Job Search Workshop for International Students As the world becomes smaller with the globalization of markets, there is an increasing number of people seeking employment in the United States with various statuses…either a resident alien from another country who has received citizenship in the United States, or people who may be in the United States on various types of work or educational visas. Regardless of your status, seeking employment in the U.S. presents unique and different challenges. This online workshop has been developed to provide assistance and advice to students and alumni regarding the job-search process. You may face two major obstacles at the outset of the job search in the United States. The first is employment restrictions imposed by U.S. immigration regulations; the second is cultural differences that may affect a student’s ability to present successfully his or her qualifications to an employer. It is important for you to be aware of these difficulties and to be prepared to deal with them. To insure that you have the proper employment authorization (e.g., work and educational visas) from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), please visit Regis University’s International Student website or contact: Cathy Gorrell VA/International Student Counselor 303-458-417 Lisa Hertel International Student Services Coordinator 303-458-4116 Workshop Topic Overview Self-Assessment Resume/Cover Letter Interviewing Identifying Potential Employers Companies/Organizations that Have a Relationship with Your Home Country Local Chambers of Commerce International Companies Workshops and Career Fairs Employment Agencies Networking Additional Tips Resources Self-Assessment The first step in a successful job search is an honest, thorough evaluation of your values, interests, personal and financial needs, and short and long term goals. You should be aware that the goals you brought with you to the U.S. might have changed since you moved here. You should 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 study in the United States? How have these goals changed? What are my short and long term career goals? Am I geographically restricted for any reason? Are finances a consideration? If so in what ways? 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 Regis University Career Services. Contact us for an appointment at the Lowell, Boulder, Broomfield, DTC or Ft. Collins campus or online. Career Services at Regis University 3333 Regis Boulevard, Mail Stop F-12 Denver, Colorado 80221 303-458-3508 or 1-800-388-2366 x3508 Career Services Resume/Cover Letter After you complete your self-assessment, the next step is to prepare a resume. The professional staff at the Career Services office can assist you in preparing a resume. An American resume is different from a resume you might prepare for employment in your home country. A resume for employment in the U.S. is an advertisement for you in terms of your abilities, accomplishments, and future capabilities. Essentially, it will be your chief marketing tool in your job-search campaign. An effective resume will make a prospective employer want to meet you in person to discuss your potential value to his or her organization. Above all, your resume should be honest, positive, concise, and easy to read. For more information about preparing your resume, please refer to our resume section. A cover letter often 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 and knowledge to an employing organization. Presenting yourself effectively "on paper" is an important and ongoing process 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 letter section on the Career Services website. Additional helpful websites for Resume and Cover Letter writing are: Owl Online Writing Lab Cover letter, introduction International Student.com Resources, Services, and Study Abroad Information Monster Work Abroad, Information and services about working in the U.S. and other countries JobWeb, Devoted to helping students with career development and the job search. You can find articles and practical advice on preparing CVs, cover letters, job and internship interviews, United States immigration formalities, international experience, etc. Interviewing Personal interaction plays a key role in securing a job in many countries, including the United States. Interviews do not serve the same function in all countries, though, and it is important to be prepared to conduct an American style interview. In the United States, the interview provides the employer with the chance to interact personally with a potential employee. It is seen as an opportunity for job seekers to "market themselves" to the employer. You are expected to be comfortable talking about your accomplishments, to demonstrate familiarity with the company and the job description, and to confidently persuade the employer that you are the best person for the position. The United States style of presenting oneself to a prospective employer may seem brash or boastful to people from some cultures, but it will be necessary to adapt to the United States norm in order to compete successfully for positions. