The Workplace Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for members of the workforce navigating the professional setting. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am helping a friend who has limited English skills to prepare a resume for mostly general labor jobs (e.g. cleaning/maintenance of apartments).

Do I 'dumb down' the resume so it seems like it was prepared by the limited English speaker or do I indicate that he/she received help preparing it? It seems like a happy medium between these two is warranted but I definitely need some direction to what I should do.

I am a bit worried about creating too strong of a resume so the employer has higher expectations for the candidate than they should.

share|improve this question
Do professional resume writing services put a disclaimer? I don't think you need one. – user606723 Jun 18 '12 at 18:13
up vote 25 down vote accepted

I think the best option is just to make sure that it is your friend who actually writes the CV, not you. That way you don't need any form of disclaimer.

He or she will need to be able to explain anything and everything on that CV to a potential employer, so needs to understand it. In an interview there would be few things worse than blank look response to a "What did you mean by ..." question.

If there are problems with the grammar or spelling, explain what the problems are and how to fix them, but make sure your friend actually fixes them. Encourage him or her to ask questions and talk to them about what Employers in your area like and dislike, what they expect and what they abhor.

It will be frustrating, time consuming and could strain your relationship, but it could also end up strengthening your friendship immensely and will almost certainly help them to improve their English language skills.

share|improve this answer

The job of a resume is to get you into the door and get the employer to focus on the things you want the employer to focus on.

The resume should be easy for the employer to read but your friend needs to be able to speak to and answer questions about that resume. If your friend is not a good at writing English but can speak at least passably then providing a well written resume may help bridge the gap between the employer and your friend and help him get the position.

If reading and writing English is an important part of the position then the employer should make sure that your friend can do so at least to the point of being able to perform the job function. But your friend will need to be able to read at the level the job requires in order to perform well in the position.

share|improve this answer
@Ramhound - Actually if having the ability to write is important it would be the job of the employer to filter out those candidates that do not meet that requirement. The resume's purpose is to get you the interview. I would not want to get a position that I was not able to complete since it would lead to a miserable job experience but if someone wants a job that requires the ability to write and they can not write... putting on the resume you can not write is not going to help you get that interview. – Chad Jun 19 '12 at 13:56

It is very common, even recommended, to get help writing a resume. It's even common in some places to have community centres that will help you write a resume and loan you a clean suit for an interview.

Because of that, and because your friend is technically (at least partially) multi-lingual, there should be a languages section on the resume. Something of the format:

[Language]: [Proficiency]

... where the proficiency would indicate whether they're proficient, vocational, limited and possibly listing any language certification. e.g.

English: Proficient, native
French: Proficient, IELTS Level whatever
Spanish: Limited
share|improve this answer
I completely agree if English is primary language in the US, English/French in Canada. French in France, German in Germany etc... Listing native in anything other than the dominant language as your native risks your resume of being discarded for bias. I am not saying it is right just real. – Chad Jun 18 '12 at 20:39

This is why you have a cover letter in addition to a CV. The cover letter is one page (and one page only) where a candidate can tell an employer about themselves. The cover letter is an opportunity to fill in any gaps which cannot be expressed in the CV/resume format. It is also an indirect means to demonstrate communication skills.

In this case, the candidate can talk about his background and how he has learned to communicate in another language, how he has learned to ask for help with his new language, and write the letter himself to demonstrate competency.

share|improve this answer
It should be said that if you have to help your friend with the cover letter you should. Clearly it should be their own words but the grammar must be correct. Otherwise it will be trashed. – Ramhound Jun 19 '12 at 13:22

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.