International Students: Maneuvering Through a Job Search

by Adriana Hall

A job search requires countless hours, patience, dedication and a sense of action.  A job search for an international student requires the same sense of dedication, but there are some added maneuvers to implement into your search to emphasize your skills and accomplishments in this competitive job market.

One of the biggest challenges to finding employment as an international candidate is that many employers in the United States are required by law to hire only U.S. Citizens due to security.  Employers may also be reluctant to hire international candidates because the process can be both intimidating and overwhelming.  In addition, the current economic downturn produces even more competition among candidates for available positions.

The great news is that there are employers who are willing to hire foreign nationals who demonstrate during the recruiting process that they have not only the skills necessary to perform the job, but the personality to fit into the company.   International candidates also have skill sets that they can bring to the job search process to help them stand out from other applicants.

From demonstrating your skills to identifying your qualities, another important part of the job search process as an international applicant is to become familiar with U.S. immigration practices and procedures.  That way, it is easier to talk to employers about immigration policies, which can make the employer feel more confident in the entire process.

Here are some important tips to help international candidates through the job search process.

How do you stand out as an international candidate in this very competitive market?

  • Build a strong cover letter, resume/curriculum vitae (CV, if applying overseas).  The resume is the first impression an employer has of you; it is your own marketing tool
  • Maintain a strong GPA
  • Master the English language.  Enhance your communication skills by talking and speaking up in class, giving presentations, making friends, talking to Americans, taking communication courses, attending Career Services professional development presentations, joining and participating in on-campus organizations and reading newspapers and academic publications
  • Practice interviewing.  The first step to preparing for an interview is having an understanding of your values, skills, qualities and accomplishments  and being able to speak about them to a potential employer
  • Attend career fairs.  Meet recruiters and learn about various companies
  • Pursue internships and co-ops to open doors to possible full-time opportunities

How do you start navigating the job market in the U.S. and overseas?

  • Research companies in your career field that have multinational presences
  • Focus on occupations that most often sponsor international candidates
  • Look for opportunities in your own country
  • Become familiar with bilateral agreements that your country has in terms of employment with other countries
  • Network, Network, Network!  Contact friends, classmates, neighbors, family members, professors, alumni and community members and share your interest in obtaining employment with them.  Knowing the right people is more important than ever.  Alumni are a great resource. Consider creating an account on LinkedIn and actively using the system. You can find alumni from around the world that are in your area of interest and expertise and establish a connection

What skills can you emphasize during any job search interaction?

  • Language skills
  • Ability to adapt to new environments
  • Multi-cultural experiences
  • Global perspective
  • Plus, all your  technical skills, attributes and accomplishments

Job seekers often have the same sense of dedication and commitment to their job searches.  As international candidates seeking employment in the United States, it is important that your job search includes a focus on the hiring process knowledge and an emphasis on skills that differentiate you from other candidates. Use these recommendations to maneuver through the job search process and land a position.

Additional Resources

Adriana Hall has a Bachelor of Arts in Languages (Spanish-English) from Colombia-South America and a Master of Science in Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  She has been with ERAU for 9 years. Adriana worked for the Department of State in Colombia at the United States Embassy before moving to the U.S. ��� mr �(�� Career Services.

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