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Write a Resume for a Job Abroad in 7 Simple Steps

Updated: Feb 23

Dreaming of combining your ambition and wanderlust by working in another country? A place where you can build a fulfilling career that also offers a chance to absorb a new culture, language, and lifestyle? Well, you're not alone!


Matilda and I have done it... more than once. As expats and career coaches with over 18 years of combined HR experience in 5+ countries, we know that one of the key steps to landing that perfect job abroad is crafting an effective resume.


This isn't your usual resume, though. It's tailored to international opportunities and it shows the universal value you bring to the table. And guess what? We've put together the EXACT step-by-step process that helps you write it. Check it out below.


 

7-Step Resume Guide for a Job Abroad


Writing a resume for a job abroad? Follow this simple 7-step guide to tailor your resume to the local job market and ensure your resume gets you a step closer to your dream of living and working abroad. Here's the overview:

 

#1: Understand the Local Job Market


When searching for jobs abroad, it is crucial to have a solid understanding of the international job market. This knowledge will not only help you identify the right opportunities but also prepare you to meet the demands of the job market in your desired country.


Research the Job Market in Your Desired Country


Start by conducting thorough research on the job market in your desired country. Look for reliable sources of information such as government websites, industry reports, and job portals specific to that country. Pay attention to the current economic conditions, employment trends, and growth sectors.


Understanding the job market will give you insight into the industries that are thriving and the ones that might have limited opportunities. This knowledge will help you tailor your resume and focus on the sectors with higher demand.



Identify the Key Skills and Qualifications in Demand


Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash


Once you have a good grasp of the job market, it's time to identify the key skills and qualifications that are in demand. Look for job descriptions of the roles you are interested in and make note of the common requirements and preferred qualifications.


Consider the specific skills, certifications, and educational background that employers seek in your desired country. For example, some countries may value language proficiency, while others may prioritize technical skills or cross-cultural experience.


By identifying these key skills and qualifications, you can tailor your resume to highlight your strengths and align with the expectations of potential employers in the international job market.

Remember, each country may have its own unique job market dynamics, so it's essential to adapt your resume and job search strategy accordingly to increase your chances of success.


 

#2: Adapt the Formatting and Structure


Creating a well-formatted and structured resume is crucial when applying for jobs abroad.


Follow these guidelines to ensure your resume stands out:


Choose the Right Resume Format


Selecting the appropriate resume format is essential in showcasing your skills and experiences effectively. Consider using a chronological, functional, or combination format depending on your career goals and work history.



Find Out the Expected Resume Length



Paper resume on MacBook, highlighting the need to check local resume length requirements.

Photo by João Ferrão on Unsplash


Determining the ideal resume length varies across countries and regions, and understanding the local preferences can significantly impact your job application. Here are some practical tips to help you tailor your resume length to your target country:

United States and Canada:

These countries generally prefer concise and focused resumes. Ideally, aim for a one-page resume, especially if you're a recent graduate or have less than 10 years of work experience. Highlight key achievements and skills relevant to the job.

Australia and New Zealand:

Resumes in Australia and New Zealand are often around two pages. Highlight your key accomplishments and tailor your resume to match the specific requirements of the job.

Middle East and Asia:

In countries like the UAE or Singapore, a one to two-page resume is generally acceptable. Focus on showcasing your skills, qualifications, and any international experience. Tailor your resume to match the cultural expectations of the specific country.


Europe:

European countries may have varied preferences, but a standard resume length is usually around two pages. Prioritize relevant information and consider including a professional summary to capture the recruiter's attention.


Special mentions:

Germany:

Resumes in Germany often include detailed information. It's common to have a two to three-page resume that provides a comprehensive overview of your education, work experience, and skills. Use a chronological format and include any relevant certifications. (Fun fact: Some industries in Germany prefer what they call "Lebenslauf." Literall translation is "book of life" and it's often a 10+ pages long document with every single detail from your education and work history.)


United Kingdom:

Resumes in the UK can be slightly longer than the U.S. or Canada. Keep it within two pages, focusing on relevant work experience and skills. Use a clear and straightforward format, emphasizing achievements and qualifications.


Use the Local Date Format


When adapting your resume to a specific country, integrating the local date format is a subtle yet essential detail that reflects cultural awareness. For instance:

If you're applying for positions in the United States, use the month-day-year format, such as "January 27, 2024."

In Europe, the day-month-year format is commonly employed, as in "27 January 2024."


Employers appreciate this attention to detail, as it not only conforms to local norms but also helps avoid any confusion. Go beyond the basics: Read the full guide on tailoring a resume to the local job market.


