Nov 11, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

So you’re an international student who wants to stay and work in the US after completing a degree from an American university?  While the reality is that you may face some extra obstacles along the way, your foreignness may also present unique advantages. Read on to learn more about how your international status can help you land a dream job in the US, along with one particularly important tip for positioning yourself for success. 

The Benefit of Bilingualism

As the business landscape grows increasingly global, so grow opportunities for workers fluent in two or more languages. Asserts The Matching Group CEO and Founder Nathalie Jansen in a LinkedIn piece, “Bilingual employees offer innumerable benefits to your business. Many scientific studies have found that people who can speak more than one language enhance the workplace for others, as these individuals are often skilled multitaskers with impressive communication skills.”

Specifically, Jansen cites five benefits bilingual candidates bring to the table, including the ability to reach international consumers, improved localization services, enhanced multilingual proofreading capabilities, better multitasking and productivity, and stronger communication and listening skills.

And the benefits of bilingualism aren’t limited to the business world. Patricio Grané Labat, partner of public international law firm Volterra Fietta, told The Guardian, “In our profession, language skills are critical because, as international lawyers, we apply our trade with words. It is certainly something I look for when I recruit, if a candidate is not fluent in other languages I generally would not consider them – if I do it’s usually for a discrete assignment.”

As a foreign candidate, the choice is yours: You can choose to play up or downplay your international status. But the sooner you start embracing your internationalism for all of its advantages, the better you can sell these advantages to potential employers.

A Key Differentiator

Your language skills can also be a key differentiator in gaining visa sponsorship. Says Hult International School of Business, “Students who land a foreign job and sponsorship tend to present unique skills that their future employers couldn’t fulfill….As an example, some of the most in-demand industries in the U.S. are in fields we refer to as “STEM” (Science Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing). Additional examples of in-demand areas are: Android and mobile apps, digital marketing and social media, data analytics, including data visualization, statistics and Google Analytics.”

And while some foreigners are self-conscious about their accents, other insist that foreign accents can also be a positive. In discussing his experiences as a New Zealander on the academic job market in an Inside Higher Ed article, Christopher Garland reveals, “My ‘Kiwi’ accent is more of a point of curiosity than a reason to question my fluency in English...Moreover, I believe it directly aided in the minutiae of the job search. New Zealand is on many travelers' bucket lists, so it provided a conversation piece during those unavoidable, potentially awkward moments on the campus visit: for example, that lengthy drive with a graduate student from the airport to the hotel, or that very long breakfast with a senior professor.”

Garland even goes so far as to conclude that his foreign status played a significant role in landing a job. He says, “One of the reasons I got a job, I believe, is that I took time to think about how ‘being foreign’ shaped my teaching and research in this country.”

The Honesty Imperative

One last thing to keep in mind? Regardless of the challenges associated with conducting a job search as a foreigner, honesty is always the best policy. Attorney and immigration expert Steve Pattison told LinkedIn, “Most U.S. firms are happy to employ qualified non-U.S. citizens or residents to work in their U.S. offices, but can find U.S. immigration requirements and procedures confusing, and no business wants to have penalties imposed on it for employing unauthorized aliens.”

The takeaway? The clearer and more forthcoming you are about your status, the better off you’ll be. Concludes LinkedIn, “If you present an attractive hiring opportunity to a prospective employer rather than a complex set of administrative and legal obstacles, you’ll enhance your credibility as a desirable candidate worth sponsoring for work authorization.”




Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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