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Job Search Strategies for

International Students

Western Michigan University

 Career & Student Employment Services©

 Office of International Student and

Scholar Services

Authored by:
Jin Abe, M.A., LPC, NCC
Admissions/Program Coordinator

Lisa Walker, M.A., LLPC The workshop slides and handouts are reproducible only
with permission from Western Michigan University’s
Career Advisor Career & Student Employment Office
Learning Objectives
 Implement a Targeted Job Search
 How to Approach Employers
 Answer Behavior Based Questions
 Understand Employment Eligibility : “Visa issues”
Upcoming events
Get It Together
 Next week (Jan.27-31)
 Career and Student Employment Services and various campus locations
 Resume critique, interview preparations

Career Fair
 Thursday, Feb. 6, 10-4 p.m.
 Bernhard Center 2F

Job Search Support Group for International Students

 Bi-weekly group meeting starting Feb. 11
 OISS conference room
 In-depth discussion group on becoming effective job searchers
What IS a career?
Work to live Live to work

 Mostly for money  Not for money only

 May not be gaining  Gaining relevant
relevant experience experiences for the
 “Just get it done” next step
 The output matters

A career is….
 A way to express/actualize yourself
 A way to turn your experience into asset/worth
 Your contribution to the world
A career in the U.S.:
Reality, or dream?
What employers seek
 Interpersonal skills (Leadership,
 Relevant experiences Job search activities
 Industry-specific skills and  Participation in campus activities
knowledge  Approaching companies through
internship early on
 Attending job fairs and
For int’l students networking over time
 Average length of study: 2-2.5 yrs
 Work authorization fairly limited
It’s a
 Language stereotypes
 Current sentiment against “non-
immigrants” time
Part I:
U.S. Job Search Strategies

 Stages of job search

 Controllable factors in your search
 Setting goals
 Targeting your search
 Preparing the proper tools
 Where to find job openings
 Search Strategies
 Implementation

Career & Student Employment

Where are you in
your job search process?
 Just Beginning
 Information Gathering
 Resume Writing
 Interview Preparation
 Interviewing
 Follow Up
 Getting Job Offers
Goal Setting

 Define specific career goal(s) you wish

to pursue
– What are my interests?
– What do I value on the job?
– What are my greatest personality assets?
– What are my abilities
– What can I offer an employer?
Target: Where Do You Want to Work?

With your desired

location in mind:
 Where can you afford to
 What employers are
located there?
 What economic trends
are likely to affect you?
 What job search
resources are available?
Job Search Tools
 Resume
 Cover letter
 Portfolio (if applicable)
 Interviewing skills
– Know yourself
– Know your goals
– Know the employer
Where to find job openings
A typical job-
hunter likes to
start up here
“OK, I’ll
 Postings place an ad”

– WWW, Classified ads “I will use

recruiters to find
 Organized recruiting outstanding
– Fair, Search firms
“Hire someone whose
 Who you know work I’ve seen or heard”

– Professors, internship
A typical employer prefers to
fill vacancies this way
Search Strategies
* Select the Mix of Strategies for You*
 Register with Bronco JOBS!
 Utilize WMU Career & Student
Employment Services:
– On Campus Recruiting
– Career Fairs
– Workshops
– Resume Critiquing
– Satellite offices for Career Advising (see website)
Search Strategies Continued

 Internet and the WWW

 Letter Campaigns
 Classified Ads
 Employment Agencies
 Professional Association Meetings
 Referral and Networking
 Target employers
 Research information
 Set daily action plan
 Use record keeping system
 Follow up
 Be consistent and persistent
Sample: Record of
Employer Contacts
Company: address phone, fax Position Contact Person Resume Sent Response Interview Date Follow-Up
Part II:
Navigating the Career Fair

 Why attend?
 Appropriate expectations of the career
 Professional interactions
 Tips for the Career Fair
Why attend?
 Trying it out; a part of ongoing learning process
 Make mistakes now so you don’t have to do that
when it really matters
 Avoid Typical mistakes
– Copying resume at Kinko’s at 3 a.m. the day before
– Coming to the fair in the afternoon
– Asking company rep “so, can you tell me about your
– Checking out the ladies/guys
– “Freebie” hunters
– Going around as a couple (or with “buddies”)
Appropriate expectations
 Generally, it is better to attend the fair in the
afternoon to meet more people (T or F)

 CF is a place to find a job/job leads (T or F)

 Company representatives are expected to be

(T or F)

 Company policies may prohibit hiring international

students (T or F)
Professional interactions
 Personable, personal approach is important

 CF is a place for you to “practice” professional

interactions – taking responsibility for keeping
the conversation going.

