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International Resumes: Differences By Country

Dec 9, 2020 | Business, Culture

For companies looking to hire candidates, deciphering international resumes may be difficult. Employers want to find the best candidate for the job. Understanding resume and CV practices that are customary outside of North America is a must.

Personal Information

North American employers will notice that candidates applying from other countries will include personal identifying information. Ethnicity, age, gender, and nationality are pieces of information that countries like Dubai expect to be included in a resume. Anti-discrimination laws don’t exist in many countries around the world, and candidates hailing from those corners of the world should not be penalized for including identifying information.

Applications from countries in the UK will likely include information about the candidates’ personalities. Hobbies and interests are often touched on to give the interviewer an insight into the life and character of the applicant. Some of this information could reveal a candidate’s ethnic background to an interviewer. Human Resources personnel should avoid personal bias when evaluating such resumes.

Traditions and Customs

Job seekers from the Indian subcontinent, many Asian countries, and even China, will be likely to include a personal details section at the end of the resume. In India, it is customary to include information such as marital status, date of birth, gender, passport number, and languages spoken. Many Asian applicants may include medical details such as blood type on their resume.

Revealing this information to human resources personnel in North America may seem proper to the applicant. International applicants will usually be submitting CVs which will allow the interviewer to get to know the applicant on a more personal basis. A CV internationally is more than a short letter of introduction. It is longer than a resume, and in academic fields will replace it entirely. Like its name suggests in Latin, it is telling the course of someone’s life. 

What’s in a Name?

Nicknames are popular outside of North America, and many will be included in resumes. Hiring bias can occur when names identify an applicant’s cultural, religious, or ethnic heritage.  A caveat to remember is that you do not have to put your legal name on your resume. Once a job offer is extended, the successful candidate will need to provide their legal name for background checks and security clearances. 

In the majority of North American cultures, a nickname is a familial name or term of endearment. Depending on the country, village, or tribe, nicknames may be given to distinguish those of the community. The legal name for Non-Canadians that have been in the country is the one listed on the Canadian passport and other immigration documents.

Non-Canadians may have names that are misunderstood or mispronounced when said by Canadians. Allowing the candidate to specify the name he or she prefers is important. Human Resources personnel can instruct a candidate to whom an offer of employment has been proffered where and when their legal name will be required.

CV vs Resume

Many countries outside North America use a Curriculum Vitae (CV) instead of a resume. Latin for “course of life”, curriculum vitae is generally longer and more personal in nature than the typical resume. Resumes are common in both the USA and Canada, but the rest of the world uses CVs.

North American companies looking for prospective employees should clearly state whether a resume is preferred in lieu of a CV. If this is not stated, expect international applicants to present a CV. Depending on the job field, this document could resemble more of a portfolio. 

There are many types of CVs. Reverse Chronological, Functional, and Combination are currently the most popular with job seekers in Europe. It is always important to research the hiring practices of the country you are applying to before you submit your CV or resume.


Resumes are summaries of the candidate’s qualifications and will be shorter than a CV. Though longer than resumes, typically CVs will only be 2 to 3 pages long for most job interviews. Highly technical, research-oriented jobs will receive longer CVs. Contact us for help recruiting the best international personnel.

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