The US CV Writing Guide

Working abroad sounds like an adventure to many people. However, work in the US requires thorough preparation, starting with a successful application and requires more than just the obvious US cover letter and US CV writing and translation. You will face issues that probably did not even cross your mind when you become interested in the US jobs.

Do not underestimate the influence they can have on your adventure! For instance, you will experience the different immigration rules and practices, job application procedures, the selection trends and the management culture.

In the US, the term resume is used instead of CV. In short, the resume is an American-style CV, which details the most recent job first and highlights the main aspects of your career. It is less structured, in a narrative style and more brief than a CV. It is also more subjective.

A CV is similar to a resume in that it provides more details about one’s professional qualifications, experience and education. However, the term "Curriculum Vitae" most often called CV, typically carries a different meaning depending on whether one distribute the CV within the US, Canada or internationally (external to the US or Canada) or is seeking a faculty, academic, research, clinical or scientific position.

You can turn your current resume into the US CV. A CV is similar to a resume in that it outlines your professional qualifications and history, but it does so with more detail by adding to the resume the detailed descriptions of your educational and/or professional experiences and personal information that may include nationality, date of birth, marital status, etc.

It all starts with your CV. Prepare yourself - before writing your US CV research the company you want to work for. Such information will help you to adapt your CV more effectively to each specific job and use proper examples illustrating your achievements.

Depending on length of work experience, most employers in the US prefer one to two page CV printed in reverse-chronological order - starting with what you have done most recently.

Keyword CVs are also popular. Keyword CVs use keywords and phrases, specific to your field, throughout your CV for screening and ranking by a computer. To be most effective, first optimize your CV as a keyword CV. Keywords are typically nouns that reflect skills and experience sought by a potential employer. If your CV has been selected and ranked by a computer, a human screener will then review it; hence, it is important to balance keyword elements with traditional action words and other key phrases that elicit a positive response from the human reviewer.

The aim of your CV should be to persuade job recruiters to invite you for a job interview. Therefore, your CV is a marketing tool, which should be adapted to the market in which you intend to use it. Write an introduction that contains many power keywords and action verbs. Scanners that are programmed to select specific words notice these keywords.

Start your US CV with your name, address and e-mail address. Often CVs are kept on file for long periods, so any contact details you give have to remain accurate in the long term. A daytime phone number, with the international access code, are most important ones.

The main feature of the US CV is the objective and/or goal of your career. Clear, precise and operational “Career Objective” should use short and punchy sentences filled with action verbs and power words. It contains information about the function, the level of responsibility and the type of enterprise you would like to work for.

Follow the career objective with a “Work Experience”. Bear in mind, that looking for a job in the USA, is much like selling a product. You are selling yourself, so again use power words and action verbs that describe your achievements and accomplishments as contributed, organized, demonstrated, trained, managed, developed, coordinated etc.

Make your CV more effective by providing examples that fit the job, to illustrate your achievements. For maximum impact, bullet point these at the start of a sentence. That enhances your qualifications and experience in sharp, focused, upscale and aggressive manner.

Start with your recent employment first and work backwards. List your job title, the name, location, and focus of the business, your responsibilities, accomplishments and awards.

In “Education”, list with dates of attendance the names of academic institutions and they locations, areas of study and majors/diplomas/degrees. Mention additional courses and training, and special skills such as computer programs and languages in which you are proficient. Mention your native tongue and describe level of fluency for the other languages with reference to the spoken and written levels.

Carefully consider what to leave out of your CV and exclude anything that might give prospective employers a chance to discriminate against you. For example your age, sex, race, marital status, whether you hold a current driving license, etc. and never include a photo.

art_attention US CVFinally close your CV with “References available on request”. It is best to avoid putting references on your CV unless you have been specifically asked to provide them. Employers usually ask for references when they actually need them. This is strong indication that an employer is interested in you. Because references are usually verified, inform your referees in advance.

It is very common in the US to apply for a job through the Internet. However, you should be aware that an electronic CV does not look the same as a standard printed CV, so make your CV scannable by avoiding for example lines, bold or italic fonts etc.

art_warning US CVFinally, most employers expect your CV to be sent together with a cover letter. Always include a cover letter with your CV, but never attach any official documents, like diplomas or testimonials to your application.


Check the spelling and grammar of your US CV. Use the word processor's spell and grammar checker. If you are not confident of your ability to detect grammatical, punctuation and English or other language usage errors or if you need help in organizing your CV, send it to a professional for assistance.

art_remember US CVRemember that your US CV must be targeted, scannable and generate hits. If you have a difficulty with your CV writing, instead of staring at a blank piece of paper, use:

art_tip US CV

We recommend that you send your CV together with a cover letter. If you have a difficulty with your cover letter writing use:

Other US CV Info

If your US cover letter and US CV are ready, distribute them through the job search services to your prospective employers. When your US job search have been successful apply for the US visa with US work permit.

Start preparing for the US job interview using US dress code. Check the job interview tips do's and don'ts, and find out why people are not hired for available jobs.

In addition, on the international info, job search, visa, work permit, cover letter, CV & resume, job interview and dress code pages you will find many useful tips for overseas job seekers.

Good luck with your US CV!

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