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In today's Global Marketplace, many companies are looking for employees with "International Experience".

If you have worked overseas, the company description will show what country the company was located in, for instance:

Acme Widgets

Junvember 2020 - Marchtober 2027

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

For jobs where there were many overseas business trips, how should that experience be listed?

For instance, as a subset of a job description (which will break up the list of countries if you have international experience spanning multiple jobs):

Led sales visits to Laos, Cambodia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan

Or as a section in skills next to languages (which will disassociate the country from the job you visited it for):

Experienced with business in Laos, Cambodia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan

The goal is to show that while you were stationed in country X, you also conducted business with countries A, B, and C. As a company looking for global staff (or a successful applicant with international experience to a company looking for global staff), what method works for you (not limited to the examples above)?

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    I'm not sure why this is collecting close votes, it seems clear that you are asking how to show that certain work was international, which seems both clear and on-topic. Close voters, would you mind dropping into The Workplace Chat and perhaps clarifying? – Rhys Jun 28 '13 at 8:09
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+250

This is a great question. I have reviewed resumés where people want to be considered for international assignments but bury this sort of experience hopelessly.

Does your title have "International" or "Global" in it? Change the focus from company to title.

International Sales Director

Acme Widgets, Podunkville USA

  • Managed global sales team in Laos, Cambodia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan to sell X widgets/per year
  • Led international development team for implementing technology yyyy (50% international travel)
  • Worked with international team to develop Z

Either way, you want to highlight the international experience so it's immediately obvious to someone skimming your resumé, a title really helps with this, but even phrasing bullets such as the above can make it clear it was an assignment with considerable international experience.

If you don't have as easy as a title, make sure you put this information where your eyes naturally go when skimming a resume. Don't bury it in the middle of paragraphs, etc.


This question has made me rethink how I list similar experiences on my own resumé, wonderful!

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What an interesting question!

I'll throw some ideas out there, in the interest of broadening the answer field, but I admit, international experience is not my forte.

Start with the Job

I think that "international experience" is broad enough that you want to make sure you are tuning the resume to fit the type of job you're thinking of, and pursuing jobs that fit your goals, first off. For example, International Work could include:

  • The ability and willingness to relocated permanently or semi-permanently
  • Willingness to do intense travel for long periods
  • Fluency in languages
  • Comfort working with foreign cultures
  • Awareness of international laws and regulations
  • Experience and vision for a global marketplace

Not every international job is right for a person, nor is a person with international experience right for any job. I'd start with the position, and make sure to highlight from there.

General Resume Format & Tuning

Generally applications include:

  • a cover letter
  • education & skills section
  • experience

And I think you can highlight international compatibility in any of them.

The Cover Letter can certainly cover your interest and willingness to do travel and relocation.

The Skills/Education could and should include:

  • foriegn languages
  • international education
  • certification/accreditation in international credentials and organizations

And then the experience section can highligh your international impact. I don't want steal entirely from Enderland's answer, but that's the perfect example.

Sum It Up

I think it's particularly important to figure out the key points and sum up. Doing a thoughtless listing of international bullet points is as unlikely to yeild results as any other thoughtless listing. The experience section is always open ended, so how you write it and how the reader interprets that writing are key.

I would think the following guidelines would be a place to start:

  • Highlight work with a single country or collection of countries when the experience is deep, summarize when the experience is broad - ie, "Was the account manager for all India-based accounts" or "Was the regional account manager for all of SE Asia"
  • Show an awareness of using the international market to its advantage - if you've basically done the same steps in each location, it hardly matters that it was international - highlight areas where an understanding of the uniqueness of each locale really mattered and where you can speak to victories in the interview
  • Clarify the nature of the contact - if you regularly traveled before, the assumption is that you will again - find a way to drop it in there. "Did XYZ through regular remote communication and a series of monthly on location meetings"
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The first emphasis needs to be on what you did, then on where you did it. What were you selling, in the cases above, and who was it for? Were you selling soda pop or fighter planes?