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, communication skills are the top characteristic employers seek in job applicants in the United States. The interview is your opportunity to show the employer that you are comfortable using English and that you can communicate effectively. If you are interested in improving your English skills, try some of these suggestions: join multinational student clubs, volunteer to give presentations, or join a local chapter of Toastmasters International. Toastmasters International is a great way to improve your communication skills. Lose your fears of public speaking and learn skills that will help you be more successful in whatever path you have chosen in life. Body language or non-verbal communication is extremely important, and you may need to look at everything from how you walk into a room to the posture you adopt when sitting at a table. Practice your firm, professional handshake and eye contact in order to greet your prospective employer with confidence. This form of communication gets easier with practice. Career Services offers an interview workshop three times a year and provides an opportunity for you to do a videotaped practice interview with feedback. You can find helpful interview information on the Career Services website. Additional helpful websites for Interviewing are: Riley Guide, Second Interviews PDF files on various interview topics Interview Net, Bank of interview questions along with articles and tips Interview Network, Bank of interview questions by subject or keyword Identifying Potential Employers After you have prepared your resume and cover letter, it is time to identify potential employers. Some employers are interested in hiring those with international credentials whether for a practical training experience or full-time employment, and others 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 application or interview 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 non-immigrant 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: 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 in our Dayton Memorial Library on the Lowell campus that will help you identify these potential employers. They are the Directory of American Firms Operating in Foreign Countries and the Directory of Foreign Firms Operating in the United States. You can ask the Reference Librarian to assist you in locating these directories. Or, check with the library staff at your local public library. 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. Cleveland's Chamber of Commerce, for example, publishes the Greater Cleveland International Trade Directory that identifies medium- to small-sized companies in the Cleveland area that trade with countries all over the world. Most major cities now have companies that are establishing trade relationships with foreign countries, and you can identify chambers of commerce through the World Chamber of Commerce Directory. 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. Check the Dayton Memorial Library or public libraries in your area for various international employer directories and resources such as the Directory of American Firms Operating in Foreign Countries and the Directory of Foreign Firms Operating in the United States. Workshops and Career Fairs The Career Services office 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, networking, interviewing techniques, and job-search strategies, the Career Services office sponsors a career fair in October and February on-campus 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 "practice interview" service to improve your interviewing skills. All you need to do is call and make an appointment. Employment Agencies Be wary of any employment agency that promises you the job of your dreams in an American company where you always wanted to work. Any agency that charges you a fee to help you identify job opportunities should be avoided. Many organizations 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, employment agencies are of little help to inexperienced graduates seeking entry-level positions. Networking You probably have heard something about "networking" as a job-search strategy. In the United States, the primary way people get professional positions is through networking. Networking involves establishing relationships with people who can help you in your job search. People in your network can help you discover the 70%-80% of professional jobs that are never advertised. Below are listed important steps necessary for building a successful network. 1. Who is your network? You can begin the networking process by meeting with your academic advisor, professors, and friends. They may be aware of job openings for which you may be eligible or know of organizations interested in hiring someone with an international background. At first, you may only be able to think of a few people, but in reality you know many more people who can help you. Additional people who can help you are: Neighbors Relatives Clergy Merchants Co-workers Former co-workers School leaders Employers Doctors, dentists Bankers Friends’ friends Professional acquaintances People with whom you have worked in community organizations 2. How do you ask these people for help? When you ask someone for help you need to provide four types of information: A. Tell the person that you are looking for work and why: Examples: “I have a job, but I would really rather work with computers.” “My company had a big cut-back and I was recently laid off.” B. State why that person is in a position to give you leads. Examples: “You know so many people, you probably hear about a lot of things.” (to a socially active friend) “You know me pretty well, and I’d like to consider a job in the same industry as your organization. Is there someone in your company I could talk with about my field and how it relates to this industry?” (to a friend who works in a place where you would like to work) C. Briefly describe your skills. Examples: “I have a great deal of experience in Human Resources.” “I have a degree in business and would like a management trainee position.” D. Tell the person what kind of help you need from him/her. Examples: “Have you heard of any openings in my field?” “Do you know of anyone in my field I could talk to about possible jobs?” “Can I use your name as a reference?” “Can I use your name when I call your company to arrange a talk with the director of marketing?” Where do you network? There are many places that are good arenas for networking – a few ideas: Career seminars Career fairs Church gatherings Clubs Family gatherings Professional association meetings* Parties School functions Conferences Look in newspapers for calendar of events *Dayton Memorial Library has listing of professional organizations. 