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Resume Tips: How to write a resumé in three Asian countries

Did you know that …

…in Japan,  job applications are standard forms purchased from the local stationary store which are completed by hand?

…in Korea, if you are the eldest child in your family, it is important to state that on your resumé?

Needless to say, job applications can differ greatly between Canada and countries abroad. However, as in most countries, a resumé includes your contact information, education, work experience, other skills (e.g., computer and language fluency), relevant volunteer activities or hobbies, and references. 

Following are just some of the differences between completing a job application in Canada and some Asian countries:

China

Mandarin is the official language, but English is becoming more important, so it is ideal for you to provide a resumé in both English and Chinese.  The resumé starts with your name, address, telephone number, fax, and email address.  Sometimes your gender and date of birth will be included.  It is not uncommon for your resumé to include reasons for leaving a particular employer.

Japan

The rirekisho, or traditional application, is a standard, two-page form that is a personal profile.  You can get this form at local stationary stores.  Complete this in Japanese handwriting.  Similar to France, graphology might be used to do a character analysis.  If you have someone else handwrite for you, you must indicate this at the top of the form.  A photograph should be attached.

Your resumé should start with your name, address, and email address.  In addition to schools attended and honours received, the academic background section should include any special skills (e.g., fluency in specific computer applications and standard language test scores).  You typically end your resumé with personal information (e.g., sex, age, nationality, marital status) and either names of referees or “references available upon request.”

Resumés are often sent online, so avoid lines and italic fonts so that your resume is scannable.

Philippines

Your resumé should include your marital status, age, citizenship, height, weight, and a recent photograph (which is embedded in the upper right-hand corner).  Sometimes you will be expected to provide a copy of your university transcript.

In the place of a cover letter, most employers require you to fill out a form before an interview.  This form often includes essay questions and requires you to list names of people who are familiar with the company to which you are applying or who work at the company to which you are applying (since references are not highlighted on the resumé).

Overall, resumes are straight-forward and business-like rather than creative; in fact, students at some universities are given a template for their resumé because some universities compile students’ resumés in a book which is sent to potential employers.

Additional resources

Although this article outlines some of the differences between expectations of Canadian and non-Canadian resumés, students should consult their university or college’s career centre to obtain resources geared more specifically to the country to which they are applying.  Most career centres or libraries will have resources such as The Big Guide to Living and Working Overseas and The Global Resume and CV Guide.

You can also check out some of these online resources:

  • Going Global includes information about resumes, CVs, cover letters, popular places for jobs to be posted, etc. in several countries.
  • JobERA includes information about international resumes and CVs.

If you’re interested in working in Europe, check out our complementary article How to write a resumé in three European countries.

Written by

Elizabeth Baisley is currently studying for an Master of Arts in Political Studies at Queen's University, where she works as a teaching assistant. She recently completed her Honours Bachelor of Arts in Human Rights & Human Diversity at Wilfrid Laurier University's Brantford campus. Elizabeth's academic interest in the rights of marginalized populations translates into her volunteer work and extracurricular involvement in the fields of rights advocacy, immigrant settlement, literacy, health, environmental issues, and local democracy. In September 2013, she will begin her PhD in Politics at Princeton University.
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