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International Student's Job Search: Tips and Terms


If you are an international student looking for a job in the United States, it is important to understand what specific job search terms mean in the United States as opposed to in your home country in order to be able to meet a prospective employer’s expectations. Listed below are some key terms that you will frequently hear while conducting a job search as well as important tips for creating a resume in the United States.

Contributors:Tony Cimasko
Last Edited: 2010-04-25 08:50:00

Key Terms

You may encounter other terms as well, but, in general, these are the basic terms you will hear employers using in the United States. By understanding these key terms and what American companies expect on a resume, you can insure that you and your potential employer understand each other.

A resume is a personal summary of your professional history and qualifications. It includes information about your career goals, education, work experience, activities, honors, and any special skills you might have. A resume written for an entry-level position should not be over one page long.

For more information on writing a resume, see our other resources on employment documents:

Curriculum Vitae (CV, Vitae, or Vita)
Also known as a CV, Vitae, or Vita, in the United States a Curriculum Vitae is a detailed listing of your educational achievements, publications, presentations, professional activities and honors. Usually the vita does not include an objective statement, and formatting for the vitae varies by career. The curriculum vitae is longer than the resume; it is generally two pages or more. They are most often necessary only if you are seeking a faculty, research, clinical or scientific position. Click here to learn more about Writing a Curriculum Vitae.

Scannable Resume
A scannable resume is a resume that can be scanned into a database. More and more companies are using this type of resume since it eliminates paperwork and cuts operating costs. The format of a scannable resume is different from a traditional resume in order to insure proper scanning. The content, however, is generally the same, although there is a greater focus on using nouns rather than verbs to describe your accomplishments.

For more information on creating a scannable resume, you can read our handout on the subject, or download and view a PowerPoint presentation about scannable resumes.

Cover Letter (Job Application Letter)
Also known as a Job Application Letter, a cover letter is a business letter written to a prospective employer to express your interest in and qualifications for a position. It accompanies your resume and serves as an introduction to your resume. The cover letter also allows you to expand on certain points that could only be mentioned in the resume.

For more information about cover letters, visit our handout on cover letters or our handout on academic cover letters.

Resume Tips for International Students

Below are some tips about creating resumes and searching for jobs in the United States.

A Note on Your Job Search

The Education Section of Your Resume

Your Employment Status

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