Job Search Strategies For International Students

The following is posted with permission.

Getting a job in the United States can be challenging, even for domestic students. As an international student, you will encounter obstacles during the job search process. The following advice is intended to assist you in overcoming these obstacles and find a better job opportunity.

1. Begin your search early According to the U.S. Department of Labor, it takes an average of five months to find a good paying job so please don’t wait until you graduate to start looking for a position. As an international student you should also be aware that it takes about 90 days for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process and approve your OPT application.

2. Network – Approximately 30% of jobs in the United States are advertised in newspapers, magazines, or on the internet. The other 70% are not advertised. These non-advertised jobs or “hidden jobs” are usually filled by word of mouth. To find out about these jobs you will need to network with friends, family, acquaintances, teachers, counselors, school alumni, and other sources.

3. Consider applying to companies that sponsor international student graduates if you wish to ultimately pursue an H visa. The internet has many resources where you can find lists of companies that have sponsored international student workers in the past.

4. Seek U.S. companies with offices in your home country – Multinational companies will have an interest in your cultural background and language skills because of the ties they have in your home country. Some of these companies prefer to place international student graduates in offices in their home countries for a few years prior to transferring to an office in the U.S.A.

5. Become an expert on visas and optional practical training (OPT) – Many companies are hesitant about hiring international student graduates because they don’t understand the process. It is your responsibility to educate the employer on how easy it is to hire an OPT student. If you want to stay in the U.S. longer than the amount of time OPT allows, learn about the H1-B Visa so you can explain the process of hiring on this program to your employer in case they are not familiar with all of the procedures.

6. Choose a major/specialization in demand – If you want to work in the United States after graduation, choosing a major/profession in high demand is in your best interest. The top 5 occupations approved for H1-B Visa status were in the following areas: • Systems Analysis and Programming • College and University Education • Accountants, Auditors and Related Occupations • Electrical/Electronics Engineering Occupations • Computer Related Occupations – Even if your major doesn’t fall under any of these categories, you can strengthen your candidacy by adding a minor to your academic program in one of these areas.

7. Focus on your attributes – International students bring with them many skills that Americans may not possess. You need to show the employer that your qualifications are unique and go beyond what the other candidates can offer. Many international students know more than one language, have been exposed to different cultures and systems, are mature, adaptable, and deal well with change. These are all qualities that employers value highly.

8. Strengthen communication skills – Communication skills (verbal and written) are an important quality desired by employers in job candidates. If your English needs improvement, take ESL, English Composition, or Public Speaking classes, or contact your campus Tutoring Department for assistance.

9. Complete an internship – Employers want to hire people who have experience and can perform the essential job duties. The more practical experience you have, the better your chances are of getting a job. If possible, consider securing and serving an internship with a company or organization. Also, check with your international office on campus to see if Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is offered at your school, college, or university.  CPT could be another opportunity for you to obtain additional work related experience prior to graduation.

10. Perfect your resume and cover letter – A well-prepared resume and cover letter is essential to getting a job interview in the United States. The U.S. resume is different from resumes from other countries. If you are not familiar with the standard U.S. resume, visit your Career Services Office to see a counselor or attend a workshop.

11. Practice interviewing – If you are interviewing with a U.S. company, you will be expected to conform to certain cultural norms. Your dress, manner of speaking, and the answers to questions will be expected to match certain norms. Because interviews are different in the U.S., it is important for you to enhance your interviewing skills.

12. Don’t Give Up! – Our last piece of advice is to not give up! Finding a job in the United States, while difficult, is not impossible. In fact, more and more employers are seeing the benefits of hiring international student graduates. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers 2007 Job Outlook Survey, 31% of employers responding to their survey anticipated hiring international students for full-time permanent positions during 2006-07. This is up from 24% the previous year. Even with the current job marketplace, employers are seeing the advantage and value of hiring international student applicants.

— Dr. Brian Delon
Global Education Programs and Services

Dr. Brian Delon, the company founder and executive director, guided students for more than 30 years. In addition to holding a doctorate in education, he has served the higher education community as an instructor, counselor, advisor and administrator at colleges and universities. He has worked  with agencies in  Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, and other countries in developing placement programs into United States and Canada colleges and universities . 

Brian is a member of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the leading professional association dedicated to international education.




  1. Hi Patricia,

    What a nice resource for students looking for jobs. I am currently taking the Electronic Portfolio class with Dr Rosen and it is soooooooooo much work! Getting a job is a really big job in itself. I worked non-stop on gathering my past work together to put into a portfolio format. It took the whole last week working more than 8 hours a day on it. If you’d like to see an example of an online portfolio per Dr. Rosen’s criteria, here is a link to mine (just completed today!!!!!!)

    Keep up the good work on your blog!

    Jeanene cs5711

    • Hi Jenene,
      Online portfolios gives potential clients and employers exposure to your style. Your work looks like something we would see in a professional publication. You never know where a referral will come from. Good luck to you!

  2. Patty,

    I just LOVE the form this blog has taken. You’re doing something I’ve wanted to do for a long time…sharing with students how to be great students. And not just by grading standards, but by life standards. Looks like you’re sourcing some great information that will help anyone who views your content. Now, we need even more people to visit your page 😉

    • It would be great to have students tell their story on the blog. There are so many inspiring stories when students share what keeps them in school and obstacles they overcome to be in school.

      • A strong success indicator is persistence…coming back again and again until the goal is achieved. It helps to enjoy the ride along the way.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: