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 Career Advisor
The workshop slides and handouts are reproducible only with permission from Western Michigan University’s Career & Student Employment Office

Learning Objectives
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Implement a Targeted Job Search How to Approach Employers Answer Behavior Based Questions Understand Employment Eligibility : “Visa issues”

Upcoming events
Get It Together

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Next week (Jan.27-31) Career and Student Employment Services and various campus locations Resume critique, interview preparations

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

Job Search Support Group for International Students
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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
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Live to work
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Mostly for money May not be gaining relevant experience “Just get it done”

Not for money only Gaining relevant experiences for the next step The output matters

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A way to express/actualize yourself A way to turn your experience into asset/worth Your contribution to the world

A career is….

A career in the U.S.: Reality, or dream?
What employers seek
Interpersonal skills (Leadership, communications)  Relevant experiences  Participation in campus activities  Industry-specific skills and knowledge  Approaching companies through internship early on  Attending job fairs and networking over time Average length of study: 2-2.5 yrs Work authorization fairly limited It’s a Language stereotypes Challenging Current sentiment against “nontime immigrants”

Job search activities

For int’l students
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Part I: U.S. Job Search Strategies
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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 Services

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 – What – What – What – What are my interests? do I value on the job? are my greatest personality assets? are my abilities can I offer an employer?

Target: Where Do You Want to Work?
With your desired location in mind: Where can you afford to look? What employers are located there? What economic trends are likely to affect you? What job search resources are available?

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Job Search Tools
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Resume Cover letter Portfolio (if applicable) Interviewing skills
– Know yourself – Know your goals – Know the employer

Where to find job openings
A typical jobhunter likes to start up here

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– WWW, Classified ads

“OK, I’ll place an ad”

Organized recruiting
– Fair, Search firms

“I will use recruiters to find outstanding candidate” “Hire someone whose work I’ve seen or heard”

Who you know
– 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


Internet and the WWW  Letter Campaigns  Classified Ads  Employment Agencies  Professional Association Meetings  Referral and Networking


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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 fair  Professional interactions  Tips for the Career Fair

Why attend?
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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 company?” – 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 talkative (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

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Dress professional if seeking employment /business casual if gathering information Review/research who’s coming ( Select/visit top 5 employers you that interest you most Bring several copies of your resume (keep in simple portfolio/folder – no backpack) Maintain professional space Ask open-ended questions (but avoid asking about salary)

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Ask the preferred way to followup. Afterwards: follow-up by sending applications, resumes to companies you are serious about/qualified. Mention you met representative at CF File away the literature you have collected. It can be helpful later to prepare for application letters and interviews.

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 followup thank you letter

Self Promotion
Interviewers are looking for your

– Industry-specific knowledge – Planning and organization skills – Communication skills – Problem solving skills

Fit with the workplace
– Open mindedness – Team orientation – Initiatives – Personality


“Why should I hire you?”


What’s the meaning of “illegal questions I do need NOT answer”?
Does this mean I shouldn’t disclose personal information at all? 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 are.” – “When shall I expect to hear from you?”

Dress codes
Professional  Business casual  Casual  When in doubt, err on the safe side

Playing fair
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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 Services

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 experience. – 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
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Get a job offer while on OPT Information Gathering (2-3 weeks) Wage Determination (1-2 week)

Labor Condition Application (1 day)

– Determined by State Employment Service Agency whether an employer offer meets the minimum wage (95%) of the going rate – Approval from Dept. of Labor based on minimum wage determination – 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)

H-1B Petition with INS (2-4 months)

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

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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

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