American Resumes for Non Americans

This was written at the request of a Swiss school of higher management. I leave it as it was written, although some will seem too obvious to Americans.

In general, the same principles apply to management presentations as to culinary resumes: Precision, necessary detail and honesty to provide the reader with information which will lead him to choose you for a suitable position.

In the United States, all job listings begin with the most recent position and work back to the first position. Pertinent information includes the positions held, the size and nature of the task performed, the ratings of the operation, unless you feel that these should be obvious to your audience.

The same equal opportunity limitations apply to management applicants as to kitchen staff. American Law prevents employers from using age, nationality, religion, disability status, sex, place of birth, or race as a hiring criteria. It follows that such information as health status, weight, nationality are not included on most American directed resumes.

It is necessary, however, for American hiring authorities to document the employability of overseas candidates. To this end we have also suggested that applicants include information about their U.S. Residential Status, if they are in possession of a 'Green Card' or other working visa.

The cover letter is more important to European candidates than to American applicants, as it can be a vehicle for a great deal of information pertinent to the position desired. This would include such questions as the requirements for relocation costs (or the lack of such a requirement, highly recommended at this time), whether a work permit is pending, and information which would not be usual on the resume. Normal business correspondence rules apply for these letters: Keep them short and clear. Try to avoid "I" whenever possible.

Fortunately, very few firms in America insist on handwriting samples. Cover letters should be typed. They need not be in the same print, paper or format as the resume.

Do not airdrop your resumes or cover letters. Unless you are answering a blind ad, address the resume to the person in charge of hiring and date it. Even if you are answering a blind ad you can address it to "the advertiser of a position for ....", naming the publication. Sign your cover letter by hand. Although there are extremely successful candidates with one page resumes on straight white bond, there is an argument for a dressier resume (not inflated) indicating marketing and presentation orientation. Candidates with long backgrounds frequently choose between several multi page options. We have found bound resumes difficult to handle, since we are unable to present single pages to prospective employers.

Loose leaf portfolios in fold over two pocket binders are useful for European candidates, as they permit submission of odd sized materials describing the candidate's current and previous places of employment (hotel brochures, restaurant advertising, etc) and pertinent copies of certification, letters of reference or other good show and tell material, and usually have a space for the enclosure of a business card.

Professionals with less material frequently submit a one and half page fold-over cover sheet with their name and address. The inside of the half page foldover should not contain the most important information - the employment history, references, etc., but may contain a bullet list summary of abilities, achievements, and other important information.

Management applicants should always include a complete reference list with telephone number, an indication of professional relationship and past location of reference giver, and the reference giver's current position. The details of management resumes remain the same as those of kitchen or dining room resumes. Keep any decoration -lines, stripes, bullets - simple. Paper is your choice, and will vary with your goal and position sought. It should, however, conform to the standard America 8 in X 11 inch letter format. There is nothing wrong with good printing on fine white bond. It is easy to read and dignified. Some positions may be aided by fairly fancy paper or colors, but be careful. A light marbled parchment is also acceptable and stands up to repeated handling very well. Do be sure that the paper you send is pale and light weight enough for faxing and copying.

Present the most important information in a easily readable manner. Take care to show where several positions have been under the same corporation, consulting or management group to highlight employment stability. You may choose to list continuous employment under a mentor who changed positions or corporations and requested you follow, or you may save that for an interviews.

List pertinent education and training under a clear and separate heading. If you have received awards, they should definitely be listed. Although hobbies and private matters do not belong on a professional resume, some nonprofessional affiliations such as Rotary Club membership or civic engagement may prove beneficial.

State your objective only when it is necessary. Especially more advanced management resumes should be directed at specific positions - not mass mailed. A universal objective statement of "seeking an upper level management position in a quality establishment" on the resume of an assistant general manager applying for the resident position at a Kempinsky, for instance, would be foolish.

Anyone seeking an advanced position should at least have access to a computer or word processor, on which they can use a database to address their applications. This facilitates initial application and follow through mail merge options.

There is much less confusion of terms in the management sector than in the kitchen. Most European terminology is recognized in the United States. The exception is the British use of "catering" to indicate general food and beverage, while in American English it is reserved for on or off premise banquet or buffet style service.

It is perhaps important to note, that the incursion of women in America into management positions has made it absolutely necessary to recognize the possibility of a resume recipient being female. It is no longer wise to address any application DEAR SIR. Dear Sir or Madam will do when you cannot find the name of the person to whom you are applying, but a direct letter will always make a better impression. More liberal forces are attempting to change the terms waitress or waiter to the gender neutral 'Waitron', which is generally perceived to be a bit silly. 'Server' is preferable, if you need to indicate front of the house positions. The use of the words 'boy' and 'girl', however, should be avoided at all costs.

Unfortunately, the level of courtesy in American hiring has sunk with the incorporation of restaurants and hotels. It is more unusual for an applicant for a position to receive a letter of rejection or confirmation of receipt than not. You may wish, when applying to important positions, therefor, to send the resume return receipt requested.

If you are applying directly (not through a search firm or agency) to a corporate hiring authority or director of human resources, there is no reason not to make a short call confirming receipt of the materials, should you not hear from them for several days. Do not bypass an agency, if they have submitted you for the position. If your resume is addressed to an individual in the executive offices, you may wish to speak with that person's secretary.

Americans can be very cordial over the phone. This is sincere, but we play by a very different set of rules. American managers sometimes permit themselves to be interrupted out of courtesy, so be careful to keep any contacts short and not to call too often. A question such as "I hope I am not interrupting you?" or "Is this a convenient time for you?" will help.

If you do follow up per telephone, state your name and reason for calling clearly. It will help, if you are calling long distance, to add that you are calling from Switzerland. (This is Lothar Lutz. I am calling Mr Smith in the Executive Offices from Zurich, Switzerland to confirm that he has received the materials I sent him. Is he available?)