Job Search Resources for International Students

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1 Job Search Resources for International Students Returning Home The differences from a United States job search Are you considering returning home after your studies? In addition to preparing for your relocation, it is also important to learn the basic steps of job searching in the United States cultural environment. Learning how to present your skills and abilities effectively is one crucial element of any job search. The way in which this is accomplished may differ from place to place. You might write a one-page resume for your U.S. job search, but you may need to provide more detailed information if you were looking for employment in the U.K. or Latin America. Finally, the way in which you present yourself in interview settings also may differ drastically depending upon your location. The critical thing to remember is that every country is different. Become familiar with the job search rules of etiquette and protocol in your home country and let them be your guide. Before you begin your job search, it is important to think through how you have changed, and what those changes mean for your personal and professional goals. Try to recall the original goals you had for going overseas to study they helped you get where you are now. Did you set these goals yourself? Have they changed? Are the original goals for your professional future still valid? Or, on the basis of your experience abroad have you established new goals for the next stage of your life? You must be as explicit as possible in defining your professional goals. The clearer you are about where you want to go, the more likely you are to get there. The following information is meant to serve as a resource guide as you begin your return home or relocation to another country. Libraries Career Services offers a variety of resources in the Resource Library that can assist you with relocating and finding employment in another country. Additionally, the Mansfield Library and the Missoula Public Library are good sources of information to assist you in your efforts. Make use of the reference librarians! Often information you will be looking for is catalogued within a rather complex filing system. Instead of giving up, ask for assistance. Materials are probably available that you are not even aware of. Lommasson Center Revised 9/09 1

2 Resources on the Internet Career Services also provides access to different resources on the web under the heading Internet Job Search Sites. Additionally, The Riley Guide is an excellent resource on International Job Opportunities. It should be noted that the organizations referenced in these web pages are in no way endorsed by the Office of Career Services, they are simply provided for informational purposes. Utilize Networking Resources Networking is the process of establishing contacts with individuals in various positions in your field of interest who will directly or indirectly assist you in your job search. The intent behind networking is to gain knowledge about the needs and opportunities in your field in your home country and to make yourself known to influential individuals who have the power to hire you. For students who are returning home, they are also encouraged to reconnect with family and friends who are residing in the country of origin prior to their arrival. Not only will this assist with your transition back into the home country environment, these people may also serve as key resources in helping you prepare for the job search process. Additionally, connecting with professional associations in your home country is an excellent resource for networking with professionals. Virtually every field has national and international professional societies, such as the American Political Science Association, the American Society of Petroleum Engineers, etc. Many of the national organizations have international divisions and/or international membership. Make the most of your academic advisors and other faculty members in your department. Although many professors and staff members are willing to be of assistance, it is your responsibility to initiate the communication process. Don t be shy! Besides providing academic advice, faculty members may be able to help you locate and initiate contacts with professionals who shared your academic and professional interests. The University of Montana Alumni Association and Career Services Ask-an-Alum Networking Program are two examples of great opportunities to network with other fellow alumni of the institution. However, we would strongly discourage you from asking your networking contacts for a job offer. Networking etiquette dictates that it is preferable to use your resources to find out about career opportunities through indirect referrals and information. Conducting an information interview is an essential part of the networking process. Resumes for International Students Generally speaking, there are some major differences between U.S. resumes and resume formats from different countries. These differences do not apply to all countries. It is important that you become familiar with the accepted resume formats of your home country or the country that you are seeking work in. A suggestion is to look at job search information web sites from your home country or visit the web sites of Career Services offices at colleges/universities in your home country. 2

