First-Time Resume-Writing Tips for International Students

First-Time Resume-Writing Tips for International Students

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Looking for a first job can be difficult enough, but when you are a foreign student, it can be a truly daunting task. Not only are there often language barriers to deal with, there is also the resume. It may be that in their countries, resumes are written differently than they are in the US. If you are an international student, you will need to learn about how to format a US standard resume. Here are some tips that will help you write your first US resume.

  • Keep it Short – Potential employers don’t want to read a book. They want the facts, and they want them fast. Try to put everything on a single page. If someone opens it and sees more than one page, they might not even bother looking at it because they don’t want to spend that much time reading one resume when they have hundreds or even thousands to go through.
  • Edit, Edit, and Edit Some More – You need to make sure that your resume is completely free of errors. Before you submit a resume to any company, check it to ensure that it has no spelling or grammatical errors, and that the format is correct. To know for sure that you have no mistakes, get a friend, or even one of your professors to look it over before you submit it anywhere.
  • Know What Not to Put In – There are some things that you should never include in a resume. These include photos, age, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, and other personal information. Employers are not legally allowed to ask for any of this information, and you are not obligated to provide it. Also, don’t include test scores. These don’t reflect your actual skills.
  • Include a Cover Letter – Your cover letter introduces you, and tells potential employers who you are and what you are looking for. You don’t need to create a full biography. Your cover letter should be no more than three to four short paragraphs. Go online to find a good cover letter guide to learn more about creating a cover letter that is going to get noticed.

How to Write a Resume

There are certain things that you need to include in a resume, and an order or format that you need to follow. Employers expect to be able to find certain information in certain spots, and they don’t want to have to search for anything in a resume. This is why there is a format that most people follow when creating resumes. Here is a quick rundown of how to format your resume, and what you should include.


  • Length – Keep it to 1-2 pages.
  • Fonts – Keep it simple. Accepted resume fonts include Times New Roman and Arial, size 11-12. Avoid italics, underlining, shading, bolding, etc. (unless of course you are applying for an artistic position and you want to show off your creativity).
  • Margins – These should be ¾-inch to one-inch on both sides.

What to Include

  • Contact Info – Include your name, mailing address, telephone numbers (home and mobile), email address, etc.
  • Objective – This tells the employer what you are looking for, but it is not mandatory as it can be included in your cover letter.
  • Skills Profile – Highlight your best three to five qualifications that make you a good candidate for the job.
  • Education – Talk about honors and awards you have received.
  • Experience – Discuss all job experience, both paid and unpaid.
  • Extra-Curricular Activities – List any school activities (high school and college), club memberships, leadership roles, etc.
  • Awards and Professional Memberships – This is the section where you discuss any awards you have won, and all of your professional memberships, including your role and duties.
  • Interests – Tell employers the things you are interested in, such as sports, entertainment, etc.
  • References – Do not list references on your resume. Instead, add “References available upon request”, and be prepared to show them during your interview.

Jane Hurst is a content writer and editor from San Francisco. Follow her on Twitter.