I hope this is appropriate but I am asking on behalf of a friend who is an international student here in the United States. He originally comes from a non western background. Currently he is participating in OPT (optional practical training aka internship) and is looking for permanent work in his major, business. Looking through my friend's resume, most of his work experience is in his native country, and very little can be considered formal, with short term internships dominating. He has been in this country for about two years. English fluency is considered acceptable, but by no means optimal for interviewing. References are also mostly international. Academic background is strong, but not practical work experience.

To the two people voting to close, the linked question asks whether one stands a chance of a particular job and how advisable is it to move to a particular location to seek a job in a different industry. This would be off topic as asking what to do. I am asking for suggestions on how a job seeker can present himself in a situation such as this, to prevent getting eliminated from consideration even before interviews of any kind.

To continue working, employer sponsorship will be required.

How can international students overcome the logistical difficulty of acquiring employer work visa sponsorship in the United States, especially with weak work experience?

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    Get some experience? – Ernest Friedman-Hill Jul 10 '15 at 3:12
  • prevent getting eliminated from consideration even before interviews of any kind The right question to ask is : How to make him stand out in the job seekers? My suggestion is to get a technical degree (not business degree, everybody knows how to run business, including grocery store owner) and then seek a technical job. If he has an MBA already, he can try big companies. – scaaahu Jul 10 '15 at 3:50
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    It's almost like asking, how do I get myself into Columbia University with a weak grade point average and without having taken any tough courses? Or how do I join a competitive sports team if I am a poor athlete? Or how do I get hired by an employer if I can't show that I'll be of value to them? Make sure that your requests are realistic before you ask. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jul 10 '15 at 9:20
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    @JoeStrazzere As I undertand it, it's a US visa that you can get as a student that lets you work for a short period of time (1 to 1.5 years) after graduating. Typically, the plan for holders of this visa is to transition from OPT to H1B during this work period. – Eric Jul 10 '15 at 17:01
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    I have to tell you that an MBA and no real world work experience is pretty much a no hire in my book even without it being someone from another country. MBAs are a dime a dozen and the only valueable ones already have work experience. You should never get an MBA straight from your Bachelor's degree with no intervening work expereince. – HLGEM Jul 13 '15 at 19:18

I was in a similar situation a few years back. While I had some previous work experience in software development, my graduate degree was in the field of User Experience and I just had a few short internships in them making it very hard to make a compelling case. Based upon my experience, here is what I would suggest

  1. Contract roles : As Joe pointed out, ask him to be open to working for contracting agencies. You did not mention what his degree was in but if it was something that enables him to work as a software developer or designer, there are several contracting agencies who can depute him on short term projects with clients giving him valuable experience. That said, ask him to research each agency that contacts him very carefully as there many unscrupulous ones out there who will attract you will assurances of H1b's but make your life a living hell later. Also there are agencies who would pad his resume with multiple years of experience to enable him to be hired but potentially ruin his future career. Hence this is a route which can be taken but with caution.

  2. Ask him to look around at smaller firms which do hire international students : While its the desire of most students to get into the big companies namely Microsoft, Amazon, PWC, Deloitte ( I am just throwing out names here of companies people from my batch went to),but there are a number of smaller companies who do sponsor visa's. That said, your friend should be wiling to move to a new city where the opportunity instead of being stubborn about being in the city he studied in.

  3. Moving back to his home country : I know this is not going to be popular advice but if he hails from a country which has a good economy or strong industry, his US education can help propel him up the ranks fairly fast. I myself moved back to my home country post my OPT (though the move was due to family reasons), I grew up three levels in a span of two years really fast.

coming to how he can best portray himself to employers, here would be my suggestions

  1. Ask him to write an effective concise resume : I am not sure where your friend hails from, but in India, the length of your resume is a indicator of how experienced you are and as your experience grows, the length grows too. Hence there is a tendency to be too verbose. Hence I would recommend he gets help in writing an effective resume (University placement offices often help out with that).

  2. Network : Encourage him to network not from the perspective of only getting a job but also building a connection so that he gets exposure to more people and can potentially use those connections later to build out his careers

  3. Writing an effective cover letter and communication skills : While you did say that his communication skills were passable, It would be good for him to practice how to write effective cover letters to best describe his suitability for a role and also practice how to reach out to employers in career fairs to best pitch himself as a potential employee ( I sadly see too many students who have no idea how to interact in a career fair and hence their first impression is often a poor one).

I am sorry for the rather vague suggestions but since I have no context on what degree your friend is graduating with or what he has focussed on,its hard to give a more precise answer to this.

  • He completed his Masters in Business Management – Anthony Jul 12 '15 at 15:49

How can international students overcome the logistical difficulty of acquiring employer work visa sponsorship in the United States, especially with weak work experience?

I'll assume we are talking about folks who have graduated. If that's not the case, the student should just continue studying.

Newly-graduated International folks often choose to go the contracting route. Many I have known work for agencies who will sponsor them, and in turn take contract positions - often moving to different parts of the country in order to stay employed.

Eventually, they gain enough experience and find a company willing to sponsor them.

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