Are you looking for work in the US or Canada? A few adjustments to your CV can dramatically improve your chances of landing a job there.
Fine-tuning your UK CV to an American-style resume is essential when applying for jobs in the US. It demonstrates your understanding of local expectations and increases your chances of standing out to potential employers.
By adjusting your CV to fit the American format, structure, and language norms, you’ll better communicate your qualifications in a way that resonates with American employers.
Working abroad can be exciting and life-changing, but success means taking the local customs into account. If you’re unfamiliar with US hiring practices, contact our career counselling service for help and advice fine-tuning your CV or any other questions you have on the US job market.
We’ve helped thousands of people succeed in their job search and are here to help you. Contact us about anything from CV building and design to interview prep, contract negotiations, and any other questions you have about reaching your career goals.
Example of an American resume
This resume effectively presents the applicant's experience, achievements, technical skills, and educational qualifications. It showcases their ability to lead, drive results, and contribute to the success of organisations in project and product management roles.
Each section has positive aspects that contribute to the resume’s overall strength:
The summary concisely overviews the candidate's qualifications as a result-oriented product team leader. It highlights their eagerness to learn, attention to detail, adaptability to changing requirements, and ability to thrive in a fast-paced environment.
Each professional experience section demonstrates the candidate's significant contributions and achievements in their respective roles. The sections highlight their leadership, collaboration, problem-solving skills, and ability to optimise processes to generate revenue and enhance efficiency.
This section includes action verbs and measurable results to emphasise the candidate’s accomplishments, including cost savings, exceeding performance targets, and business generation. It establishes their ability to make a substantial impact, innovate, and drive business growth.
This section highlights the candidate's proficiency in project and product management-relevant tools and technologies. It demonstrates their ability to effectively apply these hard skills and their drive to stay updated with industry-standard practices.
The education section showcases the candidate's strong educational background with undergraduate and graduate degrees from a prestigious university. It adds credibility to their work expertise and suggests a strong foundation in problem-solving, critical thinking, and theoretical knowledge.
The difference between a British CV and an American resume
There’s a difference in terminology about job applications between us in the UK and folks in the US. What we refer to as a “CV” (Curriculum Vitae, Latin for "course of one's life" ) is usually called a "resume" by our American counterparts.
A British CV and an American resume are both used when applying for jobs. But they have some differences.
A CV is a document that presents a comprehensive overview of a person’s qualifications, work experience, and skills when applying for jobs. While similar, a US resume is often a more concise document and typically summarises an applicant’s qualifications in reverse chronological order.
Here's a more specific breakdown of the differences between a UK CV compared to an American resume, including length, content, and purpose:
A UK CV tends to be longer, often multiple pages. This length allows you to include detailed background information, including extensive descriptions of education, work experience, and other relevant information.
In contrast, an American resume is typically shorter, usually limited to one and rarely up to two pages. Keeping to this length requires concise, focused information highlighting the most relevant qualifications and achievements.
A UK CV includes comprehensive details such as
- personal information,
- contact details,
- personal statement or objective,
- education history - including specific courses and grades,
- work experience - including job titles, responsibilities, and achievements,
- and references.
An American resume prioritises relevant work experience, skills, and achievements directly related to the job you’re applying for. It typically includes sections such as
- contact information,
- a professional summary or objective statement,
- work experience - with concise bullet points highlighting responsibilities and accomplishments,
- skills - including technical and transferable skills,
- relevant certifications,
- and sometimes professional affiliations.
The purpose of a UK CV is to provide an employer with a comprehensive profile of your qualifications and experiences. The aim is to demonstrate the range of your capabilities, suitability for various positions, and a detailed overview of your academic and professional background.
An American resume quickly showcases your qualifications to grab a potential employer's attention and demonstrate your fit for the specific role they’re seeking to fill. It focuses on relevant skills, accomplishments, and work experience directly applicable to the targeted position.
Remember that while these differences generally hold true, there can be variations in expectations and preferences among UK and US employers. It’s important to research the company where you’re applying to understand their expectations.
Essential elements of an American resume
Although American resumes should always be tailored to the specific job you’re targeting, there are several essential sections to include. When reviewing your application, an American employer will expect to see the following components:
Your name, address, phone number, and email address so employers can easily contact you.
A concise statement outlining your career goals, skills, and qualifications, giving employers a quick overview of your suitability for the position.
Details of your relevant past employment, including job titles, company names, dates worked, and a brief description of your responsibilities and accomplishments in each role.
