Three international students walking on sidewalk and speaking to each other.

Job Search Guide for International Students

Introduction

As the world becomes smaller with the globalization of markets, there are an increasing number of international students on campuses throughout the U.S. today. International students seeking employment in the U.S. have unique and different challenges. This guide has been developed to provide assistance and advice to international students regarding the job search process.

There are two major obstacles international students may face at the outset of the job search. The first is employment restrictions imposed by U.S. immigration regulations; the second is cultural differences that may affect a student’s ability to successfully present their qualifications to an employer. It is important for you to be aware of these difficulties and to be prepared to deal with them as best you can. To ensure that you have the proper employment authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), contact the Office of International Student and Scholar Services at 513-529-5628. There are some specific strategies you can utilize as you prepare for the job search, whether you plan to remain in the U.S. or return to your home country.

Dual Pathways

As an international student, there are dual pathways available for your job search. The location you want to be employed in after graduation will inform how you approach your job search. There are different strategies you will employ and resources you will utilize depending on if you want employment in the U.S., in your home country or in another country. This guide is created to assist you in your job search.

The first step in a successful job search is an honest, thorough evaluation of your values, your interests, your personal and financial needs, and your short and long term goals. As an international student, you should be aware that the goals you brought with you to the U.S. might have changed after residing here. You should be able to clearly articulate your career goals to an employer, and this can be achieved through a thorough self-assessment. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What did I hope to gain from studying in the U.S.? How have these goals changed?
  • What are my short and long term career goals?
  • What geographical restrictions do I have in my job search?
  • What financial considerations will inform my job search?
  • How do my personal needs (e.g., family considerations) fit in with my goals?

Most individuals benefit from seeking assistance with the self-assessment process. This assistance is readily available, through the Center for Career Exploration & Success staff members in the Armstrong Student Center.

Resume

An American resume and resume format may differ from resume/resume formats found in other countries. It is important to be aware of these differences to ensure that your resume is specific to the U.S. if seeking employment in the U.S.

The following are some general differences between U.S. and International resumes:

  • U.S.: A “resume” is a completely different document than a “CV.” A CV in the U.S. is used primarily when applying for academic, research, scientific positions, and for fellowships and grants.
  • International: Typically the terms “resume” and “CV” refer to the same documents.
  • U.S.: A resume is concise (typically one page) and only lists jobs, educational skills, and accomplishments that are RELEVANT to the specific job.
  • International: A resume is usually longer (sometimes two or more pages) and explains all academic and formal work experience, including completion of military service (if applicable).
  • U.S.: The resume may list high school, but typically highlights education at the college and graduate/professional levels.
  • International: May begin with secondary school and list all education thereafter. Reputation of the secondary school may be of importance.
  • U.S.: In the U.S., a resume is designed to exhibit and show-off your potential, skills, knowledge, and experience. The tone is typically assertive and firm and is used to present to the employer that YOU are the BEST person for the job.
  • International: In societies that value social hierarchy, modesty and respectfulness are important components of the tone of the resume.
  • U.S.: A resume does NOT include personal information such as a personal photo, age, health, marital status, race, or religion.
  • International: Personal photos are often times included with a resume along with other personal information.

The following are resume tips for international students seeking U.S. employment:

  • Do not list English as a language skill when applying for a job in an English-speaking country.
  • Do not include TOEFL scores.
  • Do not include your visa status.
  • Do not list your international permanent address/phone on your U.S. resume.
  • Emphasize your accomplishments, not just experience.
  • Highlight your pertinent experience at home, not just in the U.S.
  • Provide a frame of reference for international companies/schools so that U.S. employers become familiar with the company/school you are listing on your resume. For example,
    • Second largest technology manufacturer in South America
    • Top five universities in China
    • MIT of Nigeria
    • Italian version of McDonald’s
    • Include fluency in languages.
  • Check your spelling, grammar, and use of language. Use the Career Center and the Howe Center for Writing Excellence as resources to review!

Tips for international students seeking employment in their home country or abroad:

  • Contact your networks in your home country and share your resume with them
  • Research the customs for the country you want to be employed
  • Utilize job search tools such as My Visa Jobs and Going Global

The staff at the Career Center can assist you in preparing a resume. A resume for employment in the U.S. is an advertisement for you in terms of your abilities, accomplishments, and future capabilities. Your resume is your chief marketing tool in your job search campaign. An effective resume will make a prospective employer want to meet you in person to further discuss your potential value to their organization. Above all, your resume should be honest, positive, concise, and easy to read. For more information about preparing your resume, please refer to the Resume Preparation guide.

Cover Letter

A cover letter typically accompanies a resume when applying for jobs. Throughout the course of your job search, you will be in constant contact with prospective employers. You will be evaluated on your ability to present yourself as a good communicator who is capable of contributing your skills to an employing organization.

