by Ronald L. Krannich, Ph.D. and Wendy Enelow
Editor's note: This article is an excerpt from Krannich and Enlow's book, Best Resumes And CVs For International Jobs: Your Passport to the Global Job Market. Impact Publications.
Much of international job-searching and resume writing is centered in a series of myths and mistakes that take job-seekers down a long and frustrating path where they encounter many failures and lost opportunities. Many of the myths and mistakes are generic to the job search process while others are peculiar to international job-seekers who operate in a very different employment arena than their domestic cousins.
Myths and Realities of International Job-Searching
We've frequently encountered the following myths and realities with international job-seekers who mean well but misunderstand how the job market operates:
Myth #1: The best way to find an international job is to submit a resume and cover letter in response to classified ads, respond to job postings on the Internet, post one's resume online, and use employment agencies specializing in international jobs.
Reality: Your chances of landing an international job using these traditional "application" methods are not very good. This is the advertised job market of high competition. Many of the jobs in this market are not so great and many may be nonexistent. While most job-seekers spend a disproportionate amount of time exploring this market with resumes and letters, the results are usually very disappointing. In fact, you should not spend more than 20 percent of your time looking for a job using this approach. The international market is a highly personal job market where who you know is often more important to landing a job than what you know. The best way to land an international job is through the hidden job market of networking and recruiters which tend to maximize the highly personalized nature of this job market. Use your resume as a calling card for letting people you know -- friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and cold-call contacts -- that you are looking for a job. The single best approach will be networking by way of informational interviews. This method is spelled out in great detail in Ron and Caryl Krannich's The Savvy Networker: Build Your Net for Success and Bernard Haldane Associates' Haldane's Best Answers to Tough Interview Questions. If you only learn one job-search skill, make sure it's networking. It will be your lifeline into and around the international job market. This skill will serve you well throughout your international career. [Editor's Note: You can also learn more about this key job-search tool by using the Quintessential Careers Informational Interviewing Tutorial.]
Myth #2: A good international resume will get me a good international job.
Reality: Resumes don't get jobs -- they advertise candidates for job interviews. Landing a job interview can be a function of several factors, including the quality of one's resume. Make sure you produce a first-class resume. After all, it is your calling card. It tells potential employers who you are and what you are likely to do for them. It may also become the basis for asking you questions during the job interview. But don't assign some magical quality to your resume. As noted for the reality of Myth #1, your networking activities, in conjunction with an outstanding resume, will most likely land you the job interview which hopefully will result in a job offer. [Editor's Note: Find multiple tools for writing or fine-tuning your resume in this section of Quintessential Careers Resume Resources.]
Myth #3: The best qualified candidate will get the job.
Reality: The candidate that impresses the employer the most will get the job. Many people with top-notch qualifications produce weak resumes that fail to communicate their major strengths. The so-called "best qualified" candidate is the one the employer likes the most. Above all, you must communicate to the employer that you have the requisite skills, personality, and enthusiasm to produce expected outcomes. Once you get to the job interview, you must convince the employer that you have the necessary focus, personality, and enthusiasm
Myth #4: Employers are in the driver's seat. They control the outcomes of the hiring process.
Reality: Many employers don't know what they really want and they often make bad hiring decisions. Many of them let candidates define their hiring needs by examining resumes and interviewing candidates. If you produce a first-class resume, chances are you may help such employers define their needs around the skills and capabilities outlined in your resume.
Myth #5: Most international employers want CVs which run several pages.
Reality: It depends on the employer and the position. A well-organized one- to two-page resume will suffice in many cases, especially if you are dealing with multinational corporations which prefer achievement-oriented resumes. In fact, you can achieve the best of both worlds -- the American-style one- to two-page resume and the more detailed CV -- by combining the two. Write a very powerful one- to two-page resume and then attach additional support pages that approximate the traditional CV. In so doing, your one- to two-page resume, in effect, serves as an "executive summary" for the more detailed information on your experience.
Myth #6: Most international employers want a photo and a great deal of personal information on a resume or CV.
Reality: It depends on the employer and the country. You are well advised to ask about resume and CV requirements before submitting your resume or CV to an international employer. Unlike the United States where photos, age, gender, marital status, religion, weight, references, salary requirements, and other personal information are considered inappropriate to include on resumes, in many countries this information may be required or eagerly sought as part of the initial screening process. You'll have to decide if it's really worth pursuing a job that requires such personal information. Not including such information on your resume or CV could disqualify you from consideration.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Be sure to check out all our great global job-search tools and tips in this section of Quintessential Careers: Job and Career Resources for Global Job-Seekers.