International experience is valued by employers and provides you with a unique set of skills and knowledge that gives you a competitive advantage and will help you toward your career goals. Understanding the value of your international experience is the first step toward clearly stating this experience in your résumé, cover letter or during an interview.
In addition to any relevant field-specific expertise gained abroad, the following are some of the skills and qualities you may have developed through your international experience:
|Cultural awareness||Cross-cultural communication|
|Language skills||Learning quickly in a new environment|
|Ability to work independently||Handling difficult situations with cultural sensitivity|
|Creative problem solving||Working with a new workplace culture|
|Dealing with ambiguity and change||Functioning with a global perspective|
|Achieving goals, overcoming obstacles||Problem solving, crisis-management|
|Taking initiative/risks||Building cross-cultural relationships|
|Appreciation of diversity||Resourcefulness|
It is important to explicitly communicate the skills gained from your international experience so employers are aware of the unique skillset you will bring to the company. Use examples that clearly communicate how you have demonstrated or acquired these skills or qualities.
Use the Summary of Qualifications to highlight information you gained from your international experience. The key is to include technical and transferable skills or knowledge that are relevant to the opportunity you are applying to and ensure that you provide specific examples. For example, instead of simply stating “cross-cultural communication skills”, include the context in which you gained or applied this skill.
Summary of Qualification Bullet Point Examples:
Include languages spoken in the Summary of Qualifications if they are relevant to the position, company, or location you are applying to or if used to articulate a transferable skill. Avoid reference to English as a language skill.
When you are listing your international experience (work, study, internship or volunteer), pay close attention to the title of the position. Conduct some occupational research or speak to a career advisor to confirm that the language you are using in your résumé is the same language used in your industry in Canada. If necessary, change your job title to make it more clear to domestic employers and choose one that does not misrepresent your position or responsibilities.
For example, if you had the job title of ‘secretary’ in another country and it involved a fairly high level of responsibility, consider changing it to ‘administrative assistant’ for a Canadian résumé. This will provide clarity for Canadian recruiters because in some countries, a secretary could refer to an entry-level position and in others, it could refer to an executive-level position.
Check the International experience references section to learn how to communicate title changes to your referee.
Remember, your international experience is valued by employers so make sure to always include the location of your experience. Keep in mind Canadian recruiters prefer to see the location of your international experience listed in a “city, country” format.
Examples of Work and Volunteer Experience bullet statements:
• Presented business proposal to prospective clients in China using professional proficiency in Mandarin, resulting in 6 new contracts
• Mentored 24 new international employees by organizing monthly events to help them adjust to a fast-paced culturally diverse setting
• Collaborated with specialists in India and Turkey to create a global campaign to re-launch a series of products to the market
• Saved the company $4,000 CAD in monthly expenses by recommending strategic steps to improve the global purchasing system
Tip: If you have any bullet points that involve money, list them in USD or CAD as some of the other denominations may be hard for employers to grasp. Alternatively, you can provide values in percentages.
An international education experience could be from a study abroad experience, a completed degree from another country or cotutelle (joint/dual) degrees with an international university. Articulating your international education experience is important as it demonstrates that you have the adaptability and cultural intelligence to succeed in different educational environments.
List your education abroad in the “Education” section of your résumé. Indicate the name of the international university or the study abroad program/organization along with the city, country and dates. If you worked with a notable professor in your field while abroad, this can be included, if relevant.
Please see a career advisor if you have any questions about how to include international education on your résumé.
Drawing attention to certain international skills or country-specific experience is often beneficial, especially if this experience is required or highly relevant to the job. The following are some examples of how you could highlight this experience:
The key to successfully marketing your time abroad to a prospective employer in a cover letter or interview is to identify and develop high-impact career stories, stories that communicate how your time abroad has developed you into the ideal candidate for the job.
Below are a few tips on developing and communicating these stories:
Always remember that your international knowledge and cross-cultural understanding offers new perspectives and contexts that many employers welcome!