Resume Writing Advice

Resume Writing Advice for Newly-Arrived Immigrants

If you are a new arrival to Canada or the USA, it is likely you will encounter some challenges in adapting to your new lifestyle, at least in terms of the different language and culture. You are also likely to find that workplace culture and job searching is somewhat different to what you are accustomed to in your own country. The careers advice provided here applies to Canada and the USA and should reasonably apply to Australia. Please note that we have provided one sample resume for a South African resident relocating to Australia. All the countries referred to are a bit different, and certainly each one has a few cultural peculiarities of its own. However, the basic principles that apply to carving out a new career in an unfamiliar country are relatively similar. The following are some tips for preparing resumes (or CVs) and cover letters to help you succeed in securing a job and at least get invited for interview:       

  • Do your own promotional work. Tell potential employers about your particular and unique accomplishments, whether this is in your resume, cover letter or face-to-face in an interview. It is true that a certain amount of reserve and modesty are prized in some cultures. However, those traits that may appear to be boasting in some parts of the world are virtually a necessity when job-hunting in Canada and the USA. So, please heed this advice and makes sure your resumes and cover letters amply showcase your considerable accomplishments.
  • Make sure your resume makes everything clear. It may be that you have a degree or some certification that employers in a new country are not familiar with. It is possible that some terms, especially technical ones, will not translate accurately. In these cases, add a short explanation. For example, you should indicate in parenthesis how a particular term or qualification relates to its counterpart in an Australian, Canadian or US university. It may be that a potential employer in Canada or America has not heard of some of the best universities in your country of origin even if they can be compared to the American equivalent, e.g., Princeton or Harvard. Therefore, a short explanation about an institute’s credentials or admissions criteria can help underline the value of your qualifications and/or academic record.

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  • If your first language is not English, ask another person who is fluent in English (ideally a native English speaker with good writing skills) to check the accuracy of your application documents. This is especially important in resume writing where the writer’s use and choice of words can have different nuances. For instance, US English is distinctly different in respect of grammar, spelling and vernacular usage from the versions used in Australia and the UK (which also differ slightly from each other). These differences are more obvious in written form. Although Canada is situated so close to the USA, Canadians in most cases adhere to the British rather than the US version in terms of grammar and spelling. Despite the differences, however, neither version is correct or incorrect. It is simply a case of understanding which version to use according to where your resume is being sent.   
  • It is advisable to indicate your citizenship status at the end of your resume. Some visa types need to be sponsored by employers, which can sometimes cause a problem for certain organizations. If you have some specific immigration status or the right to reside permanently and/or unrestrictedly in a particular country, you should indicate this since it reassures potential employers that they will not have to do additional paperwork to offer you employment. For some government-type positions, one needs to be a US citizen so your resume should state whether or not you are a naturalized citizen. In the case of non-US countries, it is advisable to check the applicable immigration policies to establish whether you are eligible for employment in that particular country.

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Please use our resume sample and find out that performing a great resume is as easy as an a-b-c.