3. What action do you take when networking provides you with a good contact? Once you have a name of a contact call him/her and ask for an appointment. Be honest and state that you are looking for work in accounting (or whatever) and would like to talk with him/her about the trends and possible openings in your field. Be sure to mention the name of the person who referred you. Often employers will tell you that they don’t have an immediate opening and suggest you call personnel. Don’t be pushed off to personnel. Explain that while a position may not be currently available, the opportunity to talk with him/her is just as valuable, and that you would need only a half-hour meeting. Remember that the goals of this meeting are to (1) get information about the field and job openings (anywhere, not just in the employer’s company) and (2) let the employer meet you and connect a face to the resume. When you meet with your contact, let him/her know exactly what you are looking for and get suggestions for your job search. Some questions you might want to ask are: Do you think my resume is suitable for this type of position? What local firms are most likely to have this kind of position? Do you belong to a professional organization? How can I get in touch with the local chapter? Can you suggest directories and other printed resources about employers in this field? Can you suggest sources where I might obtain job listings or announcements for this type of work? Can you refer me to others in the field who might be available to provide me with additional assistance? When I call, may I use your name? What qualifications do you seek in a new hire? Which of my skills are strong compared to other job hunters in this field? Never conclude a meeting without asking the contact to refer you to someone else. Don’t ask the contact for a job. It tends to make the employer uncomfortable and defensive. You are asking them for information. If they have an opening or know of one, they will tell you. This is how you hear about those 70-80% of good jobs that are never advertised. Leave your resume with the contact when you leave. Always follow up with a thank you note. It is important to once again have the contact think about you and your skills. Also, it is a good idea to keep a record of your contacts- date, name of contact, name of company/association, what was discussed at the meeting, and to whom they referred you. It gets difficult to keep straight whom you saw and what you discussed after you have seen three or four employers. Looking back at your records can be very helpful. 4. The Importance of Follow Up The #1 rule of networking is to stay in touch! Write a brief thank you note to those you meet Mention that you will update each person periodically Follow-up when you say you will. Opportunities for follow-up include: * sending a thank you note * sending a revised resume * sending a note to thank them for a referral you have contacted Keep track of your correspondence with each person in your network, including dates and details of answering machine messages and telephone conversations, questions and answers from information interviews, notes from office visits, dates you have agreed to follow-up, etc. 5. The Next Step Networking is a continual life long process. When you are networking always ask for the next step in gaining information about your field during your follow up process. When casually networking ask for an information interview. After an information interview ask if you can visit or job shadow in the individual’s organization. When visiting an office, offer to voluntarily help out with a project or ask about internship possibilities. While serving an internship inquire about potential full-time job opportunities. Display an interest and passion in working for the organization. 6. Making Networking Events a Success Be Prepared, Look Professional When attending a networking or other professional event you will meet lots of people in a very short time and will want to make a good impression. Have a place to stow business cards. Consider creating and bringing your own business cards. Come prepared to jot notes in a small notebook or palm pilot. Most networking events involve food and drinks. Consider balancing a notebook under your plate or keeping a palm pilot in your pocket or purse. Don’t carry both a drink and a plate at the same time. You will need at least one hand free at all times in order to shake hands with the people you meet. Your dress should be professional, sharp, and modest (no distracting colors or patterns, plunging or open necklines, low buttoned blouses, tight or transparent shirts, bare midriffs, excess jewelry, strong aftershave or perfume). Remember networking is not the only means of finding a job. It should be used along with other recognized job search strategies. Informational Interviews Informational interviewing is a form of networking and is another technique that can help you establish further contacts, and clarify most effective networking strategies. 