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International Student's Job Search: Tips and Terms

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Key Terms

You may encounter other terms as well, but, in general, these are the basic terms you will hear employers using in the United States. By understanding these key terms and what American companies expect on a resume, you can insure that you and your potential employer understand each other.

A resume is a personal summary of your professional history and qualifications. It includes information about your career goals, education, work experience, activities, honors, and any special skills you might have. A resume written for an entry-level position should not be over one page long.

For more information on writing a resume, see our other resources on employment documents:

Curriculum Vitae (CV, Vitae, or Vita)
Also known as a CV, Vitae, or Vita, in the United States a Curriculum Vitae is a detailed listing of your educational achievements, publications, presentations, professional activities and honors. Usually the vita does not include an objective statement, and formatting for the vitae varies by career. The curriculum vitae is longer than the resume; it is generally two pages or more. They are most often necessary only if you are seeking a faculty, research, clinical or scientific position. Click here to learn more about Writing a Curriculum Vitae.

Scannable Resume
A scannable resume is a resume that can be scanned into a database. More and more companies are using this type of resume since it eliminates paperwork and cuts operating costs. The format of a scannable resume is different from a traditional resume in order to insure proper scanning. The content, however, is generally the same, although there is a greater focus on using nouns rather than verbs to describe your accomplishments.

For more information on creating a scannable resume, you can read our handout on the subject, or download and view a PowerPoint presentation about scannable resumes.

Cover Letter (Job Application Letter)
Also known as a Job Application Letter, a cover letter is a business letter written to a prospective employer to express your interest in and qualifications for a position. It accompanies your resume and serves as an introduction to your resume. The cover letter also allows you to expand on certain points that could only be mentioned in the resume.

For more information about cover letters, visit our handout on cover letters or our handout on academic cover letters.

Resume Tips for International Students

Below are some tips about creating resumes and searching for jobs in the United States.

A Note on Your Job Search

  • Consider the location of the job and the type of field. Large international companies will be more willing to work with international students as will companies on the east and west coasts. Smaller, midwestern companies will sometimes not consider international students although providing information on employment status might appeal to these companies.

The Education Section of Your Resume

  • List the home school certificate you earned or the degree you were awarded along with the location of the school and the date the program was completed.
  • Do not include Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores. Instead, list:
    • how many years you have studied in English
    • how many years you have studied English, or
    • how many years you have spoken English
  • Do not try to "translate" your educational experiences for employers. Simply list those experiences and include your most recent experience; for example, acceptance at Purdue. Being accepted by an American university such as Purdue will signal to employers that you have qualifying educational experience.

Your Employment Status

  • Do not include information about your employment status on the resume. Rather, include this information in the cover letter. You should be up front about your status as an international student and the types of jobs you are eligible to be hired for as a result.
  • Check with the Office of International Students and Scholars for information on your status and the types of jobs for which you may be hired (Schleman Hall, room 136).