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Writing a Resume or CV in a Foreign Language

Writing a resume or curriculum vitae in a foreign language is an important task for those seeking jobs in countries that speak a language other than their own. Here are some simple tips for anyone who must begin the task of constructing a resume in a foreign language in order to get a job.

Familiarity With the Proper Resume or CV Format

Viewing sample resumes in the foreign language is essential. If possible, using more than one as a guide is helpful, in order to figure out which format would work best for the individual job applicant. For instance, one resume might list educational credentials at the beginning, while another might put professional experience first. Some put the oldest information first, while others the most recent.

Sample resumes can help a job seeker become familiar with terminology and format. About.com has an excellent listing of sample resumes and CVs that includes those appropriate for several different countries and in multiple foreign languages. See also Mary Anne Thompson’s jobweb.com article with country-specific guidelines.

Two Approaches to Writing the First Draft of the Resume

After becoming familiar with format and terminology, there are two strategies for how to tackle writing the first draft of the resume:

  • Writing in the job seeker’s native language and translating: This is a good strategy if a resume needs re-vamping. It’s important to put the resume in the appropriate format first.
  • Writing in the foreign language first: This should be done once comfortable with vocabulary in that language.

Either strategy will produce a quality resume with extensive proofreading; both are just a means to the same end, and which method a job-seeker uses just comes down to personal preference.

Second Opinions and Proofreading

As with any important document, a second set of eyes is absolutely essential, particularly if the original writer of the document has revised and re-formatted a document to the point of being sick of it. Once the document is in the foreign language, run it by a native speaker if possible, either in person or via email. If the job seeker does not know anyone who speaks that language other than the prospective employer, it’s time to ask around among friends to see if they might know someone, or look for someone online who might be able to edit/review the resume for a nominal fee.

If following the first resume-writing strategy listed above, have someone review the untranslated resume first; it should be someone familiar with the most up-to-date resume writing standards, such as a career counselor, friend who works in a human resources department, or even someone who has just completed a successful job search.

When writing a resume in a foreign language, it is important to be familiar with appropriate resume/CV formats for a specific country, and with terminology typically used in the document. Choosing a writing strategy, be it writing in the native language and translating, or starting out by writing in the foreign language, is a good way to start putting the resume together once familiar with format and vocabulary. And a final review by a second (and even third) pair of eyes is the last step before submitting the resume.

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