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. Steps for conducting a successful Information Interview: What do I need to know to have a successful information interview? Sometimes the phrase “information interviewing” may sound uninviting to your network contacts, as it sounds very similar to an “interview” for an employment position. You may wish to ask for an “information meeting” instead. Please remember to use the information interview as an opportunity to gather information and seek advice, not to ask outright for an internship or employment opportunity. It is often appropriate, however, to ask the person you speak with for advice on ways you might pursue employment or internship opportunities in your field of interest and give specifics about your search. Information interviewing can benefit your career planning process in many ways. You will: Gain current, field-specific career information. Begin forming a professional network. Expand your job market knowledge. Find out about job or career paths that you may not have known exist. Find out what you should be doing to be competitive in today's market. Learn a skill that can assist in employment interviews and on the job. Preparing for Information Interviewing Before you jump into this valuable exercise, you will need to have a solid understanding of who you are (self-assessment) and a basic understanding of your fields of interest (career exploration). If you have not explored these issues, please contact Regis Career Services to begin this process. Once you have started the career planning process, information interviewing can be extremely valuable. What follows are steps to arrange your information interviews. 1) Compile a list of questions that you would like answered. There are sample questions on this page. Questions can also come from your self-assessment and career exploration activities. Use open-ended questions. 2) Prepare a letter of inquiry and telephone script. A sample of each can be found on this page. 3) Develop your contact list. Write down names of friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbors, employers and others you can think of who may be able to provide information or additional names of people who can. Career Services can also be a source of contacts. 4) Contact individuals on your list. These contacts should be treated with respect as experts in the field. Stay true to your original intent of contacting them for information. 5) Arrange a meeting (if a face-to-face meeting is feasible.) Set aside sufficient time to cover your agenda without taking too much of your contact's time. Arrange a mutually convenient location or time to talk on the phone. 6) Be prepared when you meet. Prioritize your list of questions. Start with a topic that is easy to discuss to build rapport. Remember to listen. Avoid interrupting the person. Make brief notes. Give the person the opportunity to ask you questions at the end of the interview. 7) Send a thank you note. Thank the person for setting aside time to meet with you and mention one or two things that really stood out as valuable pieces of information that you gained. Letters of Inquiry You may choose letters, emails, or telephone calls to connect with your prospects. Occasionally, letters are preferred because they arrive before your call and appear more business-like. This will also give you a reference point when you call to set up a meeting. Your letters should be perfect. All names should be spelled correctly and there should be no grammatical errors. Have a friend, English major, Career Services, or professor review the letter prior to sending it. The content of your letter, however, is most important. Tell the person how you got his/her name, who you are, what you want, how they can help you, and your follow up plan. Sending a resume with this letter will supply the contact with helpful background information on you. A sample letter is shown below. October 1, 2004 Mr. Andrew Jones Accounting Services 77 W. 11th Street Denver, Colorado 80001 Dear Mr. Jones: Your name came to my attention while I was researching the field of accounting as a possible career path. At this time, I am exploring a variety of career opportunities as a way to discover the ones that would be most appropriate for my interests and skills. I am in my second year at Regis University and I am researching career options as well as seeking out information on experiences that will enhance my marketability upon graduation. During the summer, I had the opportunity to work as an accountant assistant for a small private accounting firm. I found this work to be challenging and rewarding. Based on your knowledge of the field, you could help me considerably by providing information on skills required, typical employers, and preparation strategies for success in the field. Within the next week, I will contact you to arrange a mutually convenient time for us to meet. I know you are very busy, and I will keep our meeting to twenty minutes. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Jake Masters Telephone Scripts Write a script that best suits your situation. Practice your script on a friend before calling your contact people so you are comfortable with the conversation. Also allow for revisions according to the circumstances. "Hello, my name is Allen Smith. I am calling to follow up on a letter I sent last week. Do you have a few minutes? I am calling to arrange an information meeting with you to discuss my interest in the investments field. I would like to meet with you one day next week. Do you have 20 minutes next Wednesday? (Contact suggests time.) I look forward to meeting with you on _________." (Verify the address, date and time before you end the conversation.) Occasionally, the people that you call will not have the time to meet with you. Here is a sample script to handle that interaction. "Hello, My name is Allison Smith. I am calling to follow up on a letter I sent last week. Do you have a few minutes? I am calling to arrange an information meeting