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How to prepare an American resume as an international student

interstride logo by Interstride
July 29, 2022

When seeking an internship or job in the US as an international student, preparing an American resume is essential to successfully obtaining employment. Every university and college has a preferred template that they like their students to follow. Consider consulting your career office for your institution-specific resume template and formatting advice as you read this article.

Developing a strong US format resume will highlight your education, skills and experiences to US employers and increase your chances of landing competitive roles. Even if you already have a resume, it may differ significantly from what is expected in the US. For example, American resumes generally include less personal information than other nations, contain no photos and test scores, and may differ in their format and content.

Resumes can be used for on-campus jobs, internships, full-time jobs, volunteer opportunities, and even networking and informational calls and events. Every job you apply to will require you to send in a resume, so it is important that your resume’s content and format fits what is expected from US employers.

Resume content

A resume’s content can differ based on what industry or role one is applying to, but US format resumes all typically include several standard sections of content.

  • Personal Information: US resumes usually have a page header that includes one’s full name, cell phone number, and email. Some resumes also include a home address, city, personal website, or LinkedIn profile link.
  • Education: Your school’s name, location, degree, area of study, and dates attended are the essential pieces to list. You may also want to include your GPA, relevant coursework, or awards and honors achieved, if space permits. Different countries can have different degrees and university-related terms, so be as clear as possible and avoid abbreviations. Additionally, do not list a high school or unnecessary educational information.
  • Relevant Experience: In this section, you want to list your most relevant past work experiences, such as internships and jobs. Most relevant experience sections focus on full-time and part-time jobs, internships, and co-ops, but you can also add research experience, student leadership, volunteering, and independent projects. This section is usually the largest, and should include concise but valuable information on each of your past experiences.
  • Skills and Interests: Most US resumes include this section, where you can feature technical skills applicable to the role you are applying to. You can also add any international experiences and languages. Some undergraduate students also include several of their interests and hobbies if space permits, as this can add more personality to one’s resume. However, this is not a priority, and transferable skills should be listed first.

Resume format

A resume should be formatted in a way that is organized and easy-to-read. Standard US resumes are usually only one page long, so it is important to keep your resume’s content concise. 

Additionally, US resumes follow a reverse-chronological format, which puts your most recent experience at the top of each section. For example, if your education section includes multiple institutions, you would put the most recent one attended at the top. Similarly, in your relevant experience section, your most recent job or internship should be listed first.

US style resumes should be written in standard American English rather than British English. In terms of font, most US resumes are formatted in a classical font like Times New Roman, Garamond or Cambria. It is also important to have the right font size, with most resumes using 11-12 point font size; this way, you can include detailed information while also keeping the resume easily readable.

Final thoughts

Creating an effective US format resume will highlight your education, skills and experiences to US employers, and increase your chances as you apply to jobs, internships, or research projects. As you search for employment, Interstride’s portal can help you apply for jobs and internships that are hiring international students. Simply log in to have its resources available.