Monthly Archives

April 2012

Career Tools

Broaching International Status with Employers

Spring has sprung and student job search fever is in the air.  Our office is buzzing with students coming and going with updates on the status of their job and internship search.  I often hear many of the same questions ranging from “how do I negotiate salary?” to “what questions should I be prepared to ask in the interview?”   I can rattle off answers to most inquiries and give sample rehearsed scenarios and best practices.  There is, however, one question I have received several times this month that isn’t quite as easy to explain.  

Almost every international student I work with wants to know “When do I bring up my international status to employers”.  With the Career Fair coming up this Friday, April 13th, this is a completely relevant and savvy question to be asking yourself if you are not a permanent US resident.  Career coaches give varying advice on this topic ranging from “wait until you are asked” to “list it on the summary section of your resume.”   

 My theory is somewhere in the middle.  If you state your international status up front, you risk losing the chance to dazzle the recruiter or hiring manager with your unique skill set, passion for the industry, and overall charisma.  However, if you wait until the 4th interview, you will frustrate a potential boss by your lack of honesty.  I typically advise students to wait until the end of the 1st interview (when you are given the floor to ask questions or give your final pitch) to reveal your status.    

Be mindful of how you relay this information.  Many employers are still in the dark about the necessary steps, costs, and paperwork involved in hiring an international employee.  Below are a couple of pointers when this conversation comes up:

  • Do state that you have 1 year of employment authorization
  • Forego the word “sponsor” and replace it with “petition” when asked about the hiring company’s responsibility to keep you on board after that first year.
  • Research and understand the nuances of this process.  You must be the expert because I can guarantee that every recruiter will not be.  For example,  a common misconception is that the employer must prove that there are no other US citizens available or qualified to fill the position.  This is not the case.  They simply have to prove that the non-permanent US resident they want to hire does meet the minimum qualifications. 

 Remember, remain proud of your heritage and use it as an asset to highlight the skills you have gained, the additional languages you have mastered, and the unique global perspective you will bring to the role. 

 For more information visit the University of St. Thomas International Student Services website http://www.stthomas.edu/oiss/

Career Tools

Life Beyond the Midwest

As a non-native Minnesotan one thing that strikes me is how loyal Minnesotans are to this land of 10,000+ lakes.   Don’t get me wrong, this state, specifically the Twin Cities, has much to offer from boasting home to 20  Fortune 500 companies (3rd largest of any US metro) to an array of outdoor adventures appeasing any REI enthusiast.  However, having grown up and spent most of my adult life on the west coast, I find this geographic devotion unusual.  Many of the friends I grew up with have traveled outside of CA for work and accepted job transfers to other regions in the US.  This readiness to relocate is not typical of Minnesotans and according to a recent Harvard Business Review article, this unwillingness to take your job search national might not be the wisest decision, particularly if you are a recent graduate.   

With an unemployment rate that is improving but still hovering around 9%, being open minded about location is wise for a job seeker.  The number of workers who relocated for work was at a record low in 2011 (11.2%), down from 20% in 1985. Yet 32% of companies say they would be willing to pay for relocation expenses for the right hire.  So why the disconnect?  There are several reasons why many Americans stay rooted ranging from fear of the unknown to family obligations. 

 As a job seeker, however, it’s smart to evaluate your priorities and consider whether relocation will help you achieve your ultimate career goals.  Rather than limiting yourself to a specific region take a look at what skills and opportunities you are looking to gain from a position.  Then take your search national.  There are many positions out there that offer the opportunity to gain the skills you need to get your to your 5, 10, and 20 year goals.  Those positions may or may not be in the Twin Cities.    

 So branch out, explore all opportunities, and really evaluate what is most important to you career wise.  Remember Minnesota will always be here and who knows you might end up finding another state feels like home just as much as our North Star State.