I heard the following story from a work associate: he was invited to work in the Ukraine for a year, this in the mid 1990s after the Berlin Wall fell. They would pay him in a 'freight car load of steel' delivered to Germany. In short, they didn't have cash, so they would pay him in whatever they could get for a fixed quantity of goods at the loading dock of the customer. If your activities involved such trades, particularly if they turned out successfully, there are people that would find that interesting.

'Experienced with business' is too vague. It might be a euphemism for dealing with corrupt officials, and as such might raise alarms. Where you a buyer, a seller, or both? What were you trading, and who was/were your counterparty(ies)? In small countries one is often dealing with the someone very senior in the government, this particularly true in Laos.

One of the ways people will know you're real is by explaining how money was moved around for payment, letters of credit, etc.

  • I understand that what I did is more important (and have no intention in leaving it off). The question I want to ask is what is the most effective way to point out that you've dealt with business in many different countries/cultures/languages? Regardless of whether I was selling fighter planes or soda pop, knowing how to do business in the Ukraine is a skill that can be applied to other areas. I want to know how best to represent that skill on a resume (just as I would want to appropriately list languages on my resume). – jmac Jun 28 '13 at 5:11
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My first thought is to use a table.

enter image description here

I like tables in resumes because they make things easy for the reader, by communicating structured data clearly. With free text, the person who reads the resume has to do some extra work to parse the text and then build an overall picture of the structure and how the data fits within it.

There is some flexibility about the kind of data you can place in cells, and obviously my example isn't prescriptive (you could for example list the company you worked for in each base country). There are also some reasons why a table might not work, e.g. there are lots of countries you visited over all your bases, but you only visited a few from each base country.

  • This would be great if you worked for a single company doing the same job with different assignments. Not so great if you shifted jobs, positions, or don't have a simple aggregate thing (like sales volume) to put in the table. – jmac Jul 4 '13 at 23:46
  • @jmac OK, just to be clear, I meant one table for the whole resume, not one table per job. As I trivial example, I use a table on mine to list my education: dates, institutions, grades etc. I wasn't sure whether a table would be suitable in your case. Without getting a much better feel for how your data is, I find it hard to help. – TooTone Jul 5 '13 at 8:30
  • Yes, but if I've been doing different international-related jobs, a single table would be tough to throw together. Let's say I worked in Country A for the past 10 years, but my first job was supply chain management for the middle east, the second was b2b sales for Europe, and the third was door-to-door fundraising in Micronesia, how am I going to throw that together as more than an, "I've been these places" sort of thing? – jmac Jul 5 '13 at 8:37
  • @jmac I can see if e.g. you're in different continents for each job it would be difficult to do because the table ends up being sparse. I would have kept separate sections for each job as well as a summary table, but you might run out of room (you're looking at one page for a resume I believe, whereas we get two pages for a CV in Europe). – TooTone Jul 5 '13 at 8:45
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I wouldn't specifically list the countries, because that information should be clarified during the interview-process. That said, I prefer this method:

Led sales visits to Laos, Cambodia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan

Over the latter one. It looks better. Mainly because the phrase "business experience" is too loose. I'm not sure. I mean, Who knows the significance of visiting country X vs. country Y in terms of international-business experience? What about duration and the specifics?

In any case , you need to make a note to emphasize it during interview or in other non-resume ways, a la cover letter or during interview . A resume is more a global view of it all.

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    So if I spent 50% of my time traveling overseas to over 10 countries on business, that would be filler? Many people I know do not feel comfortable doing whirlwind tours of the globe, navigating dramatically different hotels, airports, restaurants, languages and customers. I most certainly have a different perspective of an applicant who has done business in Qatar than one who has done business in Chicago in the sense of their international experience. My question is, how do I express this on a resume? – jmac Jul 2 '13 at 3:06

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