 Know the company so you can engage in a

dialogue, not a speech
Tips for Career Fairs
 Dress professional if seeking  Ask the preferred way to follow-
employment /business casual if up.
gathering information  Afterwards: follow-up by
 Review/research who’s coming sending applications, resumes
( to companies you are serious
 Select/visit top 5 employers you about/qualified. Mention you
that interest you most met representative at CF
 Bring several copies of your  File away the literature you
resume (keep in simple have collected. It can be
portfolio/folder – no backpack) helpful later to prepare for
 Maintain professional space application letters and
 Ask open-ended questions (but
avoid asking about salary)
Part III:
Job interview: Why should I hire you?

 General interview flow

 Self promotion
 Self disclosure
 Asking for the next step
 Dress codes
 Playing fair
General Interview Flow
 Arrive 10-15 minutes before interview
 Greetings
 Small Talk
 Interview
 Be prepared to ask your own questions
 Ask for business cards to use in follow-
up thank you letter
Self Promotion
Interviewers are looking for your
 Skills  Fit with the
– Industry-specific workplace
knowledge – Open
– Planning and mindedness
organization skills – Team
– Communication skills orientation
– Problem solving skills – Initiatives
– Personality

“Why should I hire

 What’s the meaning of “illegal
questions I do need NOT

 Does this mean I shouldn’t

disclose personal information at

 When do you bring up the hiring

process of “foreign nationals?”
What’s the Next Step?
 It is OK to ask (and is expected)...

– “I’m interested to know what the next steps


– “When shall I expect to hear from you?”

Dress codes

 Professional
 Business casual
 Casual
 When in doubt, err
on the safe side
Playing fair
 Provide accurate and honest information
 Interview sincerely
 Make informed choices
 Honor schedules and commitments
 Be prompt in response to employers
 Accept an offer in good faith
 Withdraw from the search process once you
have accepted an offer

Career & Student Employment

Part IV:
De-mystify the hiring process
 Work authorization Basics

 Points of emphasis

 OPT to H-1B: The process

Work authorization basics
 CPT- Curricular Practical Training
– to meet curriculum requirements – not simply to obtain work
– internship/practicum must be required by the program of study

 OPT- Optional Practical Training

– Up to one year of work authorization under F-1 status after
completing a higher degree
– Must apply BEFORE the completion of study

 H-1B – work authorization for specialty occupations

– 3+3 = 6 years
– Unlike OPT, it is not a “sure thing”
– 65,000 H-1B authorized per year
OPT to H-1B: The process
 Get a job offer while on OPT
 Information Gathering (2-3 weeks)
 Wage Determination (1-2 week)
– Determined by State Employment Service Agency whether an
employer offer meets the minimum wage (95%) of the going rate
 Labor Condition Application (1 day)
– Approval from Dept. of Labor based on minimum wage
 H-1B Petition with INS (2-4 months)
– Between the INS and the employer
– Job position must be deemed “specialty” occupation (i.e. special
field requiring a bachelor's degree or more)
– H-1B beneficiary (student) has the academic background to fulfill
that specialty requirement
– Work experience not essential to fulfill the specialty requirement
– $130 for application, paid by an employer (plus $1,000 more for
optional 14-day “express” service)
Points of emphasis when
educating the employers
 Frame your response to emphasize there’s
life after 1 year OPT

 Avoid using terms like “OPT”, “H-1B”

 De-mystify the immigration process in a plain

language (to do this, you need to know what
you are talking about)

 Time is money – get it done ASAP

 Prepare early -- it’s a challenging time
 Choose a mix of strategies
 Attend fairs to learn professional interactions
 Interview patterns can be learned and mastered
 Know your work authorization processes so you
can educate your employers
Reminder: Upcoming events
Get It Together
 Next week (Jan.27-31)
 Career and Student Employment Services and various campus locations
 Resume critique, interview preparations

Career Fair
 Thursday, Feb. 6, 10-4 p.m.
 Bernhard Center 2F

Job Search Support Group for International Students

 Bi-weekly group meeting starting Feb. 11
 OISS conference room
 In-depth discussion group on becoming effective job searchers