Thursday, February 5, 2015

5 Job Hunting Tips for International Students in the U.S.

By Sangeetha Shanmugham
World Education Services

Job hunting is tough! And as an international student, you may encounter certain challenges and restrictions during your U.S. job search that domestic students don’t face. The most important thing to keep in mind during this stressful process is to remain calm and do your homework in advance. These five job hunting tips will help you in your search for that dream gig.

1. You must sell yourself. In many cultures it’s offensive to brag about your professional accomplishments in public. However, in the U.S. it’s important to market yourself to potential employers. Highlight your unique assets, whether they’re multilingual abilities, software skills, or prior professional experiences. Practice speaking confidently about your talents, interests and career goals in a mock interview.

2. Communication is everything. Communication skills are very important in the U.S. workplace. Use every possible opportunity to strengthen your command of verbal and written English. Even watching movies and TV shows in English can significantly improve your language skills. Don’t let a language barrier take you out of the running for a good job.

3. Network, network, network. This is key to landing your dream job in the U.S. Networking means strategically establishing relationships with alumni, friends, professors and family in the States who can help you in your job search. Oftentimes, companies choose to hire new employees through referrals, and this is where your professional network can make all the difference in the world. It’s best to connect with people in person, but you can also make contacts by picking up the telephone or sending an email or LinkedIn message. Check in with your contacts regularly; even if they don’t have a job lead for you at the moment, they might be able to help you out later on down the line.

4. Do your homework. As an international student, you will most likely be eligible for 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT), but you may find that many employers will hesitate to hire international students because of visa restrictions. It’s wise to shortlist companies that have a history of hiring international students and conserve your time by applying to them first. It’s also helpful if you familiarize yourself with immigration protocols and benefits attached to your visa status.

5. Review everything. This cannot be said enough, but always, always proofread your resume and cover letter before sending them to potential employers. Poor grammar and bad writing are turnoffs for most hiring managers. Have your resume and cover letter reviewed by the career center at your school; most schools offer workshops dedicated to helping students with this.

We understand that job hunting is never easy, but keep in mind that thousands of people have been right where you are and they have succeeded. So keep your chin up. We wish you the best!

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