Effective Resume Writing for Expat Job Opportunities

Effective Resume Writing for Expat Jobs

Thinking about working abroad, but don’t know what to put on your resume or how to format it properly? Don’t worry because you are in good company. Most prospective first-time expat are in the dark when it comes to writing an effective resume or curriculum vitae that will get them noticed and ultimately get them an offer letter.

I felt the same way before my first expat experience. I remember scavenging the internet for tips, suggestions, and examples of expat resumes to get insight on how to write a job-getting CV. I learned a great deal from watching videos, reading blog posts, and even reaching out to some people in the expat community. Fortunately, my efforts paid off.

I have learned a lot since then, especially through having the opportunity to serve on hiring committees whose main goal was to recruit expat workers. So I decided to share a few tricks of the trade for those who are interested in writing an effective resume to land an expat position.

Clarity and Breadth

The first thing I recommend is ensuring that your resume or CV is clear. The hiring organization or hiring manager should not have to guess what type of job you did, where you worked, or how long you worked there. This should go without saying because this is a general rule for resume writing. However, it becomes even more important when you are trying to capture the attention of someone who may not have any experience or knowledge of how things work in your home country.

Don’t assume that just because you put that you were a teacher in your home country that the hiring manager understands what your job entailed. Yes, the basic foundation of teaching is generally applicable worldwide. However, there are many different teaching curricula and different teacher qualifications even within the same country. Therefore, you should spell this out clearly on your resume or CV.

For instance, all of your experience may be in the U.S. so you assume that the hiring manager knows that your experience is in American-style teaching curriculum. However, there are international schools in the U.S. and the names of the schools are not always indicative of the type of curricula that is taught in the school. Therefore, it is incumbent upon you to note what type of curriculum you have experience with in order to advance your chances of being hiring.

Another important factor is the breadth of information. You need to include additional information about where you worked or gained your education and credentials on your resume. It is essential to include the country information on your CV even if your education and experience are from the same country.

Everyone is not familiar with the cities and states in your home country – this includes the U.S. Thus, stating you worked in Omaha, Nebraska doesn’t tell a hiring manager from Victoria, Seychelles much about your international experience even if you list your nationality as American on your resume. Including country information gives the employer context about your level of international experience.

The same guidelines apply to outlining your job duties. Potential expats usually need to add depth to this section to give the employer a more comprehensive understanding of their knowledge, skills, and abilities. I typically suggest job candidates include about 3-5 bullet points under each job, especially if they work in a generalist role. However, I usually suggest that international job seekers include about 8-10 job duties and tasks that provide substantial context and detail.

Few hiring managers or committees are going to take the effort to interview you if the information you provide on your resume is not clear or detailed enough. It is not uncommon for hiring managers to receive hundreds of applications for one post seeking multiple candidates. So the resumes that are clear and have depth of information will usually get shortlisted first.

Demographic Details

International employers may also ask for more demographic details about prospective candidates than what is typical or legal to ask for in some countries. This is inclusive of a candidate’s age, date of birth, marital status, religion, etc. It is common practice to ask for this type of information in some expat countries.

Asking for such demographic data is not illegal in every country. Therefore, you need to be prepared to provide this information if you are vying to get an expat job offer in certain regions of the world. Failure to provide such details may disqualify you for the role. So think twice about neglecting to provide it on your resume or skipping these questions on a job application.

International Experience

Another important aspect of an expat resume is the inclusion of any international experience that may have been gained in the past. This is not necessarily exclusive to paid positions that you have held in other countries. It could be study or volunteer abroad activities that you performed in the past. Oftentimes evidence of immersive experiences abroad (excluding vacations) is a plus on expat resumes.

International employers who frequently hire expats like to see that prospective expats have substantive international exposure, though this is not a requirement for the average expat position. As I mentioned in my previous post, expat employers want to ensure that you are not going to bail as soon as you experience a little conflict or trivial difficulties. Someone with a proven track record of satisfying the components involved in working, studying, and/or volunteering abroad is usually an asset to an expat employer.

