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Turn Your CV into an American Résumé

Whether you are applying for a job with an American company or you are planning to relocate to the USA, you will need to make sure your CV is up to American standards. Though we all love talking about ourselves, writing your CV can be a cumbersome endeavour, especially when you have to do it in another language or for a job opportunity abroad. With the tips I will give you today, you will be able to transform your CV into an American résumé in just a few short steps.

1. Get rid of that photo in your American CV!

Unless you’re applying for a beauty pageant with that résumé, you should get rid of your CV’s photograph. Joking aside, adding a photo to your résumé is not the convention in the USA and it can also be considered inappropriate. After all, you should be employed for the skills you have and not for the way you look.

2. It is not a CV; it is a résumé!

Even if you are a native English speaker, it is important to note that American English may have different words for different things. Unless you are applying for a position in academia, the document that we know as a CV (curriculum vitae) is also a résumé. To make sure you cover all these differences, including your previous job titles, have your résumé spell-checked in American English.

3. Cut to the chase

It is just beautiful to talk about yourself, but you also want the others to listen to you, right? And you wouldn’t want anyone to get bored before the end. Well, especially with the American job market, you need to make sure the HR manager reads your whole CV in a limited amount of time and is sufficiently informed to assess your skills for the applied position. For that reason, be as informative and direct as possible on your résumé. Exclude all the unnecessary details, highlight the most important ones so that even if your résumé is just skimmed, all the crucial parts are visible. Even if you think your hobbies are what matter the most, unless they can get you that job, be sure to highlight the other sections that would also appear important to your potential employer.

4. No, you are not a celebrity and your CV is not written by someone else.

Turn Your CV into a Résumé in 7 Simple Steps celebrity
Image by Oli Lynch from Pixabay

Well If you were a celebrity, most probably your agent/manager would take care of your job opportunities. No matter how good and well known you may be in your field, you should write your own CV, and there is no sense whatsoever in referring to yourself in the third person. So, make sure you are talking about “I” and not “he/she”.

5. Don’t be shy in your American résumé!

If you think modesty will land you a job, the USA is not the place for you. Yes, being modest is a good character trait, but a modest CV is the last thing you need if you want to get that dream job. I’m not suggesting bragging about yourself, but I’m telling you to do it professionally. First, be honest about your successes and make sure you highlight them on your résumé with the right wording: “I changed the operational processes in the last quarter of 2018, which resulted in lowering the manufacturing costs by 10%”. Yes, you did it even if you did with your team and it is ok to talk about your personal contributions. This can be looked down upon as boastful in some cultures, but it is quite the opposite in the States.

6. Yes, we know that you are a team player.

Turn Your CV into a Résumé in 7 Simple Steps team player
Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

It is indeed important to talk about your achievements but only when you are talking about the things you actually achieved and not the must-have cliché CV phrases. Don’t worry, of course there is something that you did well and you can mention it on your CV with factual data: I worked hand in hand with an international team of colleagues for 3 months for a successful ERP transition of X Company. This sounds significantly more solid than a comment you made about yourself without any evidence.

7. Talk more about yourself in your American résumé!

You wrote a beautiful that is to the point and includes all your achievements. Now you feel like you could have told more to your potential employer. Your cover letter is the right place to explain the reasons why you are a good fit for that position. In fact, an American employer will always expect a cover letter to take your application seriously. But once again, make it readable and appealing. You should mention your motivation for the position and the employer but most importantly you should motivate your employer to select you. It is ok to sell yourself but do it on one page. Don’t assume the gender of the person reading your cover letter. Instead just address the company name “Dear X Company Recruitment Team”. Alternatively, you can use “Dear Hiring Manager” which will give the correct levels of formality and accuracy.

Don’t forget the USA is not the place to be shy. Be proud of yourself and show it to your employer. Good luck with the job hunting!

PS: You are not looking for a job in the US but rather something in France? Click here to read some tips.

About the author

I work at JobLeads as a content manager, I am responsible for outsourcing and managing freelance content editors and researchers. I believe that work should be a place where we love and help each other to prosper.