With members of GatedTalent in more than 100 countries, one of the questions I’m often asked related to international differences in the executive recruiting process – of which there are many. I sat down with Career Coach Tim Windhof – who has lived, studied, and worked in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and the U.S. to understand better how resumes differ around the World. We have a number of “on demand” webinars hosted by Tim inside the GatedTalent platform.
(1) An Executive Resume & Biography are both internationally recognized documents. However, expectations vary by region. Can you discuss some of the key differences?
Tim: The resume is the document that varies more in content and layout across geographic regions than the bio. The bio is really more about your personal story and a quick overview whereas the resume requires customization for particular employment markets. Key differences are typically resume lengths, content, and even style of language.
(2) So then what are some differences in resume length and what length do you generally advice?
Tim: With executive and C-level resumes you can see anything between 2 and 5 pages. Australia seems to have the longest resume formats I have come across, whereas the US style, with just 2 or 3 pages for C-level candidates, is among the shortest formats on a global scale. I find most European and Asian resumes to be in middle of that range. If in doubt, I generally recommend to go with the shortest possible version as long as you are still able to clearly communicate your unique value and achievements. I have not yet come across international executive recruiter feedback that a resume should be longer. Usually quite the contrary.
(3) What about using a profile picture on your resume? Is that a good idea?
Tim: This will depend on your specific geographic region and target company and might require some research on your end to make sure that you are aligned with local customs and requirements. If you are targeting countries where profile pictures are a standard (e.g. some Western European countries), you have to make sure that you include a high-quality head-shot with neutral background. Proper picture positioning and cropping are also key to make a great first impression in such scenario.
(4) Have you seen “aesthetic” difference of the document, e.g. regarding styles?
Tim: Absolutely. While the differences are not as big as they once used to be, “aesthetic” perceptions and standards do still differ. In the US, for example, formatting and layout tend to be very “tight and dense.” This style might look very crowded and cramped to Europe and Asia based recruiters who are used to see more generous layouts in terms of white-space utilization.
(5) Are there differences by Industry, Seniority or Function?
Tim: Yes, there certainly are. The legal, banking, and financing fields typically prefer very conservative and “down to earth” formats. Color elements and visual document enhancements should be used sparingly when targeting such industries. And yes, there should also be a difference regarding seniority and function. If you are a regional VP and your resume is twice as long as the documents of the COO you would be reporting to, then that can be problematic.
I would like to thank Tim Windhof for his insights on how international resumes vary, I would also encourage anyone to take a look at Tim's webinar sessions we have available here: https://www.gatedtalent.com/webinars/
Tim Windhof is a certified executive résumé writer and international career coach who specializes in executive level career advancement. Tim is a Member of the Forbes Coaches Council and one of only 30 Certified Executive Resume Masters worldwide. Tim has lived, studied, and worked in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and the U.S. He utilizes his cross-cultural knowledge to work with international résumé and coaching clients from around the globe. You can read more about Tim’s credentials and career services on his website: https://www.windhofcareers.com/
I generally recommend to go with the shortest possible version as long as you are still able to clearly communicate your unique value and achievements. I have not yet come across international executive recruiter feedback that a resume should be longer. Usually quite the contrary.