So if you have immersive international exposure, you should include it on your resume or CV. Doing so will most likely increase your chances of securing an expat position.

However, there is a caveat to this general guideline. Some international employers do not accept expat workers who have lived in or visited certain countries that are dealing with civil unrest or countries whose residents are banned from entering the nation. This caveat can be a bit tricky so you will definitely need to do your research before providing all work, study, and volunteer abroad experiences on your resume.

This can easily be done by conducting an internet search to determine the allies and enemies of your expat country of choice. If a nation that you have worked, studied, or volunteered in is on their enemy list I suggest leaving that experience off of your resume. The same applies to countries that are experiencing major civil unrest that could be a threat to the expat nation in which you work.

Not having an immersive international experience doesn’t necessarily exclude you from being a viable expat candidate. So don’t feel that you are out of the game if you don’t have international exposure and are seeking expat employment. Though I will suggest that you try to gain international exposure by either studying or volunteering abroad. These are great ways to “get your feet wet”.

Not only will such opportunities possibly enhance your chances of securing expat employment opportunities, but they will also give you a chance to test the waters. Such experiences give you the chance to see if living abroad is really for you before you embark on a more extensive journey that could involve uprooting your entire life.

22 thoughts on “Effective Resume Writing for Expat Job Opportunities

  1. Good effective skills and criteria for a job application. Clarity, transparency and international qualifications are huge assets for finding employment. Resumes should also be up to date and maybe modified depending on the position.

  2. Thank you for the guidelines. This will surely help me create an attractive resume.

  3. A resume does not do much in my opinion but it sets you up for a good impression. That said having a good one is handy but come in the work place attitude matters more for me. Then again resumes are part of the basic steps that one must learn.

    1. Very interesting comment. For a surety a resume is simply a document in which one can add any information. However, it does serve the purpose of providing profile of an individual’s experience and skills.

  4. Wow, thank you so much for this.I have been trying for so long to find a job outside my country. I have gathered 10 years of professional experiences. I will be surely using this from now on.

  5. Very helpful tips, especially the clarity and breath one. It’s hard for many expats to dial with what to writte in their resume .

  6. Thank you for these tips and enlightening me. I’m updating my resume. Always over deliver and not over promise on your resume. It represents you.

  7. You included all information in one piece. I read keenly all what you wrote and now have a clue to write a professional CV or Resume, and more so for international jobs. Thanks for sharing and keep us posted.

  8. Thanks for sharing such wonderful tips. I carefully went through all your words and now I have an idea to write a professional resume.

  9. Everyone will surely experience this process when they want to start working for the first time. Even people who have work experience will return to this process when they want to move from their previous jobs. So for me, this is a very useful article!

  10. Thanks for compressing this vast knowledge of how to write an expat resume. You have saved me a ton of research.

  11. A CV is the first impression that a potential employer gets of us. As such it’s very important that we capture the employer’s attention through it.

  12. I’ve realized I have so many mistakes in my Resume after reading this. I’m just glad I read it in time.

  13. Indeed an expat resume is much different from a local one. These are some important details you point out and I will incorporate them into my resume

  14. “Few hiring managers or committees are going to take the effort to interview you if the information you provide on your resume is not clear or detailed enough.” That right there is a very vital fact. Thank you for the informative piece.

  15. I’m happy with what you cover under demographic details. It’s true that laws regarding sharing personal information vary from country to country so it’s wise to be flexible regardless of what the laws are in your home country.

  16. One of the easiest ways to gain international exposure is by either studying or volunteering abroad. This is especially true since securing international employment is not so easy without some kind of international exposure.

  17. My CV lacks greatly in the sector of international experience. I hope this doesn’t totally rule me out from international opportunities.

  18. I agree with you on the fact that when making an international Resume as much details as possible should be included. Nothing should be left to chance.

  19. Your article is very helpful especially since you have a lot of international experience yourself. I will take your words to heart.

  20. I have been all over the internet looking for tips on how to write the perfect CV. Luckily my search ends here.

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