Hire me! Highlighting international experiences on your resume

Typing Resume

How you present international experience to a potential employer can make all the difference in showing versatility, adaptability and cultural skills

It might just be me, but it seems like real world realizations have started hitting everybody this week. It’s October already. Where has the semester gone? Holy crap, it’s time to start seriously thinking about jobs, internships or grad school. 

So as you freshen up your resume and polish your applications, here are a few things to consider when talking about your international experience.

1. Give them context. Not all international programs are the same. If you studied at a university, highlight that under your education. If you did an internship, frame it like other internships on your resume. Briefly and clearly explain what you did and the skills that you gained.

2. Don’t just tell them, show them. Many journalism or strategic communications internships require you to submit clips. Including a clip of something you did while abroad will not only give your potential employer a more robust understanding of what you did, but showcases a different set of skills, whether technical, cultural or linguistic.

3. Be mindful of cultural factors. Think about who is going to be receiving this resume. If your applying for something in Europe, they might prefer a curriculum vitae instead of a resume. Get rid of cultural jargon as you explain your international experience. Some experiences or words might not translate exactly, so write with the recipient in mind.

4. In what language? This all depends on who is receiving the resume. A general rule of thumb is to submit your resume and cover letter in the primary language of the job.

However, there are more detail-oriented factors to consider. Many universities have a name in the language native to where they are located as well as an English translation of that name. In many cases, it’s probably best to put the English translation on the resume. If that name is Googled, it’s more likely to lead to an English version of the website, or at least an English Wikipedia page. In my case googling the Universidad de Navarra takes you to the Spanish page first. Sometimes the English website doesn’t even show up. But searching for University of Navarre takes you directly to the English website.

5. Be honest about your language skills. I recently sent an email to a potential employer inquiring about the possibilities of an internship with an American company in Mexico City. The company does work in English and Spanish, but as a courtesy, I thought I’d send an email in Spanish. Of course, I wanted the email to seem polished and professional, but not overdone. I don’t know exactly what language competency they require from their interns, but I don’t want to make my language skills seem better than they are and then fall short of expectations later on.


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