 

#3: Tailor the Language and Tone


Language and tone in your resume matter. By translating your resume to the local language if needed, using action verbs to describe your achievements, and maintaining a professional and positive tone, you can significantly enhance your chances of landing a job abroad.


Tailor Your Resume to the Local Language


When applying for jobs abroad, it's crucial to adapt your resume to the local language. Take the time to research the preferred terminology and vocabulary used in the country where you're applying. Highlight your language skills and showcase your ability to communicate effectively in the local language. This demonstrates your cultural adaptability and shows potential employers that you are serious about integrating into their work environment.


However, it's important to note that this is not a universal rule. In some cases, employers explicitly request resumes in English, regardless of the local language. Always follow the instructions provided in the job listing to ensure your application is in line with the employer's preferences.


Here's another tip: unless specified otherwise, tailor your resume to the language of the job advertisement. If the job posting is in German for example, submit a resume in German; if it's in English, submit an English version. Adhering to these guidelines helps you align with the employer's expectations and increases your chances of standing out in the application process.



Use Action Verbs to Describe Your Achievements


Some resume best practices are universal. Here's one of them: Employers are interested in what you have accomplished in your previous roles.


So, to make your resume stand out, use action verbs to describe your achievements. Words like "achieved," "managed," "created," and "implemented" are powerful and demonstrate your proactive approach to work. Be specific and provide quantifiable results whenever possible. This helps potential employers understand the value you can bring to their organization.



Keep the Tone Professional and Positive


While it's important to showcase your personality through your resume, it's equally important to maintain a professional and positive tone. Avoid using overly casual language or slang terms. Instead, focus on presenting yourself as a qualified and motivated candidate. Use positive language to communicate your skills, experiences, and accomplishments. This creates a favorable impression and increases the likelihood of being considered for the job.


A person in front of laptop symbolizing the importance of tailoring the length and tone of your international resume.

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash


These strategies will help you create a resume that captures the attention of potential employers and increases your chances of securing a job abroad.


 

#4: Add Contact Information


Next step: letting employers know how they can contact you. The key things to add? Your name and contact details. Let's see how to do it right when writing a resume for a job abroad:


Include Your Full (Legal) Name and Contact Information


Old phones image, emphasizing adding contact details to your resume for effective communication in job searches.

Start by including your full name at the top of your resume. This will help employers easily identify you and remember your application.


As an expat, you should also do this:

  • Ensure the name on your resume matches the name on your legal documents to avoid any inconvenience in the later stages of the hiring process.

  • Consider adding phonetical pronounciation of your name to your resume.

  • Be mindful of any special symbols or diacritics in your name, as some Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) may not handle them well. Simplifying complex characters can prevent technical issues and ensure that your resume is processed accurately by automated systems.



Add a Professional Email Address and Phone Number


Make sure to provide an email address and phone number that you check regularly. This will ensure that potential employers can reach out to you easily and promptly. Choose an email address that is simple and professional, preferably based on your name or occupation. Additionally, include a phone number that you can be reached at during business hours. Since employers will call you from abroad, remember to add country code to your phone number, so they know exactly how to reach you.



Provide Links to Your Online Portfolio or LinkedIn Profile


Another valuable addition to your resume is including links to your online portfolio or LinkedIn profile. This allows potential employers to review your work samples, projects, and professional background in more detail.


Ensure that your online portfolio or LinkedIn profile is up to date and showcases your skills, achievements, and experiences relevant to the job you are applying for.


 

#5: Add Key Resume Sections


When applying for jobs abroad, it's crucial to have a well-structured resume that showcases your qualifications and experiences.


Here are five essential sections you should include in your resume to make a strong impression on potential employers.




1. Contact Details


As discussed. in the previous section, including contact details on your resume is crucial as it allows potential employers to easily reach you. Ensure to include accurate and professional contact information, such as your phone number and email address.



2. Career Summary or Personal Profile


A personal profile or career summary is a concise paragraph at the beginning of your resume that highlights your career goals and summarizes your relevant skills and experiences. It gives employers a quick overview of who you are and what you can bring to their organization.


3. Work Experience and Achievements


Your work experience and achievements section is where you detail your past employment history, including job titles, company names, dates of employment, and a brief description of your responsibilities and accomplishments. Use action verbs and quantify your achievements whenever possible to make your resume stand out. Plus, as an aspiring expat, your international background is your strength. Learn how to highlight your international experience on your resume.


4. Education and Certifications


List your educational background, including degrees earned, universities attended, and relevant certifications or training programs completed. Highlight any academic honors or awards you received that are relevant to the job you are applying for.


