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Top job seeking tips for international students

During and after your studies

If you are a student looking for part-time work opportunities, are close to graduating, or have just graduated, you may be wondering what the best approach is to launch your career in a competitive job market.


Working as a student:

Being an international student comes with a heavy price tag, which is why most students balance work alongside their studies. Here are some tips for finding part-time or casual work:

Restrictions on work hours

Make sure you check your visa conditions and be clear on the number of hours you can work during semester and semester breaks. You can work as a resource on your campus or outside. Also, think about how will you  balance work and sturdy so it doesn’t impact your grades!

Know your rights

Research about minimum wages in your area and ensure you are clear on employee entitlements. This might include things such as leaves, breaks, rest periods, health and safety.

Getting involved

Besides good grades, many employers value students who are involved in various extra-curricular activities, possess related hands-on experiences, and exhibit leadership experience.

Be on the lookout

Ask around and keep your eyes open for local companies that hire casuals. This might include fast food restaurants, department stores, clothing stores and cafes.

Refine your interpersonal skills

Strong verbal and non-verbal skills are some significant factors considered during interviews. Start working on your soft skills by volunteering, joining university clubs, participating in workshops, and attending seminars. Traits like leadership, problem-solving, and effective communication will eventually reflect in your responses during any interview.

Stop setting unrealistic expectations

Try to keep your expectations realistic. Don’t be discouraged with a few initial setbacks. Believe in yourself, and be persistent. Many career development experts believe that students or new graduates focus on looking for their “perfect” job, instead of a job that will give them a start in a new field. Be practical, understand that even if it’s not the perfect job for you, your first position can be a huge opportunity to learn and develop new skills.


Take job interviews seriously

Attempt to be as professional as possible during job interviews, even when you are applying for unpaid work experience. Research the company you are applying to and dress accordingly for the interviews. Try to arrive early and prepare simple, but concise answers to possible common questions. For instance, “Why do you want to join this company,” “Where do you see yourself five years from now?”

Approach employers in person with your resume

Small businesses generally expect people to approach them directly in person, via phone or through email. If you’re looking for a job in hospitality or retail, it’s best to directly approach employers in your local area. Take along your resume and be prepared to talk about your skills, experience and availability. Keep an eye out for cafes and shops that have signed on their windows advertising for staff.

Tip: Think carefully about the best time to take your resume to hospitality and retail stores. You want the manager to have time for a chat with you. Don’t go during the lunchtime rush!

Working as a graduate:

A bit of planning ahead of time and reaching out to prospective employers in a smart and professional manner can open many doors of opportunities for you. Here’s a head start:

Be productive

Try and avoid sitting back, and instead create a plan for your application efforts. Make a list of at least five to ten target companies and take a look at their websites for any advertised positions.

Create social networks

It is important to get to know more people throughout your studies to build a wider network of contacts. It comes in very handy when you go out on your job search. You could start with joining communities, being a part of meetups and workshops in order to reach out to the maximum number of people, inside or outside your campus.


Stop using generic resume formats

Try to make as strong of a statement as possible by using a unique or personalised resume format. This way, employers will not be bored when considering your application and it will stand out from the other applicants. Try to show your true personality and passion for your work, while still remaining professional. Rather than creating boring biographies, try writing a resume directed at your possible employer, and one they will enjoy reading.


Build your brand online

It is a good idea to create an online presence before you reach out to potential employers. Professionalise your profiles throughout all your social media handles. If possible, post articles or mini-blogs (if you aren’t too much of writer) related to your field that can impress your future employers.

Learn how to optimise your search online

Many new graduates do not search online in the most effective way. There are numerous job search portals and professional networking tools such as LinkedIn, AngelList, Indeed, Seek, etc., which you can access online for free to find that first job.

Apply directly to large companies via their websites

Larger organisations that employ part-time and casual staff in a range of roles tend to use online application systems. Recruitment information can be tricky to find – if there’s no tab on the website for ‘careers’ ‘jobs’ or ‘employment’, look for an ‘about us’ tab on the site map. Sometimes opportunities even sit under a ‘news’ tab.


Follow up your application

Remember, it is not enough to send out your resumes and keep waiting for a response from the employers. Try and follow up every application with an email or a call to ensure that they know how interested you really are. Make sure, however, that you don’t follow up to the point where you bother a potential employer.


Use your university’s career centre

Get in touch with the career support centre of your university to seek access to vacancies, job fairs, resume assistance, and workshops related to job search and employability. Some schools also conduct lectures by industry experts who can offer you guidance on the scope of your field and how you can find a place for yourself in reputed firms and organisations.

Start early, secure a job before your semester ends

Start looking for jobs early as it can take more time than you estimate. So, while you are still in the last semester, start looking out and secure one before it ends. This way you will have a job by the time you complete your education. While you are at it, don’t forget to look up for your visa status and work visa process.


Broaden your horizon

Do not let your location or degree restrict your work opportunity. Stay open to other cities in your current country, home country or even places that are open to recruiting international employees. Do not hesitate to apply for jobs that might not exactly be related to your field of study, but are interesting and you feel extremely passionate about.

With all these tips aside, many career development experts believe that the right general attitude will help you land a good job. While technical skills can be taught at university, many companies look to hire new graduates with energy and passion – qualities you can’t learn from a textbook!

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