This is the second piece in a 4-part series about how Indians can better position themselves to earn an interview and secure employment at an American firm. To read about why Indians love working at American firms, click here.
Over one million Indians work for American firms. This number will increase over time, as American firms seek talented workers as part of a wider push to diversify their workforce. But with all of the benefits that come with working for a foreign firm – from professional development opportunities to strong corporate culture, employment and cultural nuances may require an adjustment period for some Indian employees. With help from the employer, this is something that can be quickly navigated through.
At MPOWER Financing, we see this through multiple lenses. First, as a U.S.-based firm, we have a large, diverse, and growing team in Bengaluru – and have worked hard to foster a strong work environment amidst rising inflation and Covid-induced challenges. Second, as the leading provider of no-cosigner study abroad loans to Indian students, we also want our students to be successful in the workplace, so we invest in their professional development through our Path2Success program.
This 4-part series will provide our views on how Indians can better position themselves to interview and secure employment at a U.S. firm, and will draw on our experiences of recruiting new teammates and helping our students enter the U.S. workforce. This second part in the series will discuss five tips to format your resume for international eyes.
Start with the Basics
There is an accepted standard of presenting work experience and education in reverse chronological order – which means beginning with the most recent experience at the top. Those who are currently in school should present the “Education” section of their resume ahead of the “Work” section – and the reverse for those who are currently employed.
Use a standard template, like those available from Microsoft Word or that are freely available on the internet. Proper formatting can make your resume much more attractive to the reader, while errors like inconsistent font and spelling mistakes are easily avoidable red flags. Importantly, ensure that your resume is not too crowded: White space makes it easier to read and makes key points jump out clearly. This is where brevity helps considerably.
“If I Had More Time, I Would Have Written a Shorter Letter”
We recommend sticking with a one-page resume, or two pages at maximum. Students and early-stage professionals should be able to easily condense all relevant information about their education and professional experience onto a single page. Later-stage professionals can justify a second page, but should do so only sparingly. We often see candidates submit five-page resumes,which are unnecessary. Unless you are an accomplished author or researcher wishing to present a long list of publications, this is generally unhelpful.
Why is this important? Numerous studies show that recruiters look at resumes for about 7 seconds. This means that strong candidates are precise with their word choice and make their points crisply and clearly using as few bullet points and words as possible. Being able to clearly and concisely describe your roles and responsibilities also lets you space your bullets in a manner that is more attractive to the reader. Make sure that those bullets speak directly to the role for which you are applying – meaning that a resume for one position may highlight different skills, education, and experience than a resume for another position.
Quantify your Accomplishments
So what should you actually say about your work experience? Be clear about your role at previous firms and focus on quantifiable accomplishments that you and your team achieved. We like the following examples:
Why do we like these? They begin with an action verb (improved, developed, directed) and clearly quantify the impact of the candidate’s efforts. They are also crisply written and could likely fit on a single line on your resume.
WTA (Watch the Acronyms)
Don’t assume that a foreign audience will be familiar with acronyms, credentials, or the GPA your school uses. An Indian professional may know that Tata Consulting Services is commonly abbreviated as TCS, but your American recruiter may not.
Similarly, consider briefly describing your school or firms on your resume in the following way:
Keep it (Im)personal
Any personal data – including, but not limited to: age/date of birth, marital status, gender, children/parents, religion, Aadhar/PAN – should be removed. While some Indian firms may ask these questions during an interview, foreign employers are often forbidden from considering these factors in making employment decisions..
On the other hand, feel free to include one line about your hobbies, interests, and volunteer activities. This could be welcomed and perhaps give your interviewer something to discuss with you at the beginning of the interview. Relevant volunteerism is particularly welcome when interviewing at a mission-oriented firm: At MPOWER Financing, for example, we love seeing any effort to tutor or mentor students.
These five tips will make your resume more attractive and accessible to foreign eyes. But of course, getting past a resume screening is only the first step to securing a job with an American employer. In the next part of this series, we’ll discuss a few interviewing tips.
DISCLAIMER – Subject to credit approval, loans are made by Bank of Lake Mills or MPOWER Financing, PBC. Bank of Lake Mills does not have an ownership interest in MPOWER Financing. Neither MPOWER Financing nor Bank of Lake Mills is affiliated with the school you attended or are attending. Bank of Lake Mills is Member FDIC. None of the information contained in this website constitutes a recommendation, solicitation or offer by MPOWER Financing or its affiliates to buy or sell any securities or other financial instruments or other assets or provide any investment advice or service.
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