5. Skills, Languages, Volunteer Work or Extracurricular Activities


Showcase your skills and language proficiency in this section. Include both hard skills (technical abilities specific to the job) and soft skills (transferable skills like communication and teamwork). If you are multilingual, mention the languages you speak and your level of fluency. Btw, don't miss the local language, even if you're just a beginner—employers will be curious about it.


Highlight any volunteer work or extracurricular activities that demonstrate your commitment, leadership, and teamwork skills. This section can help you stand out and show potential employers that you are well-rounded and actively involved in your community.


A photo of 2 volunteers cleaning the beach, showing the importance of adding volunteering info on your international resume.

Photo by OCG Saving The Ocean on Unsplash Take it a step further: Follow these 5 essential tips for an expat resume and ensure your resume ends up at the top of the candidate list.


 

#6: Customize for Each Job Application


This is a universal resume best practice: To stand out, you should customize your resume for each specific application. This shows employers that you've taken the time and effort to align your skills and experiences with their requirements.


Here are two key steps to help you tailor your resume effectively, without wasting HOURS doing it:


Tailor Your Resume to Match the Job Description


Start by carefully analyzing the job description and understanding the employer's needs. Pay close attention to the keywords and phrases used, as they often indicate the desired qualifications. Sprinkle these keywords naturally over your resume, especially in the skills and experience sections.


For example, if the job description emphasizes the need for "strong project management skills," be sure to highlight any relevant project management experience you have. Use the phrase "project management" in the skills section. Plus, share details about the projects you managed in the work experience section and career summary at the top of your resume. This ensures that your resume aligns with the employer's expectations and increases your chances of making a positive impression.



Highlight Relevant Skills and Experience


When customizing your resume, focus on showcasing the skills and experiences that are most relevant to the job you're applying for. Remove any information that is not directly related to the position or industry, as it can distract the employer from your key qualifications.


Use bullet points to clearly outline your relevant skills and accomplishments. This makes it easier for the hiring manager to quickly scan and identify the strengths you bring to the table. Remember to quantify your achievements whenever possible to provide concrete evidence of your capabilities.


A typewriter to highlight the importance of customizing your international resume to each job application.

Customize your resume for each job application to effectively demonstrate your alignment with the employer's requirements and increase your chances of landing an interview.

Did you know that not tailoring a resume is one of the most common resume mistakes expats make? Explore all 10 expat resume mistakes and learn how to avoid them.

 

#7: Proofread and Edit


Before submitting your resume for jobs abroad, thoroughly proofread and edit your document.


Do this to ensure your resume is error-free:


Check for Spelling and Grammar Errors


One of the most common mistakes in resumes is spelling and grammar errors. Use spell-check tools to catch any obvious mistakes, but also review your resume manually to identify any errors the tool might miss. Pay attention to punctuation, capitalization, and sentence structure to ensure your resume reads smoothly.


Ensure Consistency in Formatting


A well-formatted resume creates a positive impression. Ensure consistency in font usage, such as using the same font style, size, and color throughout your resume. Additionally, maintain uniformity in formatting, such as bullet points, indentation, and spacing. Consistency enhances readability and professionalism.


Get Feedback from Native Speakers or Professionals


Obtaining feedback from native speakers or professionals in the industry can significantly enhance the quality of your resume. They can identify any awkward phrasing, grammatical errors, or unclear statements that you might have missed. Their input can help you refine and polish your resume, making it more impactful.


A magnifying glass near laptop to show the importance of proofreading and spellchecking your international resume for a job abroad.

Photo by Agence Olloweb on Unsplash Everything perfect? Double-check with this 10-minute resume checklist for jobs abroad.


 

TL;DR — How to Write a Resume for a Job Abroad?


Having a well-crafted resume is crucial when applying for jobs abroad. To do it right, follow this simple 7-step resume writing guide:

  1. Understand the local job market to know exactly what employers expect.

  2. Adapt the formatting and structure to the local requirements, making sure you know the preferred resume format, length, and date format.

  3. Tailor the language and tone to the job description.

  4. Add contact information, so employers can easily reach you.

  5. Include key resume sections, from contact details to education and work experience.

  6. Customize each job application to incorporate and highlight the most relevant pieces of information.

  7. Proofread and edit your resume to avoid any typos or mistakes.


And that's about it! With that, you'll have your resume ready to go and win over employers worldwide.



Headshot of two female expats and career coaches in a circle on purple background.

Matilda Patsou & Ana Colak-Fustin


Hi there! We're Matilda and Ana — founders of MoreThanCareers, expats, international corporate recruiters, and HR professionals with 18+ years of combined HR experience. Since 2018, our career-building techniques, tools, and resources have helped over 500 coaching clients and 8,000 individuals worldwide land new, more fulfilling, higher-paying, career-changing jobs.

Now it's your turn. And More ThanCareers is here to help!

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