Presenting yourself effectively ‘on paper’ is essential during the job search. While this is accomplished in part with a well-written resume, a variety of correspondence is also necessary in most job-search campaigns. Whether you are asking for an interview or accepting a job offer, appropriate and effective correspondence will significantly enhance the likelihood of success in your job-search efforts. For more information about cover letters, please refer to the Cover Letters and Other Job Search Correspondence.

The Interview

Interviewing is a skill that anyone can develop. By utilizing resources provided by the Career Center, you can improve your interviewing skills.
  • Reflect on your experiences and practice sharing them with others
  • Complete the Telling your Story workbook
  • Sign up for a Mock Interview

Differences in Cultural Attitudes and Behaviors

Culture plays a strong role on how individuals perceive themselves, situations and each other. During a job interview, for example, culture has an impact on what employers value as appropriate and desirable behavior. To prepare for a job interview in the U.S., it is important to be aware of the cultural nuances that may be at play during your verbal and non-verbal communication with the employer. In the U.S.:

  • Direct eye contact and firm handshake relay confidence and interest.
  • Thinking “quick on your feet” conveys competence and dynamism.
  • High value is placed on ability to articulate answers quickly and eloquently.
  • High value is placed on self-reliance (rather than on group/community affiliation).
  • High value is placed on individual achievement: taking credit for making positive changes, solving problems, or developing new initiatives (rather than individual modesty).
  • Long periods of silence are uncommon and may make the interviewer uncomfortable.

Language Fluency

The best way to tackle limited language fluency during the job interview is to practice your English writing, speaking and listening skills. Of particular importance during the interview are your speaking and listening skills. To practice these skills, you need to get involved in as many opportunities to practice your English as possible. Getting involved in student organizations, intramural sports, and volunteering are some of the many ways to gain confidence with your English language fluency.

Types of Work Authorization

For questions regarding work authorization, contact the International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) Office [International@miamioh.edu], 513-529-5628.

Optional Practical Training

Optical Practical Training, also commonly referred to as OPT, refers to temporary employment for practical training directly related to a student’s major area of study.

Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training, also commonly referred to as CPT, refers to temporary employment for practical training that is directly integrated in the curriculum of the student’s major area of study. To learn more about OPT and CPT, please speak with an international student advisor in the ISSS office. You can schedule an appointment by using the SSC Campus Appointment System.

Identifying Potential Employers

After you have prepared your resume and cover letter, it is time to identify appropriate employers. Be aware that there are some employers who are interested in hiring international students whether for a practical training experience or full-time employment, and there are others who are not.

According to the Immigration Reform Control Act of 1986, employers must be willing to interview and consider for hire permanent residents, temporary residents, refugees and individuals in the U.S. under political asylum. Any question or criterion that would exclude any of these groups is prohibited. However, employers are permitted to specify that they will not consider any individuals with a nonimmigrant visa (i.e., F1 or J1) who are eligible to work only for practical training purposes. This creates a challenge for international students as they attempt to identify employers who may be interested in hiring them. How do you go about identifying employers who are willing to consider you for practical training and/or full-time employment? Here are several strategies we suggest you employ to assist you in your job search.

Going Global

Going Global is a provider of both country specific and USA city-specific career and employment information. Going Global’s unlimited access subscription database features 38 Country Career Guides, 47 USA City Career guides, corporate profiles and more than 500,000 internship and job listings within the USA and around the world. Both the Going Global Country Career Guides and the USA City Career Guides provide professional advice and insider tips on such topics as:

  • Job search tools - online and face-to-face resources
  • Employment trends in major industries - learn more about growing industry areas and focus your job or internship search
  • Executive recruiters and staffing agency contacts - great contacts for students and alumni/professional job seekers
  • Work permit regulations - clearly explains the important details for international students and professional job seekers
  • Salary ranges and cost of living data - take the guesswork out of planning for career moves and relocations
  • Professional and social networking groups - get a head start on making connections for career development
  • Resume/CV writing guidelines
  • Interviewing and cultural advice

Each Career Guide contains more than 500 employment resources, all with detailed explanations and links directly to the latest information. All USA City Career Guides include links to H-1B visa employers for every state!

Companies/Organizations that Have a Relationship with Your Home Country

Companies/organizations that have an existing relationship with your home country may be particularly interested in hiring you. There are two excellent resources available to you that will help you identify these potential employers. These resources are the Directory of American Firms Operating in Foreign Countries and the Directory of Foreign Firms Operating in the U.S.

Local Chambers of Commerce

It is important to realize that there may be job opportunities for you in medium- to smaller-sized companies that have established trade relationships with various countries. Most major cities now have companies that are establishing trade relationships with foreign countries. Contact local chambers of commerce and ask about their trade relationships with other countries.

