Your dream job awaits — it just might be in another country.

Let's say that one day you woke up and decided that you were interested in moving to another country. Perhaps it was one of those whimsical notions that flitted across your mind, but  after a while it was a thought that became resolute. No matter how it happened, you are ready to get up and go. 

Wait one second: You can't simply sell all of your stuff and go to the airport; a well thought out plan of attack for this move involves a modicum of research. According to, finding work, filling out Visas, and embracing a new culture are just a few things on your new to-do list. 

First things first — find a job

You will need money once you get settled into your new location, and the best way to get money is with a job. This means you need a great resume or CV, depending. Not only are you competing with residents in your new country, but you'll also be competing with other international applicants. Having the right document formatted in the proper manner can make all the difference between employment and ending up in the rejection pile. 

There are some hard and fast rules when it comes to determining whether to use a resume or CV, with some countries requiring a resume while others require a CV. No matter which document you're writing, most of the information will be the same as far as your experience and education goes, while other information will need to be worded differently. 

You may have to add information that wouldn't normally be included in a U.S. resume at all. For example, you'd want to include:

  • Nationality

  • Visa status

  • Language abilities

While a CV is usually a different type of document used for the same purpose as a resume, the terms can be used interchangeably — but there are differences to note. Also, a CV outside the U.S. is different from a CV inside the U.S., with companies here wanting a CV for academic or scientific jobs and companies abroad preferring a CV even for regular positions. 

What is the difference between a resume and a CV?

Resume comes from the French word for “summary,” and Leonardo DaVinci is credited with using the first resume ever. 

A resume is a one or two-page document that highlights your career achievements that is written in a professional tone and uses powerful, accomplishment-based statements. Additionally, the resume is usually full of keywords taken from job description and aligned with the values and traits that the employer is looking for. 

Curriculum vitae comes from the Latin word for “the course of one's life.” A CV is quite a bit longer than a resume, with some CVs reaching six or seven pages depending on the applicant's background, experience, and education. A good point of reference is to remember that an international CV can be compared to a U.S. federal resume

The layout is different between a U.S. resume and an international CV 

The U.S. resume layout 

  • Name

  • Contact information

  • Title

  • Professional Summary

  • Skills

  • Experience (usually in reverse-chronological order)

  • Education

  • Awards, Affiliations, and Volunteerism

The International CV

  • Name 

  • Contact information

  • Professional Summary 

  • Academic qualifications (including relevant courses studied, GPA, papers written, and studies performed)

  • Additional training 

  • Skills

  • Languages

  • Software tools 

  • Experience 

  • Achievements

  • Awards and Honors

  • A declaration ("All information is true...")

  • References

Which one should you use and where?

A traditional resume is used in the United States, Australia, and Canada, and a lot of the reason these countries favor this document has to do with discrimination laws. A CV contains too much biographical data that relays personal information. If you were to use a CV to apply to a job in these countries, it could be tossed if it contained information that violated those laws. 

CVs are used pretty much everywhere else including the U.K., New Zealand, Asia, and the European Union. Hiring managers around the globe want to have an overall picture of your entire background, and a CV provides a clear snapshot of your skills and accomplishments, including professional, academic, research, and awards. 

Breakdown by country

how resumes differ from country to country

United States

A resume in the U.S. is a targeted marketing document that is customized to a particular job, company, or industry. Employers want to see achievement-based statements and how you'll benefit their team. 

South Africa

Companies in South Africa need to be able to verify a job candidate's BEE/affirmative action status. Therefore, it is required that you provide your ID number and ethnicity.

Australia and the U.K.

Inject as much personality as you can into your CV. Companies in these two countries like to see achievement-based statements and power verbs just like the U.S., while also getting a feel for whether the new hire will fit into their company culture. 

Germany, France, and much of Asia  

It is customary to include a photo on your CV in these countries, with Germany being quite strict. They specify that it must be a passport-style photo. Also, be sure to list out all the languages you speak. 

No matter where you decide to put your roots, it will certainly benefit you to nail down employment. Use this guide to put your best foot forward. 

Knowing whether your resume is ready for an international job search is hard, but we can help with a resume review

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