How to get your RESUME in the YES pile

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So you want a career in international education. If I had a penny for every time I heard this … well, I’d have a lot of pennies! 😉

I bet you have extensive international experience, including studying, working, or volunteering abroad. Maybe you taught ESL in another country ,worked abroad on an expat assignment as part of your current job, and even volunteered in your international student or study abroad office on your college campus.  Now you want to work in international education, perhaps at a college/university, third party provider, for profit or otherwise.  You speak another language, have been to dozens of other countries, even paid someone to help you write your resume (whether through your college or graduate school services or through a private resume writing company).  You have submitted countless resumes to your international education dream jobs and anticipate the phone ringing off the hook.

But it doesn’t.  And you’re living at home while paying a school loan. Or you are in a job you detest and cannot find a way out fast enough. I get it, I really do. I’ve seen hundreds of cases like this and it is demoralizing and dehumanizing …and it simply hurts.

There IS a reason that your phone isn’t ringing, and in 99% of cases, it is how you are presenting yourself on paper (or digitally) in your resume. 

The reality is that a resume needs to be specific to international education and requires a format and approach that is going to get you past the HR machine (which is usually the first place your resume is “reviewed” – even if not by human eyes!) and then on to the HR representative and/or hiring committee.  Over my career working in study abroad and international student administration (as well as a Fortune 500 company HR consultant), I have sat on countless hiring committees and in interviews, and confidently know how to get your resume through the screening process. (My success rate in doing so is exceptionally high – at last count more than 88% who have been through my resume coaching have gotten interviews in international education dream jobs – many after months of hearing nothing but crickets after submitting countless resumes into the black hole of automated HR machines.)

Here are 3 of many tips I offer about the international education specific resume:

1)      A resume isn’t about passion and love for the field. (What?! Did you really just say this, Missy? You must be insane!) Ok, let’s talk about that. Why is passion not key when submitting your resume?  It is pretty simple: passion is not a keyword in an automated Human Resource machine review!  Keywords are integral to you getting in the door and we often fail to use the language in the posting that we are applying to, but instead we use the lingo from our past job descriptions or we give too little detail to show our skills related to the job.

2)      Your resume is too dang long. This one is controversial, but it is the case for 85% of the people that I have worked with as a resume coach that specializes in international education.  Jobs that are posted in international education typically pull in more than 130 resumes these days.  If your resume is more than a page (in most cases, although it depends on your experience), if it does get past the “machine” it will likely be skimmed, at best, by committee members as they are seeing stacks of resumes.   Your resume fails when it is not concise, doesn’t scream keywords germane to the position you’re applying for, and gives way too much information about what you’ve been doing that doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the precise needs of the hiring institution.  It also typically fails to highlight your “yellow scarf“. Less is usually more in a strategic international education resume. Just ask the countless people I’ve coached who call me to say they’re suddenly called for interviews because of the changes in their resume, which typically include making it SHORTER.

3)      International travelers are fun people, but their resumes can be downright boring.  If you only speak to what you have done on your resume in a linear fashion, you’re going to bore the heck out of the resume reader, even though you’d probably WOW them in person.  Resume writing for international education requires letting people know more about you than your job history, college activities, or academic degree – it requires sharing what interests you outside of the office. There is a clever way to address this and add keywords in your strategic international education resume…and I can show you how.

Many people who work (or have worked) in this inspiring and wild field of international education often share advice on to break into the field, but the field is changing daily and it requires those who coach on it to be fully invested in the latest information on trends in hiring. I’m excited that my background in Human Resources and Compensation through work and ongoing training in international relocation combined with my 20+ years of work as a college administrator (and now edupreneur) gives me the unique focus that has led to so many succeeding in their resume rewrites for international education – and has ultimately led to a rewarding and joyful career in the field.  I have not only been part of the hiring process for onboarding employees in international careers at a Fortune 500 company, I have done so at all types of colleges:  a community college, two 4 year private colleges, a 4 year public university – and have coached people through resume rewrites into positions ranging from International Student Advisor through Director of Study Abroad and International Student and Scholar Offices, as well as a fascinating range of positions in third party providers/partners and not for profits. There are different approaches to applying to each type of institution and providers – and I know how to crack the code to get in the door for the interview:  it all begins with the strategic international education resume.

Melibee Global has just updated our Resume Writing Tips for International Education (Job Seekers) tool – it includes not only the 100 minute webinar and resource guide (on demand!), but we have added 35 pages of before and after resumes samples, from real people, for those who sought work in international education.   These include people who recently graduated with a BA or MA, as well as those with some work experience. You can read more about it here – and I’m confident that it will affordably get you on the path to that dream job you’ve been searching for in international education, wehther you’re already in the field and seeking a change of venue or trying to break into the field for the first time.  I wish you much success and please do contact me if you have specific questions or would like more customized advice on a career path in international education.