Strategies for Searching for Opportunities Outside of the U.S. for International Students

Dreama Johnson

Given the shortage of U.S. work visas and uncertain climate toward immigration in the U.S., it is important that you also look for employment in your home country or another country/region in addition to your search in the U.S. An international job search includes the same elements as the U.S. job search but differs slightly depending on cultural norms and expectations of each individual country.  These are common elements:

· Explore Resources

· Gaining Work Experience

· Networking Your Way to a Job

· Preparing Country-Specific Resumes and Cover Letters


The Career Center library has a large number of print and electronic resources, which relate to finding a job in the global marketplace. Some of the material is designed for American students who are searching for employment abroad; however, much of the information is just as relevant for an international student seeking employment abroad.

The International Studies Office can also provide information and trends on the strategies of graduated international alumni. Visit both the Career Center and International Studies Office as early as possible so you can begin building your Dual Location Career Search Strategy!


The Career Center can help connect you with employers and provide recruitment timelines for multinational companies who come to Grounds or post in Handshake.  Be sure to also search Handshake thoroughly as more multinational employers are including their many global locations in job postings. Additionally, use the numerous international resources and directories available through the UVA Library to identify a company with a subsidiary in your home country. The International Division at a company’s headquarters can identify the Regional Manager of the subsidiary who, in turn, can provide you with information on summer work opportunities or internships.

NOTE: If you are contemplating summer work overseas, meet with an International Student Advisor in ISO regarding your visa status for re-entry into the United States to continue your academic program.


Begin talking with faculty members about your career plans. Many faculty members have worked or studied abroad and maintain professional contacts with colleagues overseas. UVA hosts visiting faculty from abroad who arrive with current information and contacts in their home countries.

UVA alumni living overseas can be valuable resources for information on employment opportunities. Use LinkedIn to contact alumni overseas. Consider joining the following LinkedIn group: University of Virginia Alumni, Students, Faculty and Staff. Also, the UVA Alumni Association has developed 20+ alumni chapters overseas. Visit for a complete list and contact information. While you should not contact alumni to "ask for a job," it is certainly appropriate to ask for information, advice and/or referrals.

Many professional associations have an international membership. Visit the websites of these organizations to request information on their publications, student rates, and overseas chapters. These links may lead you to knowledgeable people and, possibly, job opportunities.

Finally, don't forget to stay connected to family back home. Not only will your family and friends be happy to hear from you, but you can ask them for information about the job market. Family, friends, and former employers can all provide you with job leads while you are busy studying in the United States. In addition, these contacts may also be in a position to serve as references. References from the U.S., unless internationally known in their field, will not lend as much weight to your application as a well-known figure in your home country.


As you now know, a well-written resume and cover letter is critical in any job search. However, when searching for a job in your home country, your resume must conform to the local standards and not reflect U.S. styles and standards in resume writing. Just as U.S. students come to the Career Center for help in writing an appropriate U.S.-style resume, you may need some advice in designing a resume appropriate for use in your home country or another country. Dr. Frank Klein of the University Placement Center at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale offers the following advice:

"For job searches in the U.S., the resume is most often chronological, functional, or a combination of the two. However, with regard to resume format requirements, differences exist from continent to continent, country to country. Working in the European Countries: A Guide to Graduate Recruiters and Job Seekers by A.J. Raban of the University of Cambridge Career Services makes an excellent case for a country-specific resume. In Denmark, according to Raban, extracurricular activities are defined as work experience rather than student activities and, consequently given much attention by the employer. In Germany, where extracurricular activities are defined as student activities, they receive little attention. If a single resume category, extracurricular activities, is important in Denmark, unimportant in Germany, is secondary to academic performance in Italy, and is given special attention by employers in the United Kingdom, enough cannot be said on the importance of country-specific resumes."

Resumes targeted for some countries require more personal data than is appropriate in a U.S.-style resume. Birthdate, birthplace, citizenship, passport number and even a photograph may be appropriate. Often employers from these countries are more interested in the applicant's skillset than in the specific undergraduate or graduate degree. In many countries, transcripts, with an official university stamp or seal, or even actual photocopies of degrees, are required with the resume. Additionally, a photocopy of your degree may be required if you are applying to a university position.

In addition to the resource mentioned above, GoinGobal within Handshake, also provides country-specific sample resumes and cover letters for 40 different countries. Use your faculty contacts (especially visiting faculty) to make sure that you are constructing an appropriate resume. Send a draft of your resume home in correspondence with family and friends. Ask them to critique your resume or find someone in your career field at home who has the knowledge and background to evaluate your resume style and content