Writing resumes and cover letters can be difficult. Writing resumes and cover letters for international vacancies, in another language, even more difficult. But we believe that leaving your comfort zone to follow your dream of working abroad will be an incredible experience (and worth all the agony of the selection process). And we’re here to help you get there.
Most job offers start with a good application and all good applications are preceded by research and more research. So, how about starting with our tips for applying for your long-awaited international vacancy?
1. Know your resume and CV
Although the words are used interchangeably in English, a resume and a CV are not the same document. Your CV is a detailed listing of your career, education and accomplishments – it includes (almost) everything you’ve ever done and doesn’t change for different job openings. Now, if a CV were a complete movie about your career, the resume would be a trailer: it’s much shorter – preferably one, never more than two pages – and changes as needed to adapt it to the job you’re applying for. The resume basically just covers the skills and accomplishments that are important for a given job and should give the hiring manager an overview of who you are and what you can bring to the company.
2. Know which one to use
But wait, there’s more: the two documents are also used differently around the world. According to Undercover Recruiter, North Americans generally prefer resumes (unless otherwise requested or you apply for an academic job), while recruiters and employers in the UK, Ireland, Europe and New Zealand generally prefer CVs. For Australians, Indians and South Africans, resumes seem to be preferred in the private sector, while CVs are used for public service positions. To avoid mistakes, try asking a local friend (or even an HR office) what details you need to provide about your academic and professional background.
3. Choose the right language
Write your application in the same language used to advertise the vacancy. You can always add a translated version if the job posting language is not the native language of the country. For example, if you respond to a job posting in English for a vacancy in Germany, you can add a German version of your application , but the priority must be English (if there is no language-specific instruction in the vacancy, clear). You can also have LinkedIn profiles in different languages and send the link instead of another document.
4. Customize, customize, customize
Always tailor your application to the country, job and company you are applying for – if you do your part, your application will be exceptional and nothing important will be left out. Pick the best and most important parts of your resume or cover letter and edit, delete and rearrange each time you apply for a new job.
5. Be upfront about your work permit and foreign language skills
Add your visa status and mention the type of work permit you have. Don’t hide or leave this information out – at some point the recruiter will learn about this information, so save time and be honest about your status. The same goes for foreign language skills: if you’ve indicated that you’re fluent in a language, native speakers will immediately know whether that’s true or not. Do not exaggerate or omit information.
6. Play by the rules of the picture
Adding a professional-looking photo to your resume is not always a good idea: in the US, Canada, UK and Australia you should never upload a photo. In Germany and France, you must add a photo. It’s important to do your research: many applications are eliminated because they don’t follow the rules. This is usually not because you are not photogenic, but for legal reasons – employers don’t want to be accused of discrimination based on appearance. If you’re not sure about the photo, you can always add your LinkedIn profile to your resume – that way, the recruiter has a chance to see your photo.
7. Know the best shortcut for European countries
If you want to work in Europe, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel when applying for jobs: check out Europass, an online tool that will help you get all the information you need to showcase your skills and qualifications in an easy way. And they have several CV and cover letter templates.
8. Attention to small details
When you do your research, pay special attention to details that could kill your application before anyone even has a chance to see it. In Germany, for example, you must sign and end your CV at the bottom. In Japan, you need to fill out (sometimes by hand!) a rirekisho , a Japanese curriculum with very strict rules, or a shokumu keirekisho, which shows your work experience. In many European countries, you must share your age (date of birth), marital status, and even how many children you have, which is not required in the US (don’t do this!). Other important details that differ from country to country are the inclusion (or omission) of a career objective, references, educational background and the amount of documents you need to provide.