We receive resume and cover letter writing requests from job seekers all over world who are interested in employment in Canada, the US and UK. We have received resumes from job seekers in India, China, Philippines, Germany, Poland, and Russia to name a few. From working with these international customers we observe common mistakes made in their CV’s. While we cannot cover the topic of resume writing, this article includes some common observations and practical resume tips for immigrant and foreign workers interested in applying for work in Canada, the US and the UK.
Spelling, Grammar and Writing Style
It is important to ensure your resume and cover letter does not contain spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. These types of errors can significantly reduce your chances of being considered for a job. In fact, many employers will toss your application if they spot these types of mistakes. For foreign applicants, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are especially damaging since they can lead the employer to conclude that applicant has a poor command of English. It is important to use spell check and grammar tools function in your word processing software before submitting your resume. Another option is to have a professional write it for you or at the very least someone competent to proof your resume. If you prefer to do it yourself, you may enroll in a resume writing course . Many of these courses focus on providing resume templates or resume samples instead of teaching resume writing techniques. While resume templates may be easy to follow the template presented may not be best suited for your particular employment background. For this reason, we advise courses that teach resume writing skills and concepts rather than providing resume templates.
Unlike spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, inappropriate writing style is not so easy to identify. Nonetheless paying attention to writing style can pay huge dividends. Your writing style can signal to the employer that you have paid attention to learning about the local work culture and how professionals communicate within it. For example a cover letter from a foreign applicant that ends with, “I am very excited about this opportunity and would welcome meeting with you to discuss my qualifications in detail. I am available for an interview at your convenience” suggests that the applicant has paid attention to how business professional communicate in North America. On the other hand, a cover letter that ends with, “I would be most respectfully thankful if you would accept my application for your excellent company” would suggest that the applicant has not taken the time to learn the communication styles in the work environment and thus may not fit in so well.
Personal Information Not Related to the Job.
In Canada and the US, Human Rights legislation prohibits hiring discrimination based on grounds such as religion, race, marital status, age, and so on. As such, application forms will not include fields for this type of information and professional interviewers are trained not ask for this type of information in an employment interview. While it may be accepted practice in some countries for job seekers to include such information in their application, it is not accepted practice in some countries such as Canada, US and the UK.
We have received many resumes containing photos and personal information such as religion, marital status, age and so on. While we just advised you not to include a photo or your age, in some situations you may be asked to do so. For example, in some industries like modeling or acting it is common practice as it may be a requirement of the job to cast an individual to play a certain age. The important point here is to know the work culture and environment that you want to become a part of. You want to avoid sending flags to the employer that may suggest that you would not fit in.
Leverage Your Strengths
Foreign applicants frustrated with a lack response need to know that many employers do value foreign experience and knowledge. Companies commonly seek to gain this foreign knowledge by sending their top managers and executives to international offices or by participating in an employment exchange program. While employer may value international experience, it is your responsibility to communicate to the employer how they will benefit from your experience. It is important that you leverage your international experience to your advantage. Perhaps the prospective employer can benefit from your relationships that you have in your native country. Or it can be as simple as your language or knowledge of a specific culture.
In summary, we have observed many common mistakes made in resumes from foreign applicants. Learning how to fit in, while leveraging your differences is the key to success in the employment market. Learning how to fit in doesn’t mean losing your culture. It means learning basic business writing and showing that you can communicate effectively with local professionals. By following the tips above, you will make your resume more “North American” friendly.