Resume Tips for Middle East Jobs

Baffling though it is, many people who are actively looking for work send us resumes that are confusing, puffed up, overloaded with buzz words, and even, sometimes, just plain bad. This is particularly surprising, because a resume typically constitutes a job seeker's first impression to their prospective employer.

Although the advice below may seem obvious, some of the resumes we receive suggest this is not the case to some people.

1) Put your name on your resume. If you have a nickname that you prefer to be called, indicate it, e.g., Agatha "Aggie" Smith. And, as you may have read on our site, because some positions in the Middle East are restricted by sex, if you have a unisex name, include your middle name or a title to indicate whether you are male or female, e.g., rather than simply "Lee Jones," write "Lee Ann Jones." We will have to ask.

2) Since the point of a resume is, after all, to have a recruiter or employer contact you, include your complete contact details (address, landline and/or cell phone, email and, if you have one, Skype name) on your resume. If one method of contact (e.g., cell, email) is better than the others, indicate this.

3) Make sure your contact details are correct. The spell-check won't catch that you typed your phone number as 555-555-1234 when it should be 555-555-1233.

4) If your resume is password-protected, make sure the person receiving it either has the password, or is able to open the file "read-only."

5) Make sure your resume is up-to-date. Typically for Middle East applications, it is important that you list all your education and positions since graduation in your profession.

6) Turn off editing features such as "track changes" before you save and send the resume. If using a resume template, ensure you have filled in all the sections — don't leave a block saying "insert text here" or "sample template." Such things look particularly bad for those who are applying for secretarial or IT positions.

7) Because employers in the Middle East are particularly concerned about experience being current, and because they have age cut-offs for approvals and visas, indicate dates (month/year) of work experience and education. We will have to ask.

8) Again, because the employers in the Middle East are particularly concerned about experience being current, a chronological resume is the best for your application. Functional and combination style resumes are not useful, because they can be misleading.

9) As one of my professors once admonished us, "Eschew obfuscation." This can be translated as "avoid confusion," or "avoid misleading," (or outright lying) e.g.,

  • The employers in the Middle East are also very concerned that applicants have the required amount of experience. "A minimum of two years of current, full-time experience" means a minimum of two years of current, full-time experience — no exceptions. So if you write that you worked as an RN from 2011 to 2012, it can mean many things, e.g., January 2011 to December 2012 (two years) versus November 2011 to February 2012 (four months). Similarly, if your resume states your last job was held 2005 to 2012 — there is a big difference in your time out of work if the end date was January 2012 than if it was December 2012. You will be asked, and it doesn't feel particularly good to be caught obfuscating.
  • Indicate the year you received your diploma/degree, as well as the school from which you received it, and the city/state or city/province in which the school is located. An added issue recently is that the governments/licensing bodies do not accept online/distance education degrees. We must ask if your education was from a traditional, in-class program, or from a distance education/online program.
  • If you didn't complete a degree, make sure this fact is clear. Believe it or not, a good number of resumes are written so that the text implies that a degree was completed, when in fact it wasn't. When we discover, sometimes late in the recruitment process, that an applicant does not have the required degree, it is embarrassing for everyone — and the offer will not be extended by the hospital.
  • If you have a gap in your employment history, explain it. You will be asked. This is especially an issue if a gap means that you do not have the required experience, e.g., if you write you were employed by Hospital X from September 2011 to September 2013, but haven't actually worked any shifts there since October 2012 ...
  • Indicate whether a position is full-time, part-time, PRN, etc. This is particularly important when one is working several different jobs at once. If the job is part-time status but you work full-time hours, note this.
  • Indicate the unit (or units) on which you work. If you rotate between two units, but spend the majority of time on one unit, indicate this (e.g., Surgical ICU 80% of shifts, ER 20% of shifts).

10) When you are sending a resume by email or via a website's upload feature (e.g., through our website's "Apply to this Job" function), make sure that what you are uploading is actually your resume. Apparently by accident, we have received, rather than a person's resume items that include: a different person's resume; blank pages; images of clothing; an MP3 file of an Andrea Bocelli song; a legal document; a tax document; medical lab test results; a graduation photo; a schedule for a party; a .jpeg image of a calendar; a lottery plan.

11) Indicate the location (city/state or city/province) of the hospitals at which you have worked. For example, the American Hospital Directory indicates there are currently 84 "Saint Joseph" hospitals, of varying sizes and types (tertiary, paediatric, rural, rehab, mental health …) across the USA.

12) If you work at a hospital that operates on several sites, indicate at which site you work. Are you at the 700 bed, tertiary main campus, or at the new 25 bed rehab facility? It makes a definite difference to the employers in the Middle East.

13) Provide useful facts about your experience and skills: avoid jargon, cliches, and buzz-words. Specifically, for current and recent positions, give details about your work, such as types of patients and types of duties.

14) If you want to include an objective in your resume, make sure it is geared towards the job for which you have applied. Do not, e.g., say your objective is to become an ESL teacher when you are a qualified sonographer who, according to your cover letter, is applying for a job as a sonographer.

15) Don't type your resume solely in lower case or upper case text. They both look unprofessional, but the latter is also painful to read. Also avoid colored fonts, smileys, etc.

16) Use a standard font, e.g., Arial, Times. Some fonts are very attractive … but more suited to a wedding invitation or birthday card than to a resume. And if you send your resume as a Word document in a non-standard font, and the recruiter or employer does not have that font, the default font used by their computer may destroy the look you worked so hard to create.

17) Before you send your resume, check it for spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Often, employers consider errors, particularly spelling errors, to be an indication of your lack of attention to detail. And don't rely solely on the spell check: "patent" is spelled correctly, but it isn't the same as a "patient."

18) If you are not 100% sure of the meaning of a big word, do not use it. Misused words make for strange reading in resumes, cover letters, or queries. And correctly spelled, incorrectly used words also are not typically caught by spell check (e.g., enumeration and remuneration are not the same thing).

19) In addition to checking for spelling, punctuation, and grammar, check to make sure items that are not caught by a spell check, e.g., contact details, dates, etc., are correct.

20) Send your resume in a common format, such as in Word or as a PDF, or pasted into an email query. Try to avoid old formats like .wps.

21) The file name for your resume should be yours, to help identify it (e.g., Smith,Jane-resume or JohnDoe-CV).

22) Be as brief and concise as possible, while still being informative.

Happy job hunting!

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