From Thoughts to Paper:
Capturing Your Global Competency in a Cover Letter & Resume
- The goal of a cover letter is to motivate the recipient to review your resume and ultimately invite you for an interview.
- Your cover letter is your opportunity to highlight to your prospective employer what sets you apart from other candidates.
- As you construct a letter of application consider how your cross–cultural experiences have helped you develop and/or strengthen the skills and competencies required for this specific position. How might your international experience uniquely benefit you in this role as well as the organization? Even if you are not focusing on a specific international position or organization, you can promote general transferable skills, such as independence, confidence, and problem solving.
To effectively present an international experience on your resume, ask yourself the following questions:
- What am I trying to communicate to a potential employer about my international experience? About its relationship to my major?
- What skills did I gain? What cross–cultural competencies did I develop? Did I become proficient in a language?
- Where should I include this experience on my resume so that it will have the most impact and support what I am trying to communicate?
- Did I gain research experience through conducting an independent study project? Have I become well versed in some aspect of my host country's culture?
Emphasize your international experiences by:
- Making sure your study abroad experience stands out and is identified as part of the Education section OR have a separate section for Study Abroad
- Highlighting the subjects you studied while abroad, the place where you studied, the grades you received, and the amount of time you were there.
- Focusing on your accomplishments and skills. Your resume should focus on the —results of your study abroad experience, not simply where you went or what you did.
- If you completed an internship abroad, make sure to give this experience its own space and detail, especially if it was language intensive or provided practical work experience in your academic major. This could be located in a Relevant Experience section of your resume or under Education, separated from but associated with your study abroad program.
- Using the Interagency Language Roundtable Language Skill Self Assessments in describing your language proficiency.
- If you are applying for a position that involves travel or significant work with overseas offices or customers, and if you have done a significant amount of travel to other countries, you may want a Countries Visited section. This will demonstrate your exposure to a variety of cultures and that you are well-traveled, suggesting you will require less preparation and hand-holding when it comes to this part of the job. It also reflects an interest in travel, adventure, self-reliance, and heightened cross-cultural sensitivity. Don't list countries you spent a day or two in, only those where you really spent some time and could discuss them in an interview or conversation.