It is a common career goal to work in another country for a couple of years for that global experience. International students come to the US for an education and hope to stay for at least a few years for this very reason. US Citizens look for international experience themselves for this very reason. After that time, they typically plan to return to their home country to be close to family and their home. From a completely internal point of view, that is natural and perfectly acceptable. For employers, it’s an entirely different story.
It costs thousands of dollars to recruit, hire, train and replace employees in today’s marketplace. In many positions, it takes almost a year if not more for a candidate to get up to speed with all of the ins and outs of a position and company. It is expensive to hire and retain the best in today’s market. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the employer to identify talent who will not just succeed in the short term but also long term with a career with that organization. It’s just good business sense.
What should international students do about this news? They should structure their career decisions and job search plans to match that of business’s need today. You may eventually want to return to your home country one day. Someone within the United States might take a position in another state with the hopes of returning closer to home one day. But, don’t forget that as a job seeker, you are marketing a product to a prospective employer. The employer is the buyer. As the manager of your job search marketing campaign, you must align your goals with the needs of business today. You want to be employed in a profession that matches your goals, strengths and experience. At the end of the day, business hires people who can help the company make money. They want to hire people who can learn the company and stay long enough to make a profitable impact on the organization.
The sweet spot for any career manager is to identify where your goals and skills overlap with those of a prospective employer.
It’s the time of year when prospective MBA students are looking towards leaving their current employers and transitioning back to the world of academics. Almost every reason a prospective MBA student has for applying to B-School comes down to career. Whether they want to dramatically change professions or the trajectory, MBA candidates seek to change something in their careers. As with any new initiative, people start out extremely motivated and ready to work. At the beginning of their programs, most MBAs aggressively nod their head at advice from their career coaches and promise to stay actively engaged in their job search. Naturally, this energy starts to wane after the grind of academics kicks into high gear. After students begin to realize the amount of time and energy their academic program requires, they start to prioritize their time which sometimes results in the job search being moved down the list. Some students move their job search down the list farther than others, but suffice it to say that job search energy will decrease to some degree within the first month or two of an MBA program.
Knowing the importance of a successful job search in addition to the importance of successful academics, consider implementing the following early to get ahead of the job search process:
- Connect with your career advisor (coach) this summer to begin identifying your goals, strengths and weaknesses in regards to your future career goals. Learn what areas in regards to your job search that will require coaching and refining, so you can spend less time making mistakes this fall. National Career Fairs and internship postings start popping up on the calendar very early; therefore, MBA candidates must be prepared to compete effectively in the market.
- Start writing your resume NOW! Refrain from taking your original resume and adding a few updates. Start from scratch and construct a targeted resume that presents your professional brand. Seek professional advice from your career coach and learn how to write a new resume that connects your past accomplishments and experiences with your future goals and the skills needed for success with a potential employer.
- Join the professional organization most respected in your field of study. Anyone returning to school for a career in human resources should join the local and national chapters of the Society for Human Resources Management. Be sure to not just stop at joining the organization and looking for the next national conference. Engage with other members. Contact the organization officers or board of directors and ask questions on how you can get involved. Look for ways to connect and learn from others in your chosen profession. Share information with other members through a LinkedIn group or Twitter. Show the membership that you are eager to learn and someone to meet. The best way to do this is to focus on being interested in others. Be interested in career paths, companies, and latest trends in HR, etc. Help others help you.
One of the worst things that a potential MBA student can do is wait until the last minute to start thinking about how to activate the search for an internship. The typical professional job search can take upwards of eight months. Waiting to start your job search until the time you begin your academics will most definitely ensure that one of the two will have to suffer. The best job search approach is one that is steadily active and involves great initiative. Start today by seeking ways you can kick start your job search before you arrive on campus and establish a activity rhythm that will sustain you during the busiest of times. Don’t miss the perfect opportunity due to poor planning.
It’s no secret that international students have very specific challenges in seeking employment in the United States. Companies that sponsored H1B Visas last year are turning away potential candidates due to changes in hiring practices. Identifying oganizations that sponsor H1B Visas presents an even greater challenge than usual.
International students quickly realize upon arrival in the US that job search practices here are much different from other countries. The US Job Search is a breeding ground of mixed messages as to how to find opportunities and secure employment. It’s no wonder our international students find our job search practices difficult to manuver. Company recruiters and campus relations departments tell students to apply online while career coaches encourage them to connect with hiring managers and not only rely on the online job application process. No wonder our international students find our process so confusing. Now that we have stated the problem, what can our international students do to be a successful job seeker? Here are a few ideas:
- Reach out to your network: Forget the notion that international students do not have a network in the US. If you are an international student here in the US, you have a large network. Think about all of the students who have come to the US before you and are now working in the US. Identifying people who have walked in your shoes is the best avenue for finding people to provide guidance. A network isn’t just a group of people you know. A network is a group of people in which you can identify with to build comradary.
- Get involved in a professional organization: While sponsoring restrictions may in fact be company wide, your best resource for finding information will always be through your professional organizations. The contacts you make through the organization can become your best voice for connections and recommendations with others within a company.
- Build your online professional reputation: One of the best places for any professional to gain information is through online networking communities. Notice I was very careful is using the term Social Media. Change your mindset from how you currently use Social Media to how you can effectively use it as a networking community instead. Participate in LinkedIn group conversations and professional chats on Twitter, comment on a company’s Facebook or LinkedIn community page, or look for former students from your undergraduate programs in your home country for discussions.
International students must learn one thing if they want to pursue a successful job search in the US — there is not a mathmatical formula to a successful job search process in the US. The silver lining of the US job search process is that there is a long list of best practices anyone can use. (Please refrain from the worst practices) People find employment using a myriad of successful practices. If one avenue in identifying opportunites does not work, our culture provides many other options as well. Troubleshooting invovles repairing a broken process. The US job search culture involves a great deal of troubleshooting but with a great number of options for success.