Foreign Students in US: Resume Tips

Learn English! Become a citizen! Go to school! Make new friends! Get a job! The amount of paperwork and demands launched at an international student from school and other institutions while adapting to culture shock can make the mind feel like a whirlwind– shifting and spinning at high speeds while the rest of the world seems to be on sturdy foundation. Rest assured- there is a solid leverage to help you gain a foothold in your field of study.

After being yanked in various directions– sign this ↓ , read that ↖ , fill this out ↔ – there is one more piece of paper that requires the utmost attention. A résumé, just a word at first, a funny looking word at that, fancy for: (1) a short document describing your education, work history, etc., that you give an employer when you are applying for a job, (2) a list of achievements, (3) a short description of things that have happened – kindly defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary online.

A résumé is recommended and required by most employers in the US. For a multi-faceted, culturally enriched international student who is filled to the brim with life experiences, what is appropriate to include in a résumé?

Well let’s back up. A résumé is a neatly compiled timeline of work, school, and volunteer experiences and achievements with a focus on relevant skills for the job you're applying for, not just a “short description of things that have happened.” A lot has happened, and not everything is going to be relevant for the job you want. The following steps will help to navigate through the storm and confusion of conducting a résumé:

  1. Clearly define the type of job you want to obtain and research the kind of skills employers are looking for in their potential candidates. There are keywords located in job descriptions that convey the skills that are required.
  2. Granted that you have some experience for the job you chose, incorporate those valuable keywords into your résumé. (It is crucial that you tell the truth about what skills you have, an employer WILL be able to sniff out BS)
  3. The area in which the most experience was earned goes toward the top. (Education, Jobs, Accomplishments, etc.)
  4. Underneath each area or section, list the jobs or organizations you participated in (in order of job relevance but also chronologically) and describe the duties/skills gained from each. This doesn’t have to be all-inclusive of “things that have happened,” only the ones that speak to your target job.

It is important to remember that creating a résumé is an on-going process, needing modification for each new job application and new experiences gained. The steps given in this article only begin to show what is needed in a résumé. For more steps, visit International Student.

Photo Credit: COD Newsroom

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