Job Search in the US for International Students after Masters
Job Search in the US after Masters for international students can be difficult, as most recruiters and employers are unaware about cultural differences and visa requirements. It is your responsibility to provide this information to employers so that everyone is on the same page. Learn the most about the US job market as it is completely different to what it is in your country. Also, before you begin job hunting, it is best to know your visa requirements and restrictions.
Difficulties International Students Face
Job hunting is always hard, but for international students, the process is even more difficult and frustrating. Oftentimes, employers are hesitant to hire international students. This can be for a number of reasons. The most common reasons include:
- Complexities and misunderstandings concerning visas.
- Hiring international students can be costly and time-consuming, with legal complexities.
- Fear of new hires leaving after six months if they don’t get a visa due to any personal reason.
- Concern that the student might have poor English skills that may affect communications.
Whether these perceptions are fair or not, the truth is that many employers will hire US students over international students. There are companies in the US that hire students from abroad.
Searching a Job as an International Student
As an international student, job hunting will be a little more complicated for you compare to US students. Here are some tips to keep in mind through the process.
You are almost never early to start with your applications. As soon as you land in the US begin drafting your resume in a format that is accepted by US recruiters because till now you were working with a cv that is accepted in your home country. Research your situation and shortlist companies that have a legacy of sponsoring employees who need work visas.
The first goal should be to secure a summer internship for your CPT and if you manage to get an internship in a company which sponsors employees for work visas, half the job is done! Work hard in your internship and contribute significantly- you have 10-12 weeks to create an impact and convince the management to offer you a Pre Placement Offer (PPO). If you get a PPO, then you can be much more relaxed in your second year and, focus on some other jobs that you may want to target.
Take Advantage of Your School’s Resources
Surely, school will offer career services, and likely to have a good deal of experience helping international students to find jobs. Take advantage of that experience, and set up a meeting with a career coach to discuss your specific situation and goals. You will also want to attend career fairs and talk to the recruiters, build relationships. And follow up with them for potential interviews.
Around 70% of jobs are found through solid connections. Take advantage of your school’s community; talk to alumni groups who have gone through the same process you are. Build up relationships with your professors and even parents of your American friends. Invite your alumni or people you may know for informational interviews at local coffee shops or lunch and strike a good conversation without sounding too desperate. Also find your “WHO”- you will know someone who is close to you and is already working in the US. Make sure to leverage that connection and develop your network with people who matter.
Process of job search can be exhausting and demoralizing. You might feel that you are working yourself to the bone, with no noticeable results. You may apply to hundreds of openings and end up receiving system generated automated rejection emails which will not even tell you the reason for rejection. The important thing is to not give up. A positive attitude and confidence in your abilities will show in everything that you do, and will make employers want to invest in you.
Resume and Cover Letter
Before you begin your applications, the tools that you will need handy are your resume and cover letter. Both these are your first and only chance to create an impact on the recruiter and if not drafted properly and judiciously, your efforts will definitely go into vain. You will end up wasting a lot of time figuring out what is going wrong. So before you begin, make sure that your resume and cover letter is up to the mark.
In the US the term resume is used instead of CV. Think of your resume as a marketing tool to persuade the employer to invite you for an interview. The resume should be adapted depending on the market that you wish to get the job in. You will most likely end up with multiple variations of your resume, depending on the type of job to which you will be applying. It is advisable to write a short profile or executive summary of yourself, using short and impactful sentences filled with action verbs and power-words, and start by clearly stating the objective and/or goal of your career.
In today’s world of e-mailed and scannable resumes, make sure you know the buzzwords of your industry and incorporate them into the sentences you are about to write. Keywords are the nouns or short phrases that describe your experience and education that might be used to find your resume in a keyword search of a resume database. They are the essential knowledge, abilities, and skills required to do your job. They are concrete descriptions like: C++, UNIX, fiber optic cable, network, project management, etc.
Things to consider:
- It is advisable to write a short profile or executive summary of yourself, using short and impactful sentences filled with action verbs and power-words, and start by clearly stating the objective and/or goal of your career.
- Mention relevant coursework, experiential learning projects, practicum courses with significant outcomes I your education section
- Acclimatize yourself with job descriptions similar to the kind of role you are seeking so that you can draft your resume accordingly
- Include a separate section of core competencies and make sure to tweak it depending on the skill sets required for the job you are applying
- Arrange your professional experiences in reverse chronological order with impactful contributions highlighted in bullet points. Never forget to quantify your outcomes as numbers are the only things which will stand out. Construct your bullet points in STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) Format
- Include any significant leadership or community experience that you may have
Remember all these should fit in 1 page. The first aim is to pass the scan test by software called Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and the best way to do this is to include key words from the job requirements and description in your resume to improve your match percentage among thousands of applicants. Also it will help create a good image in front of the recruiter who spends less than 7 seconds on an average while short listing resumes. You may have done achieved a lot in your career, but unless your KEYWORDS and NUMBERS are not there in your resume, you may not secure an interview invitation!
