Monday, March 19, 2012

Mix-Up Monday: Résumés

If you want to work in another country, you think about the big challenges you will face. Language, work permits, so on so on. Sometimes the smaller details slip by you. For example, who really spends much time thinking about the differences in formatting résumés in various countries? No one (until now!) unless they are applying for jobs and they got down to the part on the bottom of the application that says, "Please paste your résumé here or attach it as a word document."

For the most part, American and German résumés are the same. They are one of the only places in which you can brag about yourself and no one finds any fault in it. We are not going to go into small formatting details here...besides, everyone has their own view on how to properly format a résumé so a country-wide average is almost impossible to find. What we will discuss are the giant glaring differences which cause you to go WHHHHAAAAT??!!?? when you look at a résumé from the other country.

This what is the amount of (or lack thereof) personal information on a German versus American résumé.

In Germany, résumés contain not only the person's name but also their nationality, birth date, place of birth, and a photograph. Also, not as common but not uncommon on a German résumé includes marriage status and religion.

To an American, putting this information on a résumé is unimaginable. Yes, Americans often list their nationality (especially if there is some question of if they would be able to work in the USA), but the idea of a birth date, marriage status, and especially a photo is hard for an American to understand. The first time she found out she needed to change her résumé to fit this style she did feel some resistance. Do people really need to know what she looks like to decide if she will do a good job? Doesn't my year of graduation give you a big enough clue about my age that you do not need to come right out and ask for it?

Many Germans find it strange that it is illegal for interviewers to directly ask questions about age and marriage status in the USA. To them this information is not private and there is no problem with sharing it.

The argument between the two types of résumés is easy. Is there more or less discrimination depending on the format and information given? Does it make sense to share a picture right off the bat instead of losing the job at the interview, perhaps because of your looks? Should you not have a picture so at least you get the chance to prove yourself in an interview before being judge?

There is no real answer and it is definitely not something we will be getting into...we don't even fully agree with each other when it comes to personal information on résumés. What is important is to realize that every country is a bit different, and as much or as little as you agree with the style, if you are going to work in that country you have to be willing to conform.

1 comment:

  1. I am reading a bunch of resumes at work and someone applied with a resume like the ones you describe from Germany, I saw it and immediately thought of this post!