Applying for a job in the United States? This guide has the tips, examples, & format requirements needed to write the perfect USA CV. Create your VisualCV today!
In America, the term ‘resume’ is much more common than ‘CV’ - in fact, these terms refer to two different things. A ‘CV’ usually refers to a long, detailed document for academics and jobs in academia. In all likelihood, this is not what you will need when applying for a job in America - a simpler, two page resume will do.
Length: In most cases, two pages is sufficient for your US resume. A one page resume will do if you graduated within the past few years, and a three page resume is acceptable for very experienced job seekers, but be careful - “The longer your resume is, the less likely an employer is to see the parts you want them to see,” according to Alison Green at Ask a Manager. Unless you are very certain, keep it to two pages.
Language: Use standard American English when writing your American resume. Drop those extra U’s: it’s ‘color’ and ‘labor’, not ‘colour’ or ‘labour’.
CV or Resume: In the United States, the term ‘resume’ is more common than ‘CV’. ‘CV’ usually refers to a longer academic document that contains much more information than a regular resume.
Photo: In most cases, it is recommended that you do not include a picture of yourself with your resume. Your appearance is not relevant to your skills and abilities, and including a picture distracts from the content of your resume and opens the door for discrimination - indeed, “Some companies will even flat-out reject resumes with photos, just to avoid that potential accusation,” according Julie O’Malley. This rule of thumb has exceptions, however; be sure to do your research before making your decision. If you are applying to a more creative role - perhaps in film, graphic design, or the performing arts - a professional picture may help you to stand out and build your personal brand. Use your discretion when deciding if a CV picture is right for each application.
Personal Information: It is important to include your name, address, phone number, and email address. You can also include a link to your LinkedIn or other social media, but only if you are completely certain that these profiles will present you as professional and hireable. Be sure that any online profiles are up to date and reflective of your goals and professionalism.
Personal Summary: A summary of your qualifications separate from your work experience is optional, but for experienced job seekers it is a great way to provide a snapshot of your history and skillset. According to Lily Zhang at The Muse, summary statements are “usually best for more experienced professionals with years of experiences to tie together with a common theme.” This section should be short and punchy - sell yourself in as little space as possible.
Work experience: Write your work experience in reverse-chronological order, with your most recent position at the top. When writing your work experience, focus on your achievements rather than your responsibilities, highlighting quantifiable information whenever possible. Your work history should be tailored to suit the job you are applying to - use keywords from the job posting, but only if you can back up your claims.
Education: Your educational achievements should also be listed in reverse-chronological order. If you are a recent graduate you can include your GPA, but only if it is high and only if it is relevant to the job. Once you have more years of work experience, your GPA becomes less important.
Skills: A list of skills is a great way to supplement your work history. It is a simple and readable way to give an idea of what you excel at.
Volunteer experience: Relevant volunteer experience looks great on a resume. If your volunteer experience is particularly robust, you can include it in your work experience section instead.
References: It is not necessary to include your references on your resume. Simply supply them when asked by an employer.
A straightforward two page resume is the way to go in America. Strong, active language, achievement-focused work history, and a robust skill set will impress recruiters and employers all across America.