Go Global! @ UW-Madison

Go Global! @ UW-Madison

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Mark L

Time to boast... but document!!

Interim Associate Director at Global Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

No one needs to be reminded that it's a tough labor market out there. And finding work abroad has never been more sought after -- "America's brain drain: 6.3 million US citizens now live and work overseas" http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2070893/Brain-drain-reverse-6-3-MILLION-Americans-counting-live-work-overseas.html -- nor more of a challenge -- "Spain is no longer a labor oasis" http://www.andalusia-travel.com/174/2011-0326/spain-travel-migration-en.html (if you've been following the news this comes as no surprise).

So when it comes to marketing yourself for an international position -- or any opportunity for that matter -- you need to set yourself apart, highlighting the skills and talents that make you THE candidate that should at least get the interview.

If you're out there looking for work (of any sort) in the international sector, what is that one skill, talent, or experience you're building on that sets you apart from the other candidates AND how do you document it?

This last question, it seems to me, is particularly important -- especially when we're considering "soft" skills.

If you're an employer or an advisor, what skills do you look for and how do you hope/expect (or possibly have seen) applicants document these skills -- for good or ill? Is it possible to have a wish list that's not keyed to a particular position anymore? Are broad-based (but notoriously soft) "cultural competencies" passé in the current climate?

Share your thoughts.

  • Comment (5)
  • December 8, 2011
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  • Mark L L.

    Mark L

    Mark L L.

    Interim Associate Director at Global Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

    I recently re-visited my own resume which -- against the advice I give everyone I meet with -- I hadn't reviewed and updated for quite some time. It was a refreshing (if trying) experience.

    Going into it I feared that the process (and my work history) would simply highlight me as a jack of all trades, master of none with no clearly demarcated skill sets. I was pleasantly surprised: I do have a substantial and documented (if eclectic) set of marketable skills.

    But it also brought home the fact -- and this is something else I mention to all my advisees -- that the resume needs to be tailored for any particular opportunity almost as much as the cover letter needs to be. Looking for something in student services? My resume is going to look mighty different than the one I prepared for the fundraising/development post I applied for!!

    The earlier in your career the less tailoring you'll probably need to do but... trust me, it's always good to revisit, reorder, and re-edit that resume for each and every post you apply for.

  • Deborah

    Deborah G.

    Student Coordinator at University of Wisconsin Madison

    Hi Mark! I was wondering what you meant by "Are broad-based (but notoriously soft) "cultural competencies" passé in the current climate? "

  • Mark L L.

    Mark L

    Mark L L.

    Interim Associate Director at Global Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

    The business/professional equivalent of "plays well with others" perhaps? Both an awareness of and an ability to work within a broad, truly international setting, navigating different business and personal communities.

    I'm old enough to remember when listing that you studied abroad meant something; when including where you'd traveled was significant. In many regards it is still significant -- I think (though this is part of why I asked: is it??) -- but HOW we document those competencies, as "outcomes" and achievements (of what??), has radically changed.

    And I wonder a little bit whether that documentation is not driving some of these harder to document "skills" (or outlooks?) towards... oblivion? Obsolescence?

    What do you think?

  • Deborah

    Deborah G.

    Student Coordinator at University of Wisconsin Madison

    I am third generation tkc (third culture kid), meaning for three generation my family has been expats, so yes, I wonder about the study abroad...It is a good experience, but I think it is probably a short and sheltered one. I would think documenting competencies would be a challenge. I would question the cultural competency of the people developing the cultral competency measuring model...It is a very complex thing.

  • Mark L L.

    Mark L

    Mark L L.

    Interim Associate Director at Global Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

    I suspect it -- "cultural competency" -- is one of those "I'll know it when I see it" things; which only makes it more difficult for those trying to get it across in the rather flaccid realm of the cover letter & resume/cv. It's so much better suited to the story-telling possibilities of the interview...

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