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If you’re searching for work overseas with the Foreign Service, looking for a job as a foreign exchange specialist, or searching for any job with a US government agency or corporation on foreign soil, you’ll need a resume, just as you would for a domestic position.
And as you begin creating your resume, you’ll have two options: You can use pre-existing templates and sophisticated online resume builders (LiveCareer’s resume creation tools are available around the clock), or you can create and edit your own resume from the ground up. For a job with the Foreign Service, you’ll create a resume that meets the requirements and recommendations of the US Department of State (DoS), which are available for review on the DoS website. But most of these criteria match those of a business standard resume for any professional position in the US.
If you decide to draft and edit your own document, you can use the international resume samples presented here to guide your writing and formatting decisions. These international resume samples can serve as a model and provide inspiration and direction that can keep you on track. They can demonstrate the kind of information you’ll need to include, the layout and visual elements your employers will be looking for, and the common mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
In addition to this collection of international resume samples, read through the sections below for further advice and recommendations.
What to Include in an International Resume
Of course, the text and details of your resume will vary widely depending on your industry, your specific job, your long-term career goals, and the employer you decide to target. You’ll also tailor your approach to match your credentials and certifications. But as you’ll notice while reviewing these international resume samples, there are a few elements that should appear in every resume with global reach.There’s no single right way to create an international resume, but in almost every case, your resume should show respect for the language and expectations of your readers, and your document should contain each of the standard sections listed below:
- Resume Summary (or Objective)
- Education Section
- Work Experience
- Skills/Extracurricular Activities
As you can see while reviewing these international resume samples, you’ll have some straightforward formatting guidelines to follow as you complete your summary, education, and skills sections. But when you reach the section that outlines your work experience, you’ll need to make some formatting decisions of your own.
Some candidates choose to present this section in the traditional chronological layout, which uses the candidate’s past positions to emphasize his or her future potential. Other applicants choose the functional layout instead, which shines the spotlight on specific skills and capabilities, rather than former jobs.
If you choose the chronological layout, you’ll create a separate entry for each of your past positions, beginning with the most recent. Within each entry, you’ll provide the title of your job, the name of your employer, and the dates on which you began and ended your tenure. After this basic information, you’ll offer a short, succinct summary of your most important responsibilities in this role and some of your proudest accomplishments during this chapter of your career.
If you choose the functional layout option instead, you’ll break your entire work experience section into two subsections. The first of these two sections will present a list of your core capabilities, or the most important areas of expertise that you can offer a potential employer. In the second section, you’ll share a list of your previous jobs titles, but you won’t need to add any supporting detail, like the dates of your tenure. You also won’t need to document your responsibilities or special accomplishments.
The formatting option you choose will depend on the needs of your target employer and your own personal preference, but in general, the chronological option will work well if you can present an uninterrupted work history with a steady progression of increasing responsibility in your field or area. In you’ve experienced a mid-life career change, a few lateral moves, or some departures and returns to and from the workforce, the functional option can keep the focus centered on your capabilities and contributions. Review the international resume samples in this collection to get a sense of how each style might influence a reader.
How to Write the International Resume Summary Statement
Like the international resume samples on this page, your resume will begin with your name and contact information, which should be prominently displayed at the top of the page. Just under this heading, you’ll provide a summary of your profile that emphasizes your strongest credentials. If you’re applying for the Foreign Service, this summary will take the form of an â€œobjective statementâ€, which will emphasize the type of position you’re looking for, not just what you have to offer. Again, review the international resume samples presented here and check the DoS website for more information about this opening statement.You can also take a look at the additional examples below:
- Experienced fund manager for retail investors on the Foreign Exchange. Successfully spearhead advertising and marketing efforts targeting FX investors, educate investors about the challenges and opportunities available on the FOREX market, analyze market conditions and execute buy/sell orders. Five years of experience as an FX trader and two years as a Senior Trader.
- International healthcare manager with eight years of state department and NGO project management experience. Specific expertise in program design and US healthcare policy development. Able to coordinate emergency medical service delivery in cross cultural environment using limited resources. Excellent problem solver, adept at simplifying complex procedures and working under intense timeline pressure.
How to Write the International Education Section
The education section of your resume will appear below your summary. You can also insert this section below your work experience if you choose, but you’ll have to decide which section adds more value to your candidacy.
