Resumes for Recent Immigrants
In this article, you will find resume tips for:
- Account Manager / Marketing Representative
- Administrative Assistant
- Laboratory Technician
- Travel Agency Manager
- Pharmaceutical Sales Executive
If you're a new arrival to the United States or Canada, you face many challenges in adjusting to the culture, the language, and the lifestyle. Along the way, you'll find that the culture of the workplace may be much different, and, most importantly for our discussion here, your job search will likely be a bit different than what you may have been accustomed to in your country of origin. The advice offered below is valid for the U.S. and Canada, and reasonably applies to Australia, as well.(Take note that we have included at least one resume for a candidate relocating from South Africa to Australia. The countries are different and there are some cultural differences, to be sure, but the fundamental principles involved in launching a new career in a new country are similar.) Here are a few tips to help you prepare a resume and cover letters that will advance your job search and win you interviews:
- Be your own advocate. Whether on your resume or your cover letter, or in person at a job interview, don't be afraid to tell employers about your accomplishments. In some parts of the world, modesty and a certain level of reserve are highly valued. However, what might seem like bragging in other cultures is almost a requirement for job seekers in the U.S. and Canada. Take to heart the advice in chapters 2 and 3, and include many accomplishments on your resume and in your cover letters.
- Clarify everything on your resume. You may hold a certification or university degree whose name is unfamiliar to employers in your new country. There may be other technical terms that lose something in the translation. Add an extra parenthetical line explaining that the credential in question is the equivalent of an American (or Canadian or Australian) college or university. An American employer may have never heard of the prestigious university in your homeland that is comparable to Harvard or Princeton in the U.S. An extra line explaining the admissions standards or the institution's reputation may help an employer understand the value of your education at that school.
- If English is not your first language, have someone who is adept in English (preferably a native speaker who also writes well) review your documents and help you get the language right. Especially in resumes, there are many nuances to word choices and usage. American English is a decidedly different “dialect” from that of our British or Australian cousins. Spelling, grammar, and the vernacular usage of certain words vary between these countries, and these variations are most noticeable in the written language. Even though Canada is right next door to the U.S., in most cases Canadians follow the British model for spelling and grammar rather than the U.S. model. That said, neither is right or wrong; it's just a matter of knowing which to use depending on where you are sending your resume.
- In the U.S., including your immigration status near the bottom of the resume is a good idea. Certain types of visas require employer sponsorship, which may or may not be an issue for some employers. If you're a permanent resident alien or otherwise possess immigration status that allows you to live and work in the country without restriction, including that on your resume assures employers that they won't have to deal with any extra red tape in order to employ you. Some government jobs require US citizenship, and if you are a naturalized US citizen, you may want to state that on your resume. In countries other than the US, it's recommended that you check with that nation's immigration authorities to determine your eligibility for work in that country.
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