How To Write Your Resume and Market Yourself for an International Assignment
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you dream about working abroad? Do your short or long-term
career goals include an international assignment? Maybe
you want to practice your ability to speak multiple languages.
Perhaps you completed coursework or a degree in international
business. Or maybe you just want to broaden your corporate
qualifications with a more global perspective and multicultural
With an increasingly diverse workforce and global economy,
international business experience -- whether that involves
frequent international business trips, short-term overseas
assignments, or longer-term relocation to foreign locations
-- can certainly be valuable as a building block for your
With more and more multinational firms transferring employees
between global locations, your chances of winning a coveted
overseas assignment have never been better. But, how do
you market yourself for these positions?
As with most job searches, one of your first steps will
be to develop your portfolio of personal marketing documents.
In other words, you must prepare your resume/CV and job
search letters. Do the terms resume and CV (curriculum vitae)
The first thing to understand is that different countries
use different terms to describe what is essentially the
same type of document. In fact, in international circles,
the terms "resume" and "CV" are often used interchangeably.
But, to complicate the issue, depending on the country you
are applying to, the requirements of what to include in
your resume/CV and in what format to include it may be very
For example, in the U.S. you should never include a photograph
of yourself in your resume (unless you are a model or an
actor/actress). Likewise, you should not include any information
about your birthday, marital status, family status, or other
similar personal details. In fact, if you do include photos
or personal data, most U.S. employers will simply discard
your resume rather than risk a potential discrimination
lawsuit. On the other hand, personal photographs and data
are expected and often required on CVs meant for European
or Asian employers.
In U.S., Canadian, and some other job markets your work
experience should be included in reverse chronological order
(most recent to oldest). In many other job markets around
the world, your experience should be listed in straight
chronological order (oldest to most recent).
Clearly, it is crucial that you be aware of the requirements
and expectations of the job market you are applying in.
You must take the time to research and learn these differences
before preparing or adapting your resume for international
In some cases, when you are applying to the overseas location
of a multinational company, the decision-makers for the
position will be of a nationality other than the location
in which you are applying. For example, you may be targeting
a position in Hong Kong, and know that the person making
the decisions for that position is an American expatriate.
In this case, you may want to submit a resume written in
the U.S. style which will be more familiar to the decision-maker.
Our expertise is in creating resumes in the U.S. style.
However, our client base is worldwide and our resumes have
been used successfully by people all over the globe seeking
international assignments based in the U.S. or targeting
positions worldwide when they have determined that the U.S.-style
is most appropriate. The lesson: do your research and know
your audience, then tailor your approach to the expectations
of the audience.
Regardless of the job you are targeting, and what country
that job is in, if your goal is to go global you definitely
want to emphasize and highlight your international travel
and multicultural experiences, your foreign language abilities,
and any coursework you have completed that is relevant to
international business. You can weave all of this into the
body of your resume/CV and may even create a separate section
to call it out in greater detail.
Finally, above all, be open-minded and flexible. Your eagerness
to learn and your adaptability are key predictors of how
successful you will be on international assignment. So,
don't be afraid to ask questions and adapt to new ways of
doing things. Your international job search is not the time
to hold tight to your own cultural preferences. Be flexible!
If you don't know what is expected or required of job candidates
in a particular company or foreign location, ask! Then adapt
Here is a checklist to help you prepare your international
career marketing portfolio:
- The content and format of my resume/CV has been modified
to conform to the requirements of the international job
market I am targeting.
- The content and format of my resume/CV has been modified
to conform to the expectations of the decision-maker for
the position I am targeting.
- I have paid particular attention to requirements regarding
photographs and personal data and have adapted my resume/CV
- My resume/CV has been translated into another language
if necessary and has been reviewed by a native speaker of
- My resume/CV emphasizes and includes information about
all of my previous multicultural and international business
experience and qualifications.
- My resume includes a thorough listing of my foreign language
- My resume/CV includes detailed descriptions of my education
and training (educational requirements and degrees vary
around the world, so it is often helpful to describe your
degrees in terms of their local equivalent).
- The design of my resume/CV had been modified to fit on
the paper size that is the standard in the international
location I am applying in.
- My resume/CV has been proofed and is completely free of
- My resume/CV uses simple fonts and a classic, easy-to-read
- The electronic files of my resume/CV are prepared in standard
formats, including Microsoft Word, Adobe PDF, and plain
- I have researched and scrupulously followed any guidelines
for submission of my resume/CV as described by the company
I am applying to.
- I have sent my resume/CV and job search letter by email
when an email address is available, but have followed up
with a hard copy by regular postal mail.
Nationally certified resume
writer and career
marketing expert, Michelle Dumas
is the director of Distinctive Career Services LLC. Through
Distinctive Documents http://www.distinctiveweb.com and her
Executive VIP Services http://www.100kcareermarketing.com
Michelle has empowered thousands of professionals all across
the U.S. and worldwide. Michelle is also the author of 101
Before-and-After Resume Examples http://www.before-and-after-resumes.com
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