Career Tips for International Students

5 [Resume Mistakes] International Students Must Avoid


Why do you need a resume?

It’s a career branding tool that shows recruiters who you are. The purpose of a resume is to make recruiters want to learn more about you and get you an interview. 

One biggest mistake that I’ve seen on several job candidates’ resume is that it loses focus and a career brand.

Many job candidates treat a resume like a fact sheet of your work and education history – don’t do that!

Please treat your resume like your marketing material. A material that helps promote your brand to your target employers. 

While all resumes share the same basic elements—such as contact information, education, experience, and skills—the winning ones avoid the following mistakes. As an international student, make sure you understand what to avoid when writing your U.S resume.

1. Your personal information and photo:

Don’t include anything beyond your physical address, email address, cell phone number, and the URL to your LinkedIn profile. That means you shouldn’t include your marital status, age, religion, and anything else of a personal nature. This information will only distract employers from your key messages and open the door to unnecessary prejudices. On top of that, your photo might send your resume to the trash since ATS can’t understand the format.

2. Irrelevant experience:

The key to a strong resume? “Less is More.” Do not include experience If all of your past jobs are relevant but located in your home country, leave out their location in your resume.

3. Mentioning work authorization:

You might want to be straightforward about your visa status, but some employers are hesitant to hire international students and are not willing to go through the sponsorship procedure. They might just turn your resume down without considering your ability and potential. Do not mention work authorization in your resume or during interviews. You are authorized to work with your CPT and OPT. Just use them and do not bring up the H1B requirement until you have landed a job.

4. Typos and grammar mistakes:

First, make sure you use past simple tense for all past jobs and present simple tense for your current job. Try to construct grammatically correct sentences. You might want to go to your school’s career management center or writing center or hire a professional editor to proofread your resume, before uploading it.

5. ATS-incompatible formatting:

I’m skipping the basic things about formatting as I believe that you can learn those techniques from your school. I’d like to focus on something that’s pretty unique to the US job market. Have you heard about the ATS?

90% of Fortune 500 companies use an Applicant Tracking System or ATS as part of their recruiting strategy. When you applied for jobs online with a format that’s incompatible with ATS – an Applicant Tracking System.

Some ATS will reject those resumes! I have a checklist for you to help you build an ATS-friendly resume.

Need help to find out whether your Resume is ATS-compliant? Download the ATS checklist below:

ATS-Resume-Online-Application | ICAway | Kwan Segal

Download the ATS Checklist:

I have a checklist for you to help you build an ATS-friendly resume.

Please fill out the form and I will send the checklist to your email.

These are just a few basic points that you should know when applying for jobs online. Please remember, humans give humans a job. The robot like ATS just passed along your resume through a traditional job application process. It does not guarantee a job interview or a job offer.

Always have your career goal and build your career brand on your resume.

After building a solid brand on your resume, don’t stop! Go beyond your resume by putting your brand that on other channels like

  • your LinkedIn
  • your email signature
  • your e-Portfolio
  • Your business card (when the pandemic is over! )

Wishing you all lots of success with your job search!

Coach Kwan