The U.S. Job Search for International Students

The Office of Career Advancement was thrilled to host guest speaker, Dan Beaudry, to present on a webinar for international students searching for jobs in the U.S. last Tuesday. Dan published his book “Power Ties: The International Student’s Guide to Finding a Job in the U.S.” in 2009 during another difficult job market for students and his message continues to be relevant and timely. In fact, we had over 100 international students across Harvard attend!

While we do not have a recording of the session available, please visit Dan’s website to access his blog and some free tools he has provided to help with your job search. A brief recap of the session is below:

  • How the Visa Lottery Works – International students are often challenged by the question on job applications that asks, “Will you need work authorization now or any time in the future?” and it’s tricky to know how to answer this question. What also makes this confusing is that some organizations who will officially say they don’t sponsor, may in fact sponsor for the *right* candidate. So, why does the question exist?
  • The Hidden Job Market – It’s estimated that anywhere between 60-90% of jobs are filled before they’re officially posted. What this means is if you’re job search strategy is focused on applying to job postings you see online, you are not tapping into a large percentage of opportunities.
  • Networking and Informational Interviewing – The best way to tap into the hidden job market is through networking, and specifically informational interviewing. Informational interviewing is a more effective way of building your network in that you reach out to individuals directly or ask to be introduced to ask questions about their career path and receive advice that would be most helpful to you. You should begin by accessing the Harvard Alumni Directory and LinkedIn as well as tapping into faculty, peers, and staff at your school to help connect you to individuals and organizations you would like to explore.
  • What Not to Do – Avoid approaching employers and beginning with the questions, “Do you sponsor?” You may think it’s a waste of time to talk to an employer if they don’t sponsor but leading with this question ends the conversation before it even begins. As Dan said, “You are leading with your costs.” Try to use this opportunity to build a connection, learn about the employer, and gather information that will be useful to you in your search.
  • Communicate Your Value – You have to be your very best salesperson in this process. Make sure you learn how to communicate what you bring to an organization, how you can help them move their goals forward, and how your values and interests align with their mission. The best way to improve at this is through practice!

As always, our Career Coaches are here to assist you in this process – whether it’s getting comfortable with networking, how to email and follow-up with a potential contact, or practicing communicating your value. Please make an appointment to meet with a coach via CareerConnect.

Dan Beaudry
Author of Power Ties: The International Student’s Guide to Finding a Job in the U.S.