The Cover Letter
When applying for a job or internship, remember that future employers will (almost) always require a resume and cover letter, and that these documents your very first impression to both the employer and company. This is an excellent opportunity to clearly state to whom you are writing, what position you are interested in, why you are interested, and why the company would benefit from you being in their company. You should be able to talk about some of your experience and/or education that is specifically related to the company’s requirements, or elaborate on qualifications that are not in your resume but apply to this particular job. The cover letter should include multiple ways to get in touch with you, including your phone number and email address. Keep your letter short—no longer than a single page.
The Internet is the main source for vacancies and information concerning job applications. Search services such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Zip Recruiter and even Craigslist can be integral in your job search. However, avoid using job search services that charge you a fee. Most reputable services are free of charge.
Carefully read any job listings you come across before applying. Do not restrict yourself to one particular job title or profile. For example, if you are looking for a job in credit, you may want to search credit analyst, senior credit analyst, credit risk analyst, credit risk manager etc. It is also a good idea to cast a wide net by applying to any jobs you can see yourself in—even if you don’t meet all of the requirements. At worst, you will be turned down and at best, you’ll get an interview!
The best thing is to create a customized search in job portals using key words for job titles and the locality that you wish to work in and set a reminder to those portals will regularly send you notifications via mobile phone apps or emails with the latest openings.
You need to be relentless and apply to countless openings in a day. But there has to be a method to madness. Your preliminary research will come in handy here about the list of companies who generally sponsor work visas. These are generally the big ones or the MNCs. But even then, a particular company may not sponsor visas for all kinds of roles.
An MNC may sponsor a visa for a senior computer engineer role as the candidate probable has done a Masters in Computer Science and has 36 months of OPT (3 years for obtaining visa), but may not sponsor a visa for a financial analyst role as the candidate has most probably done an MBA and has only 12 months of OPT (1 year for obtaining visa).
Make sure to improve chances of networking and getting a job by attending local and national level job fairs. You can ask the career management team of your school to provide you a schedule of such fairs or you can find a list on the internet. You’ll have the opportunity to meet with employers that you might not be able to access any other way, plus job fairs and career expos often offer networking programs, resume reviews, and workshops for job seekers. Other than these, there are career fairs, information sessions and speaker series (alumni or non-alumni) organized in your school campus. You need to be aware of every event that is happening around you and take advantage of every networking opportunity.
Research the companies that are attending and shortlist the ones that you will target. Carry lots of resumes, business cards, a note pad and a pen. Dress well and arrive early. Show initiative and start networking. Have your Elevator Pitch prepared, be enthusiastic and ask questions. Take notes during your conversation as that shows your keen interest and exchange business cards at the end of your conversation. Take the time to send a brief follow-up thank-you note or email to the company representatives you met at the job fair. You never know, you might just end up with an interview at the job fair or later on!
The interview is by far the most nerve-wracking part of the job search process. This is why you should research as much as you can. Make sure you are familiar with the company’s goals and values; try to memorize a few key words from the company’s mission statement and use them in your interview. Arrange for mock interviews with your school’s career development team and evaluate their feedback. Be ready with a couple of intelligent questions to ask to the interviewer that shows your genuine interest.
The day of your interview, remember to dress your best, and bring several copies of your resume along with you. Provide specific examples and stories of your achievements when answering questions, and avoid criticizing former employers. Be pleasant and polite, but not too personal. Follow up your interview with a short thank you letter to your interviewer.
Management culture in the United States
It is very important to understand the management culture in the US.
- The organizational culture within American companies is strongly result orientated. They are only concerned with the work being done and not from where the work is done
- They value team work and collaboration. When something goes wrong, they don’t like to play the blame-game, but resolve the issue as a team and learn something out of it
- Companies are focused on direct results and short-term gains.
- Employees are motivated by their employers and there is little direct criticism in either direction. They also value regular interactions between managers and subordinates
- They prefer employees who are proactive, like to speak up in meetings and come up with suggestions to improve business processes
- They value long withstanding business relationships
- Americans are on a first-name basis with each other from the beginning