with you to discuss my interest in information technology. I would like to meet with you one day next week. (Contact indicates they are not able to meet with you.) I appreciate you telling me that. Is there anyone else you would recommend I contact? (Contact offers another business associate.) Thank you very much for recommending Ms. Anderson. May I tell her you suggested that I call? Again, I thank you for your time." If your contact person indicates that they are unable to meet with you because they are busy, you may want to offer to take them to lunch as an alternative to meeting during their business hours. Again, always send a thank you note, even to those who are unable to meet with you (especially if they offer another name.) They could provide information in the future and will appreciate your respect for their expertise and time. Sample Questions The questions that you ask should be those that relate to your values, interests, and skills previously identified. The list below is not exhaustive; please add your own. Select those 10-12 questions that most need answering. Try not to overwhelm your contact person. How did you become interested in __________? What kind of advice would you give someone entering this field? What kind of educational preparation would one need to get started in __________? What do you do on a typical day? On an atypical day? What are the most interesting aspects of your work? What kind of challenges do you anticipate facing in the next year? What personal characteristics or qualities would describe someone successful in this field? What are the advancement opportunities in this field? Are there professional associations or organizations that you are expected to join? Would there be any that you would recommend joining? What future trends do you see occurring in this field? What type of training do hiring organizations offer to persons entering this field? How did you locate this opportunity? How does working in this field affect one's lifestyle? If you had the opportunity to start over, what, if anything, would you do differently? Are there other job titles that I should be investigating that are comparable to __________? What are the entry-level opportunities at this organization? What is the "need to know" information about this field? Where would be the best place for me to find it? Can you offer names of other people in this field I may contact for further information? Always thank them at the end of the appointment. Adapted from Information Interviewing: How to Tap Your Hidden Job Market, by Martha Stoodley, 1997. 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 employers’ 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 According to one recent report, more than 53 percent of international survey respondents received 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 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. Regis University has internship-for-credit programs for Regis College students and College for Professional Studies (CPS) Undergraduate students. See the Career Services web page, Internships Sectionfor information on both internship-for-credit programs. Explore Occupations in Need of International Students According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS), in the 2003 fiscal year H-1B petitions were approved in the following areas: Systems Analysis and Programming (33.5 percent), College and University Education (7.8 percent), Accountants and Related Occupations (4.8 percent), Electrical/Electronics Engineering (3.9 percent). 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. Carefully Approach the Topic of H1-B Visas with Employers Many employers are intimidated by the U.S. immigration process and are reluctant to sponsor H1-B visas, or simply have a policy against it. Do not begin an employment interview or letter with an inquiry regarding H1-B sponsorship. Discussions about H1-B sponsorship should come later, either when the employer brings it up or when you are offered the position. Your first task in an interview is to convince the employer of your suitability for the job. Only later, when the employer is close to making, or has made an offer, should you raise the H1-B sponsorship issue. Be Flexible You may need to expand your job search by considering jobs outside your desired career field or location. For example, an Information Technology major who would like work in Web development may want to search for jobs in Web development as well as other areas of information technology. Need Help? If you would like individual assistance, do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with a Career Counselor at the Career Services office by calling 303-458-3508 or 1-800-388-2366-3508. Office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Appointments are available after 5 p.m. several days a week. For more information and to schedule an appointment call 303-458-3508. For additional information about Career Services, please refer to our website. Or send an email to Career Services. Regis University Career Services 3333 Regis Blvd. F-12 Denver, CO 80221 Additional Resources: The Riley Guide International Career Employment Hotline Hoovers, IMDiversity American Immigration Council Welcome to the United States Guide for New Immigrants, U.S. Department of State, American Immigration Lawyers Association, FirstGov-The U.S. Government’s Official Web Portal, America’s Job Bank, International Student.com, Salary Information, Summary statements of many American Occupations, The Wall Street Journal, Thank you for particiating in the Job Search Workshop for International Students. If you have questions or want to schedule an appointment with a career counselor, contact Career Services at 303-458-3508.