for getting you accepted.
6. Attach a matching cover letter
Your resume should be accompanied by a cover letter which is written especially for a university or a job posting. Use a cover letter to show your motivation for applying and persuade the reader that you make a perfect fit for the program or employment. How you end a cover letter also matters – check out our tips here: https://resumeperk.com/blog/how-to-end-a-letter-10-examples--what-to-avoid.
7. Edit with utmost attention
American employers and committees frown upon typos, grammar errors and poor English in writing. Unprofessional, weak writing can ultimately close doors for you as it shows lack of your attention to detail. After you’ve written a resume, proofread it for several times and run through a spell checker to exclude occasional mistakes. Or, if you are very serious about getting in, hire a native English editor. Our PhD editor can fix all minor and advanced writing mistakes and help you sound like a native speaker.
What to include in your English resume: 11 tips + Infographic
If you are a German, French or Indian student looking to get accepted in the American university, follow the tips below to create a resume according to the American standards. You can use the same structure to write a resume for employment or even to launch freelancing career.
1. Name and contact information
This one is pretty obvious, isn’t it? Your name and contact detail go first in the resume. Avoid putting the word ‘Resume’ at the top of the page. In the US, contact information is restricted to one phone number, permanent local address and an email.
2. Objective and headline
Although this section isn’t mandatory, we strongly recommend that you use it. Add the name of the program you are applying for or the name of the job.
3. Details about your education
In the student resumes Education section goes first. Include the detailed information about the educational background that you already have, including relevant coursework, school or university projects, academic honors and awards. Focus on the information which is most relevant for your target university.
4. Work experience
If you have work experience, both full-time or part-time, don’t just list what your duties were. Focus on the results you’ve delivered for your previous employer and how you exceeded the expectations.
5. All relevant experiences you have
If you have no formal work experience, focus on extracurricular activities, volunteering, student organizations, and more. Be specifically detailed about them if you had a leadership role – universities prefer students who have leadership traits. Briefly outline your responsibilities and contribution at each of these positions.
6. Context for your overseas experience and education
Both universities and employers might not be aware of the most reputable organizations and schools in your home country. So, it’s helpful to provide a frame of reference in your resume. Adding statements as “The #1 technical university in Poland” or “The 2nd biggest bank in France” will add value to your home experience.
7. Skills and language proficiencies
It will do you a lot of good to list all your skills and competencies separately on a resume. As a student, you can list proficiency with software, any hard skills and language proficiency (except for English language).
8. Quantifiable accomplishments
American employers value accomplishments and results in a resume. So, if you had had any specific achievements at work or as a volunteer or leader of student organization, add these accomplishments with figures.
Companies in the US use applicant tracking software that searches for specific words and phrases in candidates’ resumes. When writing a resume for a job, read the job posting and highlight the names of qualifications and skills required – these are most likely keywords. Add them into your resume to pass the automated selection.
If you have a relevant hobby, add this section to your resume as well. Note that such things as cooking, cycling and dancing aren’t good examples unless you have reached good results in them.
11. Reference list
Don’t make references a part of your resume. Add a separate page called ‘References’ and list people who can recommend you, including their name, position, company, phone number, and email. It’s better to use local references or list people who have a good command of English.
If you seek more advice on writing an American resume, read the guide from our writers on writing a resume for high school graduates.
Examples of what to avoid in American resume
Certain things that are necessary to include in a resume in your culture might not be appropriate for North American resumes. Here are the top things you should leave out:
- Such personal information as age, gender, marital status and ethnicity is not included in American resumes. It is assumed that all people have equal rights for university admission or a job.
- Picture – unless you apply for a performance arts specialty or a job, don’t use a picture.
- Salary information, including how much you were paid on the previous positions or your salary expectations. In the US, compensation is discussed during an interview.
- English language as a skill, including level of proficiency or TOEFL score. Since you are applying for an English language university, your English proficiency is assumed.
- First person pronouns. The US resumes are written in the third person without any pronouns.
- Too bright and ‘funny’ formatting. Resume is a professional document and should look accordingly. A bit of color is acceptable, but not when it’s a university application.
A resume should present your strengths and qualifications in a concise way. With the help of the above tips, you’ll find it easier to update your international resume in accordance with the American standards of resume writing. Keep the writing style professional, put your education and professional achievements in focus, and show your perfect English writing skills to impress the admissions committee or the local employer. Speaking about employment, if you are looking for your first job in the US, take a look at how to answer weird interview questions you might be asked.
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