(relevant only for résumés sent outside the U.S. and Canada)

A4 is the name of the standard metric paper size used for letters and documents (and résumés) everywhere in the world except the U.S. and Canada. It’s important for e-mailed MS Word documents and PDFs, as well as for paper.

A4 paper is 21.0 cm x 29.7 cm, which is 8.268" x 11.693". It’s a little narrower and a little longer than U.S. letter size—so it doesn’t quite fit in most things designed to hold U.S.-letter−sized sheets. If you send your U.S.-letter−size résumé to someone outside the U.S. or Canada, it will be a bit of a nuisance for them to handle and file along with other paper. Even if you e-mail it, it will be a bit of a nuisance to print out. You don’t want your résumé to be a nuisance—if you’re sending it outside the U.S. or Canada, you should send it in A4 size, even if it’s an electronic document. (I can provide electronic documents in A4 size.)

Another reason to use A4 paper for your international CV is that it shows that you are aware of international standards, and willing to work with them. (Many Americans aren’t.) An international employer will appreciate that.

You can print your international CV out on US letter-size paper to read the copy, but the margins won’t look the way they will on A4 paper, and copy close to the edge may be cut off. If you’ve set up your document in A4 format, the screen display will show you what the résumé looks like on an A4 sheet. (In Microsoft Word, be sure you’re using Page Layout view.)

Since you will usually be e-mailing your CV, you can get by without using any A4 paper at home. But it should still be set up in A4 size, so the recipient can print it out conveniently. And if you travel abroad for an interview, you’ll want to have some copies on A4 handy to give to people. If you create any sort of paper documents to send overseas, it can be handy to have some A4 around.

FINDING A4 PAPER: If you’re planning on having your A4 résumé output at a copy shop, be aware that copy shops in the U.S. are unlikely to have A4 paper. They should be able to output A4 documents on A4 paper that you provide. You can find sources on the Web for A4 paper by the ream (500 sheets); some retail paper dealers or well-stocked business stationers may also have it, at least in large cities. (If you’re in the U.S., a ream may last you a lifetime.)

The metric envelope size that corresponds to A4 is referred to as “DL”. It’s 22.0 cm x 11.0 cm, which is 8.66" x 4.33". You may be able to find airmail envelopes in this size at a well-stocked stationery store. If you can, they will add a professional touch to international correspondence. However, you can use standard U.S. letter-size (#10) envelopes with A4 paper—A4 folded into thirds will fit neatly into a #10 envelope.