Regardless of where it’s positioned on the page, your education section will document each of your degrees and diplomas in a separate entry. For each entry, you’ll list the title of your degree, your course of study, the name of your institution, and any special awards, honors or distinctions that can set you apart and show off your accomplishments in the classroom. You can also include your GPA (if above 3.0) and your graduation or completion dates if you choose.
If you hold certifications or licensing credentials that may impress your employer, list these in a separate section just below your degrees. Evaluate your audience as you do so; if you’ll be working for an employer outside the US, some of your credentials may require some extra explanation.
How to Write the International Work Experience Section
As mentioned above and illustrated by the international resume samples in this collection, your work experience section can be presented in any one of three formats: You can use the chronological format, the functional format, or a hybrid that blends the qualities of these two styles.
The chronological format will show off your previous positions, so if you choose this option, you’ll list your past job titles beginning with your current or most recent role. Under each entry, you’ll add the name of your employer, your basic responsibilities, and the special accomplishments that helped you stand out in this position. Clearly state your employment dates, and feel free to omit past positions that are not relevant to the job at hand.
If you choose the functional format, you’ll be showing off your abilities and core areas of expertise rather than your track record of previous positions. If you choose this option, you’ll break the section into two parts and use the first to list these competencies. The second will provide a concise overview of your past job titles, minus supporting detail like dates, responsibilities, and accomplishments.
As you complete this section of your international resume, regardless of the formatting style you choose, you’ll need to take your audience into account. Make sure your statements and descriptions are clear, so they don’t exacerbate potential language or culture divides. Use acronyms carefully and don’t make false assumptions about what might impress an employer from another country.
Action Verbs to Include in Your International Work Experience Section
Here are a few concise action verbs that can add impact to your work experience section:
How to Write the International Resume Skills Section
Most professional domestic employers require only one resume section that addresses a candidates special skills. But some DoS employers and some international organizations recommend one section for skills and a separate section for hobbies and extracurricular activities. No matter how you decide to present this information, consider these sections an opportunity. Take advantage of this space on the page to present anything you can do and any area of special knowledge that you haven’t been able to mention in previous sections.
These special knowledge and skill areas will certainly include language fluencies. They can also include not-yet-mentioned software skills; teambuilding and leadership skills; speaking, writing and communication skills; and any artistic or athletic abilities that your potential employers may find relevant.
This information can help you forge a connection with your interviewer, and it can also help your reviewers decide if you make an appropriate culture and personality match. Again, review these international resume samples for guidance and inspiration, and always consult the employer job description to get a feel for the specific skills a role demands.
Should I Include References in my International Resume
Your Foreign Service and international employers are very likely to request a list of professional references at some point before the hiring process is complete. This will probably include the names and contact information for at least three people who can provide personal testimonial regarding your skills and work ethic, but this list probably won’t be requested until after the initial review of your resume has been completed. Even if your references and resume are requested at the same time, there’s usually no need to include these names, phone numbers and email addresses within the text of your resume. Instead, include this information in a separate document and search carefully for your employer’s specific instructions on this point.
International Resume Fails: Mistakes to Avoid
Here are a few common mistakes that are often made by candidates as they draft and edit resumes for international positions:
Missed opportunities: Far too often, international employers require a specific credential, candidates proudly hold this credential, and somewhere along the way, this information is lost or misunderstood. Don’t let language or cultural gaps prevent you from making yourself understood. If you have the exact type of project management, teaching, or development experience your readers need, don’t let acronyms, jargon, or assumptions get in your way.
Minor errors: Small misstatements or clerical errors can send the wrong message to a government employer. Don’t be dropped from the running just because of a typo. Proofread carefully and demonstrate that you have an eye for detail.
Protocol problems: Despite the information presented here and the guidelines available through the DoS and the Foreign Exchange, your own target employers may have specific resume formatting and submission requirements of their own, and their own rules may depart from these recommendations. Investigate this possibility before you apply.
Job Prospects in the Foreign Service
- The DoS employs Foreign Service officers at over 265 embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions around the world. If you join this elite group, you’ll most likely hold a position in public diplomacy, management affairs, consular affairs, political affairs or economic affairs.
- There are no specific educational requirements for joining the Foreign Service, but you will need to pass a set of written and oral exams and a medical and background check, and you’ll need to be willing to move to the country in which you’re stationed. Many positions may be available within your area of expertise; check the DoS website for more information.