Salut Honuguavers! Et bienvenue to step number four. By now you have completed some self reflection, selected your desired job field and country, researched the visa regulations and revamped your LinkedIn. What’s up next? A step that often goes overlooked, but that could make or break your chances of even getting considered for a position!
Step 4. Create a country specific cv/resume:
If you hand in a resume in Switzerland without a photo, odds are that because of this, it will be set aside and not reviewed. In the US; however, it is just the opposite. Your application may not be considered if you do include a photo (as they will only expect a photo if it says explicitly in the job announcement).
When you are crafting a CV, you will want to google the resume format preferred by the country in which you are applying. You can find this out from online forums and career websites. You can also contact a headhunter or an expert in your target country and ask them to crosscheck for alignment with local expectations. Length requirements differ as well. In some areas around the world, a long resume (up to three pages) may be acceptable. (Western Europe and Latin America). However, other countries may have a one-page resume standard, front and back (The U.S., and some parts of Asia) if you are an academic or you have authored or co-authored publications, your CV will have more pages.
Cover letters also fall into this category. Some countries and industries are more responsive to creative cover letters, while others, would much rather receive a traditional three-paragraph cover letter. In either case, doing an in-depth research about the company you are applying to, is essential. These are basic elements to be included in your cover letter: 1. Introductory paragraph and position you are applying to; 2. Experiences and specific examples which match the responsibilities of the position and the particular company culture; and 3. How will I be contributing to the organisation.
When Brittany went to Japan, for instance, she was told to demonstrate modesty. Resumes in the U.S. can be creative, or direct and to the point. In either case, it is widely encouraged to showcase yourself and put a spotlight on you. Many parts of Europe and Asia require a high level of respect and formality.
Language is the next determinant of whether your CV is considered. If the job post was written in English, submit your cover letter, of course in English, but also in the local language of the country in which you are applying. You may not have a working proficiency in the language, but taking the time to translate your CV and cover letter to the local language may give you an advantage over other foreign applicants. Doing so proves that you are committed to learning the language and that you respect the local context. You can always have someone proof-read both, your resume and your cover letter in the second language.
If you are contacted for an interview, practice the key vocabulary applicable in your industry, and memorise important sections of your resume and cover letter in both languages. Be honest about the level of language proficiency that you have * because if you have made it to the interview, chances are that you may be selected for the job. As a subsequent step, you can always ask the company to invest in language courses for you. It is common that companies pay for your language courses.
It is always beneficial to write your biography and aspirations in the language of your target country and rehearse it out-loud. Be prepared to present yourself in both languages and to cover the main questions that may be asked during the interview.
Finally, always keep each CV/resume and cover letter unique to the company in which you are applying! Tailor-made cover letters are a must! Provide explicit examples that showcase your research and interest on the company.
Even if you do not have the full knowledge of a particular skill listed on the job description, but you have worked with it at some point in the past, you should state your previous experience with this tool or skill, and always show your willingness to learn further.
Valentina received one of the most precious pieces of career advice from her friend and fantastic artist Estefania Aguirre, co-founder of Amen Maid in Mexico , and Digital and Creative Manager for Stokehouse Europe Brands. Estefania said “When you start a new job, always say yes to the challenges. You will learn the skill and show your resourcefulness.” in fact, say “yes, I may not know how to do it now, but I will get it done by the deadline.” This practice may take longer than your designated office hours, initially, but it will pay off in the long-run. After all, we are lucky to have a variety of teaching sources apart from YouTube and its amazing number of tutorials. Lynda.com and MOOC are both great places to upgrade your skills. You can even get a virtual diploma from the latest in order to add it to your CV and LinkedIn profile.
Ever since we have been saying yes to multiple technical requests, ranging from video editing, web-design, and coding/programming to conference and international press management, we have become more reliable, knowledgeable and well-rounded individuals at work.
Be creative and investigate the required application formats. Some algorithm-based software used to select CV’s, may not recognise common formats such as PDF. Be aware!
Try to have fun with it. Most importantly, don’t sell yourself short! If you make 60 percent of the requirements for your dream position, and it is exactly what you are looking for, then go for it! Focus on your strengths and how you plan to build up your weak points. Knowing these shortcomings and setting a strategy to overcome them will most certainly set you apart from the competing applicants.
So please, Ganbatte kudasai – try your best, take your time to craft each application!
We hope to see you back here tomorrow, next to a bin of crumpled paper and chewed pencils… the desktop bin works, too. We are ready to continue leading you on your journey to find a job anywhere in the world. 🙂
*In the US, an influential proficiency measure is the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) scale, developed by the US State Department. It identifies five levels of language proficiency:
- Level 1 – Elementary – Can fulfill the basic needs in a language, such as ordering meals, asking time, and asking for directions.
- Level 2 – Limited Working Proficiency – Can fulfill routine social demands, such as small talk about one’s self, one’s family, and current events.
- Level 3 – Professional Working Proficiency – Can discuss a variety of topics with ease and almost completely understand what others are saying.
- Level 4 – Full Professional Proficiency – Can participate in all manners of conversations with ease and only rarely makes grammatical mistakes.
- Level 5 – Native or Bilingual Proficiency – Can use the language the way an educated native speaker of the language would.
Additionally, a person in between levels might be at a 1+, 2+, 3+, or 4+ level.
European countries use something called the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. It’s the same idea, but the levels are broken down as:
- A1 – Breakthrough or Beginner
- A2 – Waystage or Elementary
- B1 – Threshold or Intermediate
- B2 – Vantage or Upper Intermediate
- C1 – Effective Operational Proficiency or Advanced
- C2 – Mastery or Proficiency