Around the world, job hunters summarize their experience for prospective employers. However, the cultural differences between countries can lead to confusion, especially if you’re looking for work in a new country. So what are some resume tips for looking for work in the U.S. specifically?
PondLeap and our partners at The Lattice Group have pulled together a quick guide to resume writing in the United States. These resume tips can be helpful for immigrants, expats and foreigners when looking for employment.
What is a resume?
First thing first, what is a resume? In many countries, the term resume and curriculum vitae (CV) can be used interchangeably. However, in the U.S. most employers are looking for a resume. A C.V. in the United States is an extensive document and is used more specifically for academia.
What is the purpose of a resume?
Next, let’s talk about the purpose of a resume in the U.S. In the United States, a resume is your first impression. A potential employer looks at a resume to determine if they want to give you an opportunity to interview. This is your first chance to sell yourself.
U.S. employers are used to seeing a person talk about their strengths and accomplishments in previous roles and are looking for actions and strong adjectives that will help them understand the work you’ve done and how it might be a good fit for the role. Time to humble brag!
What should be included?
The U.S. has very strict laws on discriminating against a person for being a member of certain groups. This is why you will find that most personal information is excluded from resumes. In some countries it may be common practice to include a photo, but in the U.S. this is not recommended. Your resume should include relevant information about your experience, especially experience that is directly related to the job you are applying for. Below are a few resume tips for your standard format. Typically a resume will include:
- Full Name
- Contact Information – this will typically include your email address, phone number and sometimes a local address
- Work Experience – should be in chronological order, with the most recent at the top
- No need to include internships or experience pre-college if it is not relevant to the job for which you are applying
- Education – where were you educated and what level of education have you achieved? It is customary to include the highest level of education along with and/or your college education.
- Volunteer / Skills / Interests – this is where you can supplement the information with a little spice! Add in any volunteer or charity involvement, your extracurriculars, and any additional skills that you have that may be relevant to the role. Additionally, this allows employers to find a way to connect with candidates and this can be a way for them to get to know you. Take time to consider what these skills and interests say to a potential employer and what message you are trying to send.
What should it look like?
Resume aesthetics are important. Every applicant wants to stand out, but employers are moving through resumes quickly and it’s easiest for them when they know what to expect and where to look. When you’re creating your resume you want to make sure that you can guide them to what they want quickly and easily to make sure they take the time to understand why you’re their perfect candidate. Here’s a resume few tips for aesthetics, format and flow:
- Get the order right. It’s important that the hiring manager can see what they need quickly and easily. The most important thing on your resume is your experience. While there are exceptions, the typical flow of a resume in the U.S. should be:
- Work Experience
- Exclude the summary. Hiring managers scan quickly, and bullets help them do this. Their eyes will go to the bullet points first, so skip the summary at the top. Unless you are a seasoned executive, your well-written experience will tell them everything they need to know.
- Align the dates. Make sure that the dates are aligned and clearly visible. For ease of reading, it helps to align these to the right.
- Be consistent. You can use multiple fonts and change the size of italics to draw attention to certain things, but make sure that you use these changes consistently throughout the resume. For example, if you have decided to bold a company name, make sure that all company names are formatted the same way.
- Check the length. It is common in the U.S. to have a resume that fits on one page. If you have more than 10 years of work experience, two pages is also acceptable. When looking at the page break, make sure that nothing is getting cut off, the break should look intentional.
Finally, take your resume into your own hands. Don’t forget to check and double check that everything looks, reads, and feels right to you. Remember, this is the first impression and your first chance to sell yourself to a potential employer. Don’t sell yourself short!
The Lattice Group
Kelly Hansen at The Lattice Group has over 10 years of experience partnering with professionals and companies alike to find the perfect match for their needs and growth. With a personalized approach, she can help you tailor your resume to make a great first impression and guide you along the way as you pursue your next role. Find out more at The Lattice Group Partner page, or schedule a consultation now.
Resources – Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) in the U.S.