But send a document like a CV to a US employer and it will most likely end up getting rejected or put in the bin.

Compared to a CV, a résumé is more like a snapshot -- a brief and concise document that both presents and sells the specific skills and experiences you have that are relevant to the job /company for which you're applying.


CV versus Résumé

While both documents represent you as a professional, they differ on many counts. Using a US resume will increase your chances, while using a CV will decrease your chances. 

A résumé is designed to sell your relevant skill set and experiences to a particular employer. The goal of a CV is to present a complete overall picture of the breadth and depth of academic / professional experiences you have accumulated.

A CV can be any length (typically much longer than a resume).
But a résumé must be short -- never more than two pages, and many employers prefer it to be a single page.

The formatting of CV's is also quite distinct from that of résumés. Job and experience descriptions in a résumé should always be in a bulleted format, while descriptions of research and teaching on a CV are usually in long paragraph form.

The biggest difference is in the content. CV's may include lists of your publications, presentations, teaching experiences, honors, grants, hobbies, and dissertation abstracts. Very little of that should be included in a résumé.

We can't emphasize enough that on a résumé, you should include only those skills relevant to the job /company in question. That means removing lists of your publications, presentations, examinations passed, dissertation abstracts, etc. -- unless they have a direct bearing on the job for which you're applying. For example, in general you wouldn't include scholarly publications. However, if you're applying for a job where writing skills are paramount and the content of your publications is relevant, you can include select publications.

While CV's usually include a list of three to five references, résumés do not include such a list. You might want to type up that list as a separate document, however, and have it on hand during the interview should an employer express an interest in contacting your references.

Don't worry: Just because that information isn't on your résumé doesn't mean you can't use it to your advantage somewhere else down the line (especially at the interview stage).


Preparing to Create a Résumé

Whom do you want to employ and sponsor you in the USA ?
While there is no wrong or right way to position yourself on the job market, you can benefit by thinking critically about your audience of potential visa sponsoring employers.

How can you sell them on your experience and demonstrate that you are the best candidate for them ?

How can you make it easy for H1B sponsors to see your skills and value, and make them clearly understand what you can do to benefit them ?

Some of this is just common sense: If you're looking at Internet and technology-related job, highlight your computer and Web skills. If you want a job at a pharmaceutical company, focus on your laboratory experience. If you hope to become a professional writer, make certain employers see your experience as an editor and writer of intellectual content.


Drafting a Résumé

The résumé aesthetic can be boiled down to two words: readability and consistency. Your résumé should be easy to eye-scan and understand quickly. Help potential employers understand you by not making them work to puzzle out your background and skills.

Adhere to a consistent and eye-pleasing format. Use concise and accessible language. Put information in categories and be consistent -- in terms of style, format, and language -- within those categories.

Every résumé is different, depending on the circumstances of the job opening and your background relevant to that position. We do recommend making a first pass at a résumé and then asking someone in the professional resume field to look at your resume and provide a critique (or help you write it and improve it).


Now for a few 'basic' pointers to get you started on creating a US style resume.

Format:

  • Don't be shy; be noticed. Place your contact information at the top of the page (including your full Country telephone code if you're outside the USA).

  • Leave adequate white space and margins.

  • Eliminate articles ("a," "an," and "the") whenever possible. Remember, this document must be scannable.

  • Use emphasizers -- i.e., bold and italic typeface -- wisely and consistently, but sparingly.

Language:

  • Avoid academic jargon. Use everyday language wherever possible.

  • Describe your experience as concisely as possible. Sentence fragments are OK.

  • Use action verbs. Make sure tenses are consistent. Make sure there are NO US spelling or grammar mistakes.

Consistency and Categorization:

  • Use a bulleted list to indicate each of the key skills that you utilized or the most important responsibilities you had at a job.

  • In describing each of your previous positions, use no more than three to five bullets for each job.

  • Keep the order of your categories consistent. If you name the employer, then the position, location, and dates of employment, make sure you consistently do that in the same way for each one. If you have the employer's name in boldface type in the first entry, make sure you do that for all of the entries.

What Not to Do:

  • For the most part, including an objective statement at the top of your résumé or a short paragraph summarizing your experience is considered a dated approach. Still, there might be a few business fields where that is still a good idea. If required, seek professional help to clarify what is best for your profession and situation.

  • Do not reach back too far. What High School you attended and what activities you did there is not relevant in a resume, and work experience dating from 10-20 years ago warrants a short mention of the company name and position title but job descriptions and duties perfumed are not relevant.

  • Do not put personal information about your relationship status, date of birth, children, ethnic origin, religion, personal situation, or the like on your résumé or in your cover letter. If, however, you have relevant work experience with, for example, your church or synagogue, putting that type of information on your résumé is a personal call. If you decide to include it, make sure that you emphasize the skill or the work experience itself.

Final Thoughts

Looking at your multipage CV, it may seem impossible to reduce it to a one or two page résumé. You may feel sad about "cutting" all of your scholarly accomplishments, or frustrated that you can't communicate all of your skills and achievements.

It's important to remember, however, that the move from a CV to a Resume requires important changes and will help you achieve your goal.

Remember that some employers can and do simply throw away CV's (and résumés) if there are spelling and grammatical errors. So proofread your résumé, have someone else look it over, and then you proofread it again. Proofread it every time that you create a new version.

The important thing at this stage is not to let your past experiences actually get in the way of your future ones. To help you achieve your future in the USA, you need a clear, concise and powerful US resume that will get you considered by US employers.