On-Campus Interviewing Program

As mentioned earlier, employers have the right to specify whether or not they will interview international students on an F1 or J1 visa. We recommend that you correspond directly with employers who recruit at Miami. We have found that although an employer may tell us that they are not interested in interviewing international students on campus, there are times employers will grant interviews to international students who take the initiative to make direct contact.

International Companies

Some of the best employment prospects for international students may be with international companies. International students are great assets to global organizations desiring language skills, respect for diversity, and knowledge of overseas economies.

Workshops and Career Fairs

The Career Center sponsors a wide variety of workshops that can help acquaint you further with the American perspective on the job search process. In addition to workshops on resume writing, interviewing techniques, and job search strategies, the Career Center sponsors a career fair in September and an internship & career expo in February which offer you the opportunity to obtain career advice and explore career opportunities with employers representing business, industry, government and public service. You can also take advantage of our “mock interview” service to improve your interviewing skills. You can schedule a Mock Interview through your Handshake profile.

Networking

You probably have heard something about “networking” as a job search strategy. In the U.S., the primary way people get professional positions is through networking, which involves informing as many people as possible that you are looking for a job. You can begin the networking process by meeting with your international student advisor, professors, and friends. They may be aware of job openings for which you may be eligible or know of organizations interested in hiring international students. Remember to provide your contacts with a copy of your resume so they know what you are looking for and what experience and background you have. If they have contacts in any organizations for which you may be interested in working, ask for their permission to contact these individuals using their name. They might also have lists of international students or alumni working temporarily or permanently in the U.S. or alumni who have found employment in their home country. Don’t forget about people in your home country who may be of assistance to you.

To assist you with building your professional network, you will want to join LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the leading professional network on the web where you can connect with classmates, faculty, staff and industry professionals and find new opportunities for internships and full-time positions. To learn more about LinkedIn and how to create your profile please visit [MiamiOH.edu/careers/internship-job search/linkedin/index.html].

Informational Interviews

Informational interviewing is a form of networking and is another technique that can help you establish further contacts. Informational interviewing involves talking with individuals in your field to gain first-hand career information and advice about the job search process. The informational interview is never used to ask for a job, but rather is a means to gain helpful information and develop contacts with other individuals in your field. For more information on informational interviewing, refer to the Job Search Strategies guide via our website.

Employment Agencies

Be wary of any employment agency that promises you the job of your dreams in an American company for which you always wanted to work. Any agency that charges you a fee to help you identify job opportunities should be avoided. There are many organizations that prey upon the vulnerability of international students — BE CAUTIOUS. Those agencies that are fee paid, that is, the company pays the agency to find qualified individuals for jobs, are the better choice. Although there may be exceptions, normally employment agencies are of little help to inexperienced graduates seeking entry-level positions.

Additional Tips

Any job search, whether it be that of an American or an international student, is time-consuming and, at times, frustrating. However, by following the strategies outlined in this guide and the other publications we have suggested, your job search will be more productive. Keep an open mind and utilize all the resources available to you. Here are some additional tips:

Market Yourself Positively

It is very important for international students to turn an employer’s objections into positives. By virtue of living and studying abroad, international students demonstrate tenacity and resourcefulness. Tell employers about the challenges you faced in studying abroad and how you overcame them. You should also be prepared to convince employers that hiring you offers more advantages than disadvantages.

Consider an Internship

Students have a better chance of receiving a job offer from the sponsoring American company after completing an internship with the company. Therefore, internships can sometimes lead to full-time employment. Since internships usually count as Optional Practical Training (OPT) time, please check with the Office of International Student and Scholar Services before pursuing an internship to determine whether an internship is right for you. Students most often seek internships for the summer prior to graduation.

Explore Occupations in Need of International Students

According to a study conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE Research: Job Outlook 2016), employers who plan to hire international students focus on graduates with degrees in electrical engineering, computer science, chemistry, chemical engineering, and business administration/management. Of the employers who participated in the NACE study, industries with the highest percentage of respondents indicating plans to hire 2016 international graduates are computer and electronics manufacturers (66.7%), information (57.1%) and constructions and engineering services (44%). These statistics suggest that international students who wish to work several years in the United States would be wise to study technical subjects in order to increase their chance for employment.

Possible sources about occupations, employers, and companies with a history of H1-B sponsorship include [ForeignMBA.com]and [H1VisaJobs.com]. Registration and payment of a fee may be required to access certain parts of these sites.

Be Flexible

You may need to expand your job search by considering jobs outside your desired career field. For example, a student who would like work in Web development may want to search for jobs in Web development as well as other areas of information technology/computer science.