3 U.S. Resume Concise, attractive marketing tool summarizes jobs, skills, accomplishments, and academic background relevant to employment objective One to two pages maximum Does not include age, gender, marital status, number and age of you children, race, religion or your photo May or may not include completion of military service depending upon whether it is relevant or makes the person a stronger candidate International Resume Chronologically details academic and formal work experience Sometimes two or more pages Sometimes includes age, gender, marital status, number and age of you children, race, religion and your photo Sometimes includes completion of military service In whatever form it takes, the resume is the document that makes the all important first impression on potential employers. Writing your resume helps you to clarify career objectives, skills, and the knowledge you ve gained from past educational, work and volunteer experiences. Your goal should be to convey the professional qualities and accomplishments that qualify you for a particular job. Remember that this is the initial impression a potential employer has of you. It is worth extra time and energy to make your resume as favorable to your candidacy as possible. Interviewing for International Students There are several major differences that may be found between job interviews in the U.S. and job interviews in foreign countries. U.S. Interview Be punctual. Arrive 5 to 15 minutes prior to appointment. Eye contact is expected and shows confidence. Interviewer styles vary. May begin with direct questions or minimal small talk. Interviewer may do most of the talking or may expect the candidate to do most of the talking. Questions regarding protected categories such as age, race, sex, and marital status are illegal. Direct questions regarding competency, experience. 3 International Interview Personal relationships may be more important than time. Being late may not be a problem. Eye contact, especially with persons of higher status, may be disrespectful. Interviewers commonly start with small talk and look for information regarding character or personality. Interviewer may talk for the majority of the interview. Age, race, sex, or marital status may be issues in the interview. Males may be expected to dominate interactions with females. Younger people may be expected to show deference to older people. Indirect questions regarding competency, experience.

4 Open discussion of accomplishments and skills shows confidence. Show clear self knowledge, career goals and long-term plans NOTE: It may be important to be flexible, however, to initially obtain employment. Interviewer may expect immediate competency and look at each new employee for a 2 to 5 year commitment. Self-disclosure of strengths, weaknesses, personality, leadership style, problemsolving abilities, etc. may be appropriate. Researching the organization and demonstrating the knowledge during the interview is expected. Shows initiative and interest. Acceptable to ask an employer at the close of the interview where they are in the interview process and when the candidate can expect to hear back from them. Inquiring about the status of an application after the interview is acceptable and demonstrates interest in the position. Citing accomplishments and skills might be considered boastful, self-serving, or too individualistic. Jobs may be assigned by government or family. Questioning one s role in a company may be seen as disloyal. Companies sometimes assign work and expect individuals to accept what is available. Interviewer may not expect immediate competence and instead be looking for a long-term employee. Personal questions regarding such issues might be considered an invasion of privacy. Researching an organization in advance may show too much initiative and independence. Asking an employer during an interview where they are in the interview process and when you can expect to hear back from them may be seen as too forward. Inquiring about the status of an application after the interview may be seen as rude. Students are sometimes startled by interview questions asked by potential employers. To avoid being surprised in an interview, it is worth your while to study the possible questions you may be asked and formulate appropriate answers prior to the interview session. In addition to answering questions from the employer, the interviewer may expect that you also have some questions. This often promotes a conversational atmosphere and reduces the tension of the dialogue that can occur in traditional interviews. When you ask questions, it suggests that you are truly interested, listening, and digesting the information about the employer. Be prepared with several well-focused questions, and wait for natural openings in the conversation or when the interviewer prompts you to ask them. To locate further information about resumes, cover letters, job search techniques and interviewing, Career Services has resource handouts available on these and other topics. Re-entry Transitions Returning to your home country involves two transitions: moving from the student world to the employment world, and adjusting from U.S. norms and values. The job search back home occurs in the context of a psychological readjustment to life in your home country. Most of us believe that returning home is easier than going abroad. After all, you are home! You will no longer be a foreign student coping with life on a far away campus and its larger society. Following are some 4

