International students, in the eyes of employers, boast a range of qualities which domestic students can find difficult to demonstrate in an interview process. This is great news if you choose to study abroad!
Successfully applying for a job is all about making an impression quickly and accentuating your positives; as an international student, you can do all of these in a number of ways.
Reasons why employers like international graduates
- You like to challenge yourself
Having packed up and left home to study elsewhere, you have shown a willingness to explore new opportunities. No employer will want to select someone who will do just enough to get by, or be boring. If you’re a representation of where their business can go if they hire you, you want to emphasise everything which shows that you’re enthusiastic and energetic. Taking initiative is another favourable quality which employers look for; by showing ambition and setting goals for yourself, an employer will be eager to take on someone who will go further when possible. If you can do this, it means you can probably learn quickly and work unsupervised, which will make your supervisor’s job a lot easier.
- You can adapt
The best organisations and companies change with the times. Few audiences, sectors or processes remain the same over long periods, and organisations will adapt to these. A good example is the rise of social media in communications and public relations. Studying abroad is an excellent way to show that you can adapt to completely new surroundings, quickly and without problems. Practically, a company will be keen to promote from within, rather than look externally and go through the hiring process all over again. In terms of daily activities, you will have proven you can adapt to circumstances as they arise.
- You bring a fresh perspective
Similarly, no one likes a “Yes Man”, who will constantly agree them and bring nothing new to the table. While you don’t want to appear big-headed, it is important to appear confident in your own abilities. Having studied in another country, you can make yourself invaluable to a business who may be considering that market for expansion in the years to come. Many graduates worry that they don’t have enough experience, or that they are too young for certain positions; the other side to that argument is that you bring an innovative outlook which will appeal to potential new clients in years to come.
- You are social
It may seem like an afterthought compared to qualifications and experience, but personality and character are important to employers. For all the qualifications and skills a candidate may have, if they appear difficult to interact with, it can sour an interviewer on them. After all, you’ll have to work with them eight hours a day, five/six days a week, for years to come. It takes a friendly, sociable and open-minded person to make new friends in a different country. Your time abroad will likely improve the way you interact with strangers too.
- You are different
This can be a good thing. While an interviewer will consider how you would fit into the current team, standing out in a positive way is key. It will distinguish your application and CV from the rest initially; something which is important in a competitive job market. Then, if you secure an interview, you will have something interesting to speak about. Either you can use your time abroad as a way to break the ice or lighten the mood in an interview; or you can point to this experience, to answer questions about abilities. If your interviewer has little knowledge about the country you have studied in, you will have something you can talk about from an expert point of view.
- Broad, global experience
When you study abroad, you’re taking in twice the knowledge. The textbook may teach you more or less the same curriculum as it would at home. But the people you’re surrounded by, the culture shock, the everyday occurrences that strike you as odd or different—those are all forms of “teachers” you wouldn’t be exposed to at home, safe inside your comfort zone. Learning about the world hands-on, as you do abroad, is just as marketable to potential employers as what you learned from Powerpoint slides or assigned readings.
- Problem solving skills
Living abroad throws all sorts of new and unforeseen problems your way, and chances are, if you completed your time overseas, you learned to resolve most of them. From seemingly petty problems like smoothing over cross-cultural issues with roommates, to more substantial ones like dealing with a foreign government’s bureaucracy, being abroad isn’t always a walk in the park. Problem solving is a skill employers look for in a strong applicant, so navigating those issues abroad—while surely a headache at the time—gives you a great bank of experience to draw from, and talk up during the interview.
During your time abroad, it’s likely you had to fend for yourself a bit more than you were accustomed to and have several challenges while studying abroad. Being much farther away from friends and family naturally begs you to become more self-sufficient. You’ll need to learn things as you go; pick up and carry on during hard times; even learn to boil pasta far away from your mother’s helping hands.[Read: 6 Things you should do while studying abroad] Your employer will appreciate this autonomy, as it shows you’ll be capable of managing and completing tasks that come your way.
- Appreciation of diversity
Your decision to study abroad demonstrates that you understand the importance of diversity—both cultural diversity, and on a more personal level, that of diversifying your academic experience and views. Hopefully you’ll also be able to appreciate diversity in the workplace, and even come to expect it for a company to thrive.