Preparing an American Style Resume
Before you begin applying for internships in the United States, you should prepare an American style resume. American resumes follow a specific format. If your resume does not follow a format the hiring manager is used to, he or she may view it as poorly prepared. Even the best resume or CV in your country may not be appropriate for an employer here, just as an American resume may need to be altered for an employer in a different country.
Structure and Content of a Resume
Below are some suggestions for creating an American style resume:
- Limit the length of your resume to one page, single-sided.
- Create your resume on 8.5 x 11 inch paper with 0.5 - 1 inch margins on all sides. This is the standard size for an American resume. If you are sending your resume via post, print it on quality paper that is the same color as your cover letter.
- Do not include personal information such as age, gender, height, weight, marital status, photos, etc. It is illegal for U.S. employers to make employment decisions based on certain attributes or preferences of applicants. If you share this kind of information in your resume, you may actually discourage an employer from contacting you out of fear of future legal problems.
- The names of post-secondary schools and companies should be written in your native language, while everything else should be written in English.
- Do not use abbreviations.
- Align text with tabs instead of spaces to ensure all formatting remains consistent.
- Order your education and work experience chronologically with the most recent at the top.
- Educational experience should include the name of all post-secondary institutions attended, the degree or certificate received, the dates of attendance, and any honors or awards that you received. You may also briefly mention specific courses or projects that you completed if they are relevant to the requirements of the internship for which you are applying.
- For your work and volunteer experience, list the company or organization name and location on the first line. On the second line, list your title and department (if applicable). On the following lines, using action verbs to briefly describe your duties and accomplishments. Some examples of appropriate action verbs include:
Managed Directed Led Developed Achieved Established Negotiated Organized Designed Increased Strategized Prepared Budgeted Trained Edited Planned
- Include a short section at the end of your resume that includes a description of any special skills you have such as knowledge of computer programs and foreign languages.
- Spell check the resume at least two times, using an English spell check program. Once you have completed your own edits and corrections, have someone else review your resume for mistakes.
- Save your resume as both Microsoft Word and text only formats, as some employers and job sites accept only one of these. If you have the ability to save your resume as a PDF, this can be a better format to use when sending email attachments because compatibility issues can sometimes arise with other file types.
Remember that your resume is a reflection of you. It is a picture of your skills and experience, and can determine whether or not a company will interview you. It is important to have a well formatted document as well as one that is highly informative.
Tailoring Your Resume to the Job
When you are responding to an internship announcement, it is a good idea to make your resume specific to the position you are seeking. To do this, present your educational and professional experience in a way that matches the requirements and duties of the position.
For example, if an internship announcement states that the applicant should be familiar with budgeting principles, you may want to include descriptions of any projects you completed in school or your job that related to managing expenses, conducting financial analysis, or using accounting software and/or spreadsheets.
If you are applying for multiple internships at the same company, adjust your resume slightly for each position so that the employer can see that you have read the job descriptions closely and that you understand the differences between the positions
Your cover letter is another important place to draw attention to any specific experience or preparation that makes you qualified for the position you want.
Below are links to some sample resumes that are targeted to different industries and follow the recommendations outlined above: