Thursday, July 21, 2011

INTERNATIONAL STUDENT U.S. JOB SEARCH #2 – Two Items Successful Students Exploit

This is the second of four blog compendiums covering international student U.S. job searches. It covers two key activities that you can exploit to better position you – networking and differentiating.

Networking for Effective Connections

  • Build and use a strong group of mutually beneficial professional and personal allies. It is the engine that an estimated 75% of American job seekers use. Networking is not necessarily done to find a job, but represents people you can approach about questions, ideas, and introductions. Think of it as “making friends” and establishing long-term business connections. An association with someone by telephone or in person fosters being remembered, versus being just a faceless piece of paper in a stack. You are in a business school, and networking represents a fundamental business skill.
  • Embrace American-style networking, even though it is awkward to many foreign cultures. If you want a job in the U.S., you don’t have to like networking, but must be willing to endure it. Jobs can come from most unlikely sources.
  • Focus more of your time on the higher percentage return, non-published job search arena by expanding contacts with people thinking enough about you to bring those to your attention. An estimated 80% of open positions are never published; the 20% published are visible to everyone and represent a “leftover” job market.
  • Ask for assistance from good network contacts regarding specific opportunities to increase your leverage in securing a job and negotiating. People want to help. If your contacts do not know your situation, they can’t help you. Referrals based on good information from trusted opinions of others are considered a best recruiter hiring solution
  • Seek out people with backgrounds similar to yours for a higher percentage return on time
  • Include those who are from other countries, speak other languages, married to those from other countries, went to school outside of their native country, have international business responsibilities, traveled frequently around the world, etc.
  • Identify these people by asking better questions of those you already know. Examples include: “Do you know of people at your company who are from my country? Speak my language? Attended my school? Conduct international business transactions? etc.? Then just express interest in saying hello or meeting them.
  • Research personnel at target companies to identify unique items which,when pursued,may offer higher percentage returns.
  • Take advantage of being a student.
  • Among possible Kelley networking opportunities: scheduled events, professors(regardless of whether you have them for class), guest speakers, campus recruiters, recent graduates and current students. Particularly, solicit advice from other international students (not just those from your home country!) who were successful in their job searches. First year students could have an objective to have a quality meeting with every second year in their academy – then when you become a second year, you have ready,successful resources.
  • Even if people are not linked to Kelley, when approached in the right way, many feel more comfortable interacting with students versus the general population.
  • Cultivate people who are not in hiring position, particularly those employed by companies with referral programs offering monetary awards to existing employees to recommend candidates who are hired. Effective networking and informational interviews might get people at these companies thinking enough about you to recommend you.
  • Dormant ties are as valuable, and often more valuable, than current ties
  • Insights from dormant ties tend to be more novel, and more efficient to get, than those from current ties
  • The pool of helpful dormant ties is surprisingly deep
  • Discipline yourself to systematically attend functions (social, club, and otherwise) outside your normal sphere of friends. “The more I practice, the luckier I get” -- Lee Trevino
  • Consider medium-sized, smaller companies
  • Build credibility by being yourself. Display positive energy.
A Differentiated Value Proposition
  • Remember: “It’s all about them.” Think like the employer! Position your unique business advantages to what the company needs and for the right decision maker before any visa sponsorship considerations surface. You are selling yourself. “Lead with need” is the traditional sales adage. “Features, Functions, and Benefits” are integral to any sales pitch, but the most effective focus on benefits.
  • Articulate your soft skill advantages by consulting your Keirsey Temperament Sorter® II Temperament Report for reality-based narratives on traits, motivations, and styles, without feeling culturally uncomfortable about being a braggart.
  • Capitalize on your unique hard skill advantages, including your international background.

  • Analyze position descriptions for required and preferred qualification keywords to include in your resume, cover letters and discussions. With these, you should be viewed favorably.

  • Identify keywords to supplement position descriptions, or if none exits, through connections and informational interviews. Use these to shape the position in your likeness.

  • Mirror company values, goals, and mission when articulating your motivations.

  • Research the decision maker(s) to foster points of congruity and authentic mutual interests

  • Practice an elevator pitch about your interests, experience (features), skills (functions), and value proposition (benefits), should a conversation go in that direction. Make it easy for any person to help you. Nothing looks worse than a student who appears not to know what they represent and/or want to do.

Please add any other Networking and Differentiating tips to the comments section for potential discussion in subsequent blogs. Next week, Article #3 in this series will cover: Two Items Successful Students Control. See you then.


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