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Marketing Yourself- International Students

Curriculum Vitaes (CVs) vs. Resumes

Many countries outside the U.S. refer to the document used to show employers your work and educational background as a Curriculum Vitae (CV). In the U.S. this document is called a resume.  The terms CV and resume generally mean the same thing. Specifically, in the U.S. CVs are typically much longer than resumes and are commonly used with students either pursuing or possessing a Master's degree/PhD, and for those seeking positions within Higher Education.  The new graduate from a U.S. university will leave college with a one-page resume. International CVs may also be more personal than a typical U.S. CV or resume; including date of birth and marital status. This information should not be included on a U.S. CV or resume. It is illegal in the U.S. for a potential employer to ask about your personal life. Also, do not include any photographs of yourself with U.S. job applications. (Source: The Global Resume and CV Guide (2000). New York, NY:  John Wiley & Sons, Inc., p. 1)

During your job or internship search most U.S. employers will ask for a resume as a way to apply for the position opening. Compared to one you might use at home, a U.S. resume may be terser, yet include more phrases in which you "sell" your skills and experience.

Tips to "Selling" Yourself on Your Resume

  • Use a variety of strong action verbs to describe the experiences you have had in the past (e.g. Coordinated, Organized, Led)
  • Avoid any statements that could be perceived as weak or negative (e.g. I don't really have experience doing this, but I could learn)
  • Include awards you have won for academics, work, or campus/community involvements
  • Be specific with your language skills and your experience with different cultures

Cover Letters

Another component of most U.S. job or internship applications is a cover letter. This should accompany your resume and have the same heading or letterhead as your resume.

U.S. cover letters will generally be more informal, with fewer polite formal phrases, and will be directed more specifically to each employer. Create a new letter for each job or internship you are applying for and include only information that is relevant to what the employer is seeking in a candidate.

Ways to Improve English Language Ability and Confidence

For International Students without English as their native language, strong communication skills are essential for prospective employees. Employers are sometimes concerned international students will not be able to effectively communicate with customers and other personnel.

  • Demonstrate that you are proficient in speaking and writing proper English
  • Emphasize that you are bi-lingual or multi-lingual, a big bonus for many multi-national companies
  • Practice your language skills through class discussions, presentations, and club meetings

Your Unique Strengths and Strong Selling Points

International Students offer employers the following strengths, attributes and skills that may set you apart from your competition:

  • Multi-Language ability, awareness and experience living in other cultures and countries
  • Adaptability and flexibility in adjusting to difficulties and challenges
  • Strong work ethic and motivation
  • Bold and can make independent decisions
  • Willing to relocate to anywhere in the US