Information about your academic history, including degrees earned, institutions attended, relevant coursework, seminars, projects or other education.
A list of your relevant skills, including technical abilities, languages, software proficiency, and transferable skills that apply to the job.
Certifications and Licenses (if applicable)
Any professional certifications or licenses you have that showcase additional qualifications and expertise.
Publications and Presentations (for academic or high-level jobs)
A list of any research publications, academic papers, or conference presentations you’ve authored or presented demonstrating expertise in your field.
Professional Affiliations (if applicable)
Membership in relevant professional organisations or associations, establishing your involvement and dedication to your industry.
References: Available upon request
References are not typically included on a resume. Still, an indication that you can provide references if the employer requests them usually is.
Formatting an American CV
There are also a few common formatting expectations to bear in mind for an effective American resume.
Keep your resume concise and focused to ensure an employer doesn’t consider it overly lengthy. One page is appropriate for most jobs, but two is acceptable for more professional ones.
Use bullet points to concisely present information, making it easy for employers to scan and grasp key details and achievements quickly.
Font selection and size
Choose a professional and legible font, such as Arial, Times New Roman, or Calibri, set at around 11 or 12 points to ensure readability and maintain a polished appearance.
Margins and spacing
Maintain consistent margins of about 1 inch in your resume layout and ensure appropriate line spacing to enhance readability. Whitespace is crucial for a well-structured and visually appealing resume.
Headings and subheadings
Use headings and subheadings to organise different sections and create a logical flow through the document. This makes it easier for employers to navigate and locate specific information.
Cultural differences to consider
American employers exhibit distinct cultural differences from their UK counterparts. Consider these differences to increase your chances of success in the competitive US job market.
Brevity and specificity
American resumes prioritise concise, specific information that’s impactful and focused on the most relevant aspects to capture potential employers' attention quickly. It's crucial to highlight key achievements, skills, and experiences relevant to the job, avoiding unnecessary details or lengthy descriptions.
American resumes typically don’t include personal information, such as a photograph, date of birth, or marital status, to meet US privacy laws and equal opportunity employment practices. Resumes focus solely on professional qualifications to ensure fair evaluation based on merit rather than personal characteristics.
Adopting American English spelling (e.g., "organisation" instead of "organisation") and wording (e.g., "resume" instead of "CV") is important when crafting an American resume. Using American English consistently will improve clarity and reduce misunderstandings.
Attitude and tone
American resumes often employ a more assertive and self-promoting tone than British CVs. While humility is appreciated, confidently showcasing achievements, skills, and experiences to sell yourself is crucial.
The norm is to use strong action verbs, include measurable results, and emphasise the value you’ll bring to an organisation. This will meet American employers’ expectations and make a positive impression on them.
Tips for adapting a British CV to an American CV
It may seem like there’s a lot to consider to adjust your CV to an American resume, so we’ve boiled it down to the key points. Follow these simple tips to meet American employers’ expectations.
Translate British qualifications to American equivalents
Convert your British qualifications into American equivalents to help employers better understand your professional and educational background. Research the equivalency of degrees, certifications, and qualifications to describe them in the American format accurately.
Adapt language and tone
Adjust the language and tone of your CV to align with American norms. Use American English spellings, grammar conventions, and vocabulary. Present yourself confidently and assertively, highlighting accomplishments and skills relevant to the American job market.
Adjust content to meet US values
Tailor your resume to emphasise skills and experiences valued in the American context. Research industry-specific requirements and job descriptions to identify the sought-after skills and adapt your CV accordingly.
Showcase accomplishments, leadership roles, and quantifiable results to demonstrate your ability to contribute to the organisation. Self-promotion and confidence are considered assets, and being too humble can keep you out of the running.
- British CVs and American resumes are similar but with a few crucial differences.
- Resumes tend to be shorter, more concise, and job-targeted documents than CVs.
- Convert British spelling, terminology, and qualifications to their American equivalents.
- Self-promotion and confident language are expected on a resume.
- Follow the expected formatting rules to ensure your resume is well-received.
Establishing yourself in a new country can feel overwhelming, but we can help you transition to a new career in the US. Contact our career counselling service for help writing your American resume or any other career-related questions you have.
We’ve helped thousands of people succeed in their job search and are here to help you. Contact us about anything from CV writing and design to interview prep, contract negotiations, and any other questions you have about reaching your career goals.