Listing citizenship on your resume is completely optional. You do not have to share with employers where you hold citizenship. You only need to answer truthfully when asked if you meet the company’s requirements for work authorization.
Employers are not allowed to ask questions about a person’s citizenship or national origin. However, questions regarding your work authorization are appropriate and legal.
Examples of appropriate questions
- Are you currently authorized to work in the US on a full-time basis for any employer without restriction?
- Will you now or in the near future require employment visa sponsorship (i.e. H-1B visa)?
Answer questions regarding your work status in a clear and confident manner
Employers will focus more on the uncertainty of your work authorization and less on your qualifications if you are unclear. Avoid excessive detail. Your work status should not be the focus of the interview. The purpose of a job interview is to demonstrate how your knowledge and skills are a great match for the available position. Meet with an advisor from the Office of International Affairs (OIA) if you have questions about your eligibility and conditions under which you are permitted to work in the US.
Disclose sooner rather than later
If the employer has not brought up the work authorization topic, address the issue in the first or second interview. Showcase your skills first BEFORE you discuss work authorization. At this phase of the job search, you have caught the employer’s interest and are likely a more serious contender than you were early on.
Finding and securing a position can be stressful for any individual. For international students, there can be added barriers in the process. Avoid applying to companies unwilling to hire students requiring US work authorization. Before you begin your job search, understand that companies have varying levels of knowledge and experience in hiring international students whether on Optional Practical Training (OPT), Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or H-1B. Therefore, know that you could face these three scenarios when talking with an employer:
- May hire if skills are in high demand
- Has hired international students in the past, may hire again
- Not familiar with the hiring process or has never hired an international student
Confidence is Key
As an international student, you can be an asset to an employer! For bilingual international students, your language and cross-cultural communication skills will be valued as more companies are increasing their global presence.
Making your “case” to an employer
One big selling point to make clear to employers is that they have very little work to do in terms of hiring you while on OPT or CPT because all required paperwork for CPT and OPT is handled by OIA and the candidate. Employers often assume that there’s a lot of time/money involved in hiring an international student, so be prepared to inform them about the process.
Register with ECS and set up an appointment with an ECS career advisor to discuss your individual situation. Attend ECS panels and workshops specifically for international students, and keep up-to-date with the ECS Job Blog to read about success stories from other Ohio State international engineering students.
There is a growing community of Ohio State international alumni who have walked in your shoes. Find these individuals through professors, student organizations, LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Contact others who have come from your home country and successfully found jobs in the US. These individuals may provide useful tips and/or introductions to hiring managers at the companies where they work.
Conduct a Two Country Job Search
Apply for positions in both the US and your home country. It’s essential to create a Plan B upon graduation – a second option that includes pursuing a different position/company/location if your Plan A does not work out. Identify opportunities by visiting employer’s websites and using Going Global (a resource that lists international opportunities in addition to US positions). Consider contacting your country’s consulate to request a list of the American employers that do business in your home country and a list of your home country employers who do business in the US.
Studying in the US takes initiative, perseverance, the ability to interact with diverse individuals and the ability to adapt to new environments – all skills employers value in candidates.
Some international students are concerned that language and cultural barriers may affect their ability to do well in interviews. Take advantage of any resource that can improve your language, and understand that your main goal or objective is to highlight your strengths and how they complement the position at hand. Here are some methods to prepare you for interviews in the US:
- Practice! Study common interview questions; rehearse answers with friends (Handshake's "Resource Library”)
- Schedule a mock interview with ECS
- Sign up for the English Conversation Program
- Participate in Global Engagement Nights
Whether you have been in the US for one year or many, life as a student is different from that of a full-time employee. Observe the workplace culture during the first few months on the job. Consider these:
- Take part in organizing activities such as diversity potlucks and lunch-and-learns to honor heritage and share and learn with one another
- Understand the various working and communication styles of your colleagues
- Participate in diversity training to develop awareness and to increase knowledge and sensitivity to diversity issues
- Find a mentor to help you acclimate to US culture – understanding workplace norms, expectations and values