We live in an era where there is a lot of pressure on our workforce due to urbanisation and globalisation. Social, political, and economic forces, too, demand such individuals to perform in a certain manner. Students, on the other hand, have access to a wide range of opportunities to deepen their understanding of global issues and broaden their world view. They can successfully be a part of non-credit experiential learning programs, study abroad programs, work abroad, or volunteer projects.
Such students accumulate international exposure that is considered an "X-factor" in the job acquisition process. However, even with the best of intentions, several of them have difficulties in articulating (in resumes and interviews) how their study, travel, or work abroad experience defines their overall decision-making when looking for a job. It is exceptionally important that campuses assist their student body in articulating how their international experiences provided better clarity about their career goals along with strengthening particular skills that are deemed important by almost all employers.
The Global Workplace
In order to understand how employers view a candidate's overseas experience, we need to grasp the meaning of "global workplace". You might assume that securing a job on the basis of your international experience might get you shuttling from one country to country, but the truth is that most new employees join the ranks of the so called "domestic internationals" whose international careers are based in their home countries itself.
In such a workplace, you will continue to stay at home but will use technology to communicate with suppliers, market products and services to clients, and coordinate with overseas offices. There will be no dearth of exposure to foreign culture - but without setting foot overseas.
According to a report by the Rand Corporation and the National Association of Colleges and Employers, hiring managers look for students who have expertise in a particular field called domain knowledge. This also includes interpersonal, decision-making, problem solving, and communication skills along with previous work experience. Of course, these criteria have been in place since the dawn of the human resource department.
So from students who have studied abroad, the additional quality that they look for is cross-cultural competency, which is the ability to work and perform in a multicultural environment. In short, employers are basically interested in the professional as well as personal skills of a student through which they can adapt to studying, living, and working with a varied group of individuals.
Keeping all the positives aside, several campus recruiters rank studying abroad quite low in their list of experiences that they seek in prospective employees. The rationale behind this thought process stems from the fact that simply possessing an international degree is not enough. What is required are superior skills that meet the demands of the multi-ethnic and multi-national work force.
Here is a list of certain competencies that students with international experience can develop to further hone their business management skills:
- Cross-cultural competence
- Language fluency (applied usage and not just literary usage)
- Interpersonal and relationship skills
- Ambiguity tolerance and adaptability
- Real world experience
- Exemplary listening and communication skills
- Solving problems creatively
- Contributing to a team with ethnically diverse members
- Taking personal risks and acting independently
- Being flexible and adaptable to changing situations
- Imagining, analysing, forecasting, or addressing business situations from a different point of view
These key points are very important for helping students to make their overseas experience relevant to hiring managers. So if you think your international experience has succeeded in instilling these qualities in you, there is no way you won't be visible to the employers.
In the End
It is clear that there are several implications for a student job seeker. It is not enough to have international experience, which doesn't offer much value to an employer. Essentially the job seeker must be able to articulate about his experiences in terms of transferable skills that he developed during his tenure abroad - skills that could be employed at the workplace. Doing so can be an enormous challenge for many students.