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International Student Employability: Top Tips to Expand Your Prospects
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=42839"><span class="small">rickriddle</span></a>   
Monday, 28 November 2016 00:53

Going the international student route is a heavy investment towards your future career. But thanks to us living in a dynamic, ever-changing world, there’s very little certainty as to what types of jobs will exist 20 years, 10 years or even a few years from now. Career paths are seldom linear these days so it’s critical to possess a skill set that allows to you adapt and except in a constantly evolving global marketplace.

So with this in mind, here some tips for international students on how to expand your job prospects.

Identify Career Goals

The sooner you start to develop the base of skills needed to reach your goals, the better the chance you’ll have to land the job you want right out of school.

So as a student now is the time to plan out where you want to go and how you can get there; attend career planning sessions, meet with your school’s career counselor, and take part in industry specific workshops.

By getting an early jump on your planning (ideally in your first year in school), you’ll be able to take full advantage of the opportunities and services your institution offers.

Here are some career planning questions to ask yourself:

  • What are my interests? What do I care most about?
  • What are my strengths? What types of works/tasks do I dislike?
  • What is my dream job? Is there a certain location where I want to work, if so why?

Don’t be frustrated if you’re a bit stumped at first by these questions; if you need some help clarifying your thoughts, you can take a self-evaluation test to get more in touch with your likes and dislikes.

Understanding What Employers Want

Hard Skills vs Soft Skills

In the working world, skills are broken down into 2 distinct groups: hard skills (technical skills) and soft (personal skills).

A candidate’s hard skills are relatively easy to gauge since they can be observed and quantified based on raw technical knowledge and the abilities possessed to successfully carry out a specific job.

Some examples of hard skills include:

  • Mathematics
  • Knowledge of a specific policy or law
  • Proficiency in a certain language
  • Technical proficiency (ex. the ability to use a certain software package)

By contrast, soft skills are less concrete. They consist of more abstract qualities such as being a good communicator, a team player, empathy, drive, social intelligence, organizational skills, an active listener and being good with time management.

So which type of skills are more important when trying to get hired?

Well, while hard skills are more heavily weighed when identifying and selecting potential candidates during the recruitment stage, it’s a candidate’s soft skills that are usually more focused on during the interview stage in order to determine which candidate is better suited to be part of the company.

Communication is Essential

The ability to communicate is vital. Such a skill set involves:

  • An ability to communicate through letters, emails and reports in a manner that’s clear, concise and professional. It’s not simply being able to write in proper English. Successful written correspondence needs to be worded appropriately and easy-to-read (tone, grammar, and proper context are all very important).
  • Another major form of communication involves the ability to actively and sincerely listen while being able to confidentially and effectively verbalize your thoughts during workplace conversations that are not just work related, but social as well.

Social Conversations vs Work Related Ones

Work related conversations include customer service skills, interacting with team members and superiors, and communicating during office activities and in meetings.

Social conversations, on the other hand, involve informal conversations about stuff like sports, weather, fashion, movies, music and the unavoidable office gossip. And while these types of conversations might seem unimportant, the ability to communicate on this level with your fellow workers is an essential part of integrating into a team atmosphere that will help you progress through your career.

Remember, communication isn’t just verbal. Body language (non-verbal communication) is highly important; good posture, solid eye contact, understanding the personal space of others, and even the ability to confidently shake hands are all vital part of being a good communicator.

Two other important parts of the application process:

  • The ability to communicate at a high level through your resumes, applications and cover letters – and even if writing isn’t your strong suit, you can still create great documents with professional paper help.
  • Being able to speak well and articulate your thoughts during interviews – in particular, you want to be prepared for behavioral based questions and ‘tell me about yourself’ questions.

Develop Your Problem Solving and Critical Thinking Skills

As important as the above skills I’ve mentioned are, you can bet that employers will be expecting candidates to also possess strong problem solving and analytical skills.

Problem-solving skills involve the integration of imagination and logic in order to find solutions.

Analytical (critical thinking) skills consist of a candidate’s ability to take available information, analyze it, effectively articulate any issues or findings and then decide on or recommend a solution to a given issue or problem.

Here are some ways (the IDEAL model) to demonstrate your problem solving and analytical critical thinking skills to an interviewer:

  • Identify an issue
  • Define any obstacles to solving the issue
  • Examine options
  • Act of the decided solution
  • Look at the results and then determine what, if any, adjustments should be made.

Show Passion

On top of everything else, employers are looking for candidates with drive, passion and enthusiasm. These qualities can be demonstrated by:

  • Taking part in extra-curricular activities such as clubs, charities, professional organizations and societies.
  • Showing you have the mental strength and optimism to accomplish goals even when the path gets rocky.
  • Demonstrating your ability not to get down when you make a mistake, and instead learn from it.
  • Showing your self-awareness, a crucial aspect of emotional intelligence.

Conclusion

As mentioned above, going the international student route is a very serious investment. And while your time in school is extremely important, the ultimate point of international studies is to use what you’ve learned to succeed in the career of your choice. By following and applying the tips laid out above, you’ll not only give yourself a great chance to land the job you want right out of college, but you’ll also be better equipped to succeed once you are hired and to advance from there.

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Last Updated on Monday, 28 November 2016 06:53