The Harvard Business Review has written a helpful article on how to Write a Resumé that Travels Across Countries and Cultures.
As a Recruitment Consultant I receive in the region of 60-100 CVs per day from candidates applying for a role through MavenAlpha and it is noticeable the different styles of CV that we receive, for example:
- Asian technical CVs can often be 10+ pages – with an incredible amount of detail relating to each project
- African and Asian CVs often contain more personal information such as age, gender, ethnicity, marital status.
- Western European managers have a strong preference towards CVs that are no longer than 2 pages
- Some choose to include a picture and others don’t
I thought there were some very helpful bits in the HBR article, here’s a snippet it:
But although it is true that all markets have certain nuances, the central purpose of your resume — to “sell” you and your skills to the role in question — does not change as it travels across cultures. Ferrari has one main brochure for its new supercar, and the main “look” of the brochure will pretty much remain the same across all its dealerships throughout the world, even as it’s translated into different languages. You need to take the same approach with your resume.
Imagine if the world’s best golfer wrote their resume stating:
Hit ball again
Tap ball lightly
Tap ball into holeThis would not sell them to potential employers! It does not demonstrate their value or achievements.
In the same way, your resume must highlight your achievements, not just your responsibilities in your most recent roles. The good news is that defining your achievements is not as difficult as it sounds. Thank about specific instances where you made a difference to your organization.
But a resume is not enough. You also need to develop a professional cover letter with the right keywords.
When a company advertises a job vacancy, they are effectively saying “we don’t have someone to do this role — we have a problem!” What is then vital is for you to achieve in both your resume and cover letter is the impression that you are the solution. And you do need a cover letter.
A recruitment colleague of mine recently completed an analysis of the quality of cover letters sent to his consultancy. Out of every 100 candidates, on average:
- 73% of applicants supplied no cover letter or a brief introduction in the email of one to two lines;
- 16% supplied poor quality cover letters with spelling mistakes and highlighting no relevance to the specific role being advertised;
- 11% provided a professional cover letter highlighting the key aspects from the advertisement and their relevance to the appointment.
Therefore by just creating a professional cover letter, you can immediately position yourself in the top 11% of candidates right from the start.
This is where “mirroring” the job description is pivotal. In most job advertisements and position descriptions, there is a section highlighting specific characteristics and skills that would be effective in the position. Read through the documentation and summarize what the ideal person would look like. Write your cover letter that shows how your skills, achievements, qualifications and experiences can meet these requirements. Use the keywords in the job description to make sure the parallels are obvious even to someone hurriedly skimming your resume.
To be effective in a world of global recruitment, create a “brochure” that sells your skills and makes it clear to hiring managers that you are the solution to their problem.