5 of the factors that affect the level of reverse culture shock you will experience. You can use them to anticipate which issues may be troublesome for you. Age and academic level. Older students or professionals who were well established in their fields before their sojourn abroad sometimes experience a less troubled re-entry than younger students who left home as teenagers. However, there is a degree of adjustment that occurs in the workplace. Comparison between the two countries will occur. Older students or professionals might have to re-think their position in their field. Younger students are more likely to adopt the second country culture rather than selectively integrate it with their own cultural or personal beliefs. Once home, younger students tend to compare home country traditions and practices unfavorably with their overseas experience, increasing their feelings of alienation. It is a normal occurrence and younger students should refrain from voicing such comments. Younger students should also remind themselves of some of the positive aspects their countries can give them. Gender. Female returnees may experience more difficulty and conflict upon returning if their home society has a strong patriarchal tradition in the family and work place. This does not necessarily mean that women prefer the overseas environment, rather that they often have to cope with more fitting in difficulties upon return. In general, the greater the extent of patriarchal values in the home country, the greater potential for conflict for women returnees who have strengthened their independence of thought and action during overseas study. Previous cross-cultural experience. Often students who have previously been away from and returned home encounter a less difficult re-entry after overseas study. Return usually is easier the second time around. A student who expects to encounter some difficulties on return is generally better able to manage reintegration problems than students who assume that there will be no problem. However, there is a difference between returning home for a vacation and returning home after the end of the sojourn. Usually, the vacation period is characterized by a tourist feeling and euphoria where the student visits friends, favorite places and restaurants with the knowledge that they will be returning overseas soon. Length of stay and degree of interaction with the host culture. The longer a student stays abroad and the greater the interaction and empathy with the host culture, the more difficult reentry to the home culture may be. Sometimes the students who have been most adaptive to the host culture have the most difficulty readapting to the home culture. Remember, although crosscultural experience tends to make people more adaptive overall, a true life skill, the first return home will be a shock. It is an unexpected feeling of strangeness that the student might have difficulty relating to their home. Readiness to return home. Students who strongly desire to return home at the end of their study are likely to return with a high motivation to re-socialize. Those who strongly desire to stay in the host country are more likely to feel alienated upon re-entry. The best re-entry is chosen, not forced. 5

6 Degree of change in home environment. This factor can work in several ways. Returning students may expect everything to be the same at home as it was when they left. However, family relationships, standards of living, or political climate may have changed significantly while you were gone. Encountering such unexpected changes may be stressful. Conversely, you may return home, to find nothing fundamental seems to be changed. The discrepancy between overseas perception and local reality can intensify the returning student s feeling that no one understands what he or she is going through. It takes time for image and reality of home to move closer together. Degree of similarity between the home and the host culture. The greater the difference is, the greater the reintegration difficulty for the student. The larger the culture gap, the greater the stress in moving in either direction. Expectations are the key. Try to set proper expectations of what home will be like for you now that you have been educated abroad. Type of job placement. Graduates who have difficulty finding an appropriate job upon their return can experience more stressful re-entry than those who have returned to a past position, or to a promotion. Students returning to previously held positions sometimes feel they have outgrown them or that their contributions are not appreciated by superiors and colleagues. Length of time unemployed or underemployed. Free time during the job hunt can be used actively to readjust to your home society, or can make the adjustment seem to be more difficult and take longer than expected. It is easy to imagine that college friends in your second country are hopping into the work place without any problems, although, in reality, they may be unemployed too! Being depressed about one thing can make everything else around you look bad and everything far away look good. Expectation of success. Many returnees are anxious to show their families that the investment in foreign study has helped them achieve success in their new professional roles. Some returnees encounter feelings of failure because their expectations or those of their parents are so high. Sometimes parents place unrealistic expectations on children who go abroad to study. Some students postpone return until they can gather another degree or extra money and be assured of returning in triumph in the eyes of family members. Individual awareness. The most aware individual is not immune to reverse culture shock or reintegration pain. The more aware you are of the process of re-entry, the more likely the problems will be manageable and short-lived. Presence or absence of a support-group. Being able to share concerns and coping strategies with other recent returnees can help reduce the alienation that accompanies re-entry. It helps to locate even one person who has shared this experience. Everyone undergoes subtle but important changes during the re-entry process. Being aware of them will help you reintegrate into life in your home country more smoothly. Best wishes! 6

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