As you apply for a job in the U.S. from South Africa, you will notice that many employers ask you to submit a resume. Unless you are applying for certain academic jobs, it would be hard to find an employer who mentions needing a CV. Therefore, it is virtually guaranteed that you will need to turn your CV into a resume.
Understand the Main Differences Between U.S. and South African CVs
A CV in the U.S. means a document, often many pages long, that goes into exacting detail on publications, projects, presentations, work history and much more. CVs are common for academic positions. However, in South Africa, a CV basically equates to what is called a resume in the U.S.
Get Rid of Personal Information
The most important thing to do is to strip your South African CV of personal information such as hobbies, your age, marital status, ethnic background and driver’s license number. It is unprofessional to offer such information in the U.S. Many people also use their CVs to include a references section. Never do this on a resume (or on a cover letter). Employers will ask for this information if they need it, and in fact, quite a few online application procedures give you the opportunity to list references.
In your contact information, you can include a link to your LinkedIn profile. There, prospective employers can learn about your interests if they want to, making searching for a job in the U.S. from South Africa probably much different than what you’re used to.
Look at Length
Jettisoning personal information shortens your resume, but it may need to be even shorter. If you are searching for an entry-level job in the U.S. from South Africa, stick to one page. Two pages are okay if you have 20 years or more of important information to include. In some cases, such as for executive-level applications, resumes can be three pages. This is definitely not the norm, though. To trim for entry-level jobs if necessary, cut any work history older than 10 years unless it is particularly relevant or outstanding. You also shouldn’t include your high school information unless it is the only education you have.
Another approach to trimming is to prioritize. Review individual job postings for specific work experience requirements and specific skills. Give emphasis to them in the resume you create for that company; if you won’t be using InDesign at this job but will be using Photoshop, it can be a good idea to just leave off InDesign while keeping Photoshop.
Remember Appearance and Format as You Search for a Job in the U.S. from South Africa
You can use the fonts preselected for you in Resume Editor. Make sure your document is easy to read on cellphone screens, and never go under 10-point fonts. Some color is okay, but use it as you might use bold typefaces (for example, subheadings in blue). Color might be fine to add a bit of variety to a document, such as having the line below your contact section be blue instead of black. Above all, strive for consistency. Don’t have one subheading one color while others are black. If you are at all in doubt, simply go with black and white for the entire resume. (Note: You do have more leeway for creative professions. You can also get an idea of a company’s culture by browsing its website.)
As for paper size to use when you look for a job in the U.S. from South Africa, change the layout of your page size to 8 inches wide by 11.5 inches long, no A4 pages. Also, you don’t need to give your full address. In fact, doing so may be confusing to a U.S. employer, but you should at least list something such as “Johannesburg, South Africa” to show where you are.
Turning your CV into a resume is a must when you apply for jobs in the U.S. As a rule of thumb, include no personal information.