Studying abroad brings great potential for future careers. However, coming out of college and jumping head-on into a competitive job market feels a bit intimidating. Now is the time to create your job search strategy and think about how to best take advantage of your experiences through studying abroad.
Whether you wish to work in an overseas location, or return to your home country after completing your studies, an international degree can definitely serve as a ticket to a promising career.
As the number of students studying abroad increases, the more employers are taking note of their international exposure and the benefits that come with such experience. Alumni of international study programs often exhibit global awareness, cultural sensitivity, independence, self-confidence, and the ability to acquire of new skills—all great points of leverage during your job search. By promoting your global educational program experience, you can put your best foot forward during a job interview.
That being said, if you have invested in a study abroad program, use it to your advantage during a job hunt and best pitch your skills and knowledge to potential employers.
Analyze your career goals
Successful job hunts should never start by simply endlessly applying for any job opening without having first analyzed your career goals. For example, a study abroad program may have opened several less known or thought of career options for you. By considering all of your skills and experiences, you can hone in on what career paths will best suit your achievements, as well as fulfill any future goals you have. Furthermore, to do well in a job interview and hiring process, it behooves you not only know about the field you are applying for, but also feel passionate about it.
Choose a job location
You may have graduated from any top university in the US, Europe, Asia, etc. but have plans to work in any other location. Your international degree can serve as a gateway to various overseas companies. The first important step is to pick your ideal job location. This decision can also be made easier by choosing locations in accordance with the area’s demand for your specialization. For instance, while some fields might be in fairly high demand worldwide (such as a medical field), others might not have gained as much momentum depending on the local economy, environment, culture, etc. That being said, do not sell yourself to an undesirable location simply to be hired—yes, you have to work in life, but is working not a means to live? Don’t move somewhere knowing you’ll only end up being miserable and looking for ways to move again.
Research about top recruiters
The next logical step comes as researching about the specific job market and specialization demand in your chosen location. Suppose you hold an engineering degree and want to work in Singapore, researching the top companies in Singapore who have current job openings will help you know exactly where you should put your energy.
Furthermore, do a proper analysis of the selected companies before applying for them, such as fine-tune reading the job advertisement, checking out the company website, mission/vision, etc. This will not only give you insight as to how your study overseas experience might be if you end up working for the particular organization, but also allow you to reflect upon your own skills and ambitions and see how they might fit with the company culture. Finding a hiring company that offers job openings in your preferred location is a great means to move there.
Attention on resume building
It is pretty widely known by now that a degree earned abroad, or study abroad experience, can add some serious brownie points to your resume. Top companies across the globe often seek people who have graduated from foreign universities, or at least hold excellent knowledge of other languages, cultural nuances, and geopolitical occurrences to help boost their business across geographic boundaries. In order to better sell these aspects of yourself, it is imperative that you include them on your resume and not simply assume you will have time to discuss them during an interview. Allow your resume to introduce these achievements, and open the door for employers to ask further questions during your interview.
Regardless of how long you spent abroad, mention some of the key achievements during your experience, such as events that you organized, global projects you participated in, scholarships you received, etc. Citing examples of such achievements will not only give a clear idea to the employer about your skills, global knowledge, and potential as a future employee, but present them with further discussion points to during an interview. Mention further international skills acquired during the duration, such as cross-cultural communication, analytical abilities, and flexibility. Such skills can boost your employability.
Strengthen your network
While studying at a foreign university, you will often times have opportunities to meet students and faculty of different nationalities. One of the best ways to job search in a new location is to use your social network. You never know when someone you have kept in contact with after meeting on the college campus can refer you to a job opening! Hence, keep your social network strong by staying connected with friends, classmates, faculty, and family members. Designing a network strategy can help you stay with the people who can potentially provide valuable insight or an entryway into the field you are interested in finding a job. A faculty member or an experienced friend can often give you a great deal in understanding the career prospects of a particular field of work.
With the popularity of social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter, networking with people has become an easier task. Be active on networking sites by frequently updating your profile, joining alumni group, and connecting with career interest groups. Networking is all about identifying people (sources), forming strategic connections, and following up.
You can always boast your international study program degree to your employer in order to gain an advantage. However, the best asset that you have to impress an employer is your originality! Be genuine in whatever information you give at the time of any job application. While highlighting your skills is important, equally important is presenting yourself the way you are. Most of the employers give importance to not only your degree from overseas, but also the way you show your competencies and make connections and reflect upon your global exposure. Remember, your greatest strength is your confidence, so be you!
A job search can definitely be a time-consuming process, however, with the right strategy, you can get the most of your graduation from a foreign school or abroad program. Don’t wait until you have already completed the final year of your studies—start early by building your network, preparing a solid resume, and researching about the top companies and career opportunities in your preferred locations.
Follow these job search strategies and put your acquired knowledge to use! Good luck in the hunt!