U.S. Resumes and Cover Letters for International Students

Dreama Johnson

A well-prepared resume and cover letter are essential to getting a job interview. For a U.S. job search, your resume and cover letter must conform to basic, generally accepted standards. The U.S. resume is succinct, including only information which is relevant to an employer's needs. Personal information is usually excluded. The resume is also limited to one page in most cases. The Career Center has several resources, which can assist you. Check out our web pages on Writing Resumes and Cover Letters.

Your resume should be free of spelling and grammatical errors. After you have developed a resume, bring it to the Career Center to have a career counselor review it with you. You should also have your cover letters reviewed by a counselor to ensure that the writing style, as well as, the content conforms to employers' expectations.

Remember, it is your responsibility to ease the concerns that employers may have about hiring you. This means you may need to provide the following information on your resume and/or cover letter while also highlighting the qualities that make you unique:


  • Test scores (TOEFL and/or SATs, particularly verbal or writing scores)
  • Writing and English courses completed
  • Descriptions highlighting your communication skills (where applicable):
    • “Translated written and spoken English daily for 2 years.”
    • “Tutored other international students in reading, writing and speaking English.”
    • “Gave 15 minute PowerPoint presentation on paper entitled “_____” before an audience of 50.”
  • Frame of reference for foreign employers and schools:
    • # 1 research institution in India
    • Second largest technology manufacturer in Europe
  • A $10 million marketing firm


  • International experience:
    • “Lived in Ghana for 10 years and U.K. for 7 years.”
    • “Traveled extensively throughout South and Latin America.”
    • “Developed a solid understanding and appreciation for Russian culture and customs.”
  • Language skills:
    • Fluent in English, native speaker of Chinese, and proficient in French