Include international experience on your resume: Samples, mistakes & Tips

Include foreign experience in your resume: Patterns, mistakes & tips

Those who have spent some time abroad often have a better chance when applying for a job. Employers value the cultural competencies acquired as well as the often greater personal maturity of candidates who have gained new experiences in other countries.

For applicants with experience abroad, it is important to indicate it optimally in the resume. In our guide, you will find sample phrases as well as tips on the right way to proceed – and a decision-making aid on which experiences are relevant and which are better omitted.

Why experience abroad is a plus point in a job application?

For most employers, it is a plus point if a candidate has been abroad. Anyone who has done volunteer work or an internship, for example, has shown that he or she has not only taken on new challenges, but has also mastered them.

He has probably improved his language skills, but has also learned more personally. Spending time abroad also strengthens an applicant's social skills. The candidate tends to be more open to new people and situations, possibly curious and probably flexible.

For younger applicants, experience abroad indicates a certain maturity and independence, which is also an advantage when applying for a job. In short: Employers have predominantly positive associations when it comes to applicants' stays abroad. For example, someone who has done an internship or even a job in another country can benefit from this when applying for a job. However, not all experience abroad is automatically relevant for an application.

What experience is of interest to potential employers?

Before mentioning experience abroad on a resume, applicants should think carefully: Is this experience really of interest to the company to which I am applying? Can the decision-makers draw positive conclusions from this about my suitability for the vacant position?? Only if the answer is clearly 'yes' should the experience abroad be mentioned in the resume.

In principle, suitable experiences are those where the candidate has spent a longer period abroad and can be expected to have grown personally as a result. Also relevant are experiences that have something to do with the desired position in terms of content. As a rule, therefore, jobs and internships abroad, experience as an au pair, working as part of a work&life program, etc. should be mentioned Travel, semester abroad, volunteer work, as well as language travel.

Pure vacations abroad, on the other hand, are generally not worth mentioning – unless you were really away for a longer period of time and have demonstrably gained new skills or important experience. But then you should also present it accordingly.

Experienced applicants should pay attention to how long ago the experience abroad took place. Depending on its relevance, it may be appropriate to mention it even years later, or to omit it because it is simply no longer crucial. An internship abroad is relevant even longer than a student exchange or a language course. Ultimately, it also depends on the industry in which an applicant works which international experience is a nice bonus or an essential qualification.

Properly indicate international experience on a resume

Once you have decided which experiences abroad are relevant for an application, it is a question of how to present these stations in the best possible way in your CV. The main question here is where the experience abroad is best placed – as a separate category or in the midst of other experiences in an existing category? It depends.

On the one hand, it is possible to mention the experience abroad in a separate section. This is particularly useful if you have had several periods of experience abroad. On the other hand, the experience in question can also be integrated into existing categories. Those who have done an internship abroad, for example, can describe this experience under the heading "Work experience" or, for those just starting out in their careers, under the heading "Practical experience".

Depending on what experience it is, it may also be good to include in your own education record or in the "Other Knowledge and Experience" category. Even when mentioning one's own language skills, the experience abroad can be mentioned additionally.

Experience abroad in the curriculum vitae: tips on formulation

Tip: Concrete designs for the resume can also be found here: Resume sample.

In principle, experiences abroad are structured and described in the same way as other experiences in the curriculum vitae. This means that applicants should indicate the period of experience. It is noted as usual on the left side of the page. Next, the position or experience is named, such as "internship at…" or "worked as an au pair". Now specify the facility or setting where you had the experience.

If the experience abroad seems very important or it is a professional experience, examples of activities can also be given. This would be recommended for a job or internship abroad, for example. In this way, the potential employer can see more clearly how this experience qualifies the applicant.

This is what mentioning a foreign experience on your resume might look like:

  • "02/2018 – 02/2019: Working as an au pair, Boston (MA), USA"
  • "06/2017 – 08/2017: Internship at [company], Boston, USA"
  • "06/2017: Student exchange to Cambridge, England"
  • "05/2018 – 10/2018: Work& Travel in Australia"
  • "04/2017 – 06/2017: Internship as [designation] at [company], Paris. Focal points: [example], [example], [example]"

Provide proof of international experience?

For applicants, there is also the question of whether experience abroad that is mentioned in the resume should also be supported by evidence in the attachments. Must the language course be proven by a certificate? What about student exchanges, time as an au pair?

Again, it depends on what experience it is and how important it is. A student exchange does not usually need to be documented with appropriate evidence. This usually also applies to activities as an au pair or work& Travel. However, the more relevant the experience, the more likely it should be evidenced in the attachments to the application.

If you have done an internship abroad, you may not have any proof of it. This also applies to applicants who have worked in other countries. This is due to the fact that in many other countries it is not common to issue job references. In the Anglo-Saxon area, references are more or less common. Then the contact details of a reference are listed in the CV. An interested employer will then inquire personally about the applicant's qualities; written verification is not required.

However, if references from internships or jobs abroad are available, they should be attached to the application – unless the experience is of little relevance or happened a long time ago.

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