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Recruiting and sourcing: Non-U.S. resident issues and overcoming rejection.

Yvonne LaRose, CAC

In spite of my advanced degrees, ability to speak, read and write excellent, fluent English and my extensive administrative and professional experience in my native country, it seems I always get passed over in deference to a U.S. candidate. How can I show that my education matches the stated requirememts? What can I do to improve my competitive edge?

You ask some excellent questions that apply not only to non-U.S. but domestic candidates, white men, women, those over 40 and non-whites. However, there are some unique dynamics when it comes to working with non-U.S. candidates. In fact, this discussion came up during another conversation.

There are a number of things that a recruiter, and in turn a hiring manager, looks at and considers when a non-U.S. candidate's resume comes through in the responses. Some of these take conscious thought, others are subconscious decisions and yet other matters are simply business plan decisions.

Visa Status
Most, if not all, online resume sites have a section at the bottom for a statement of citizenship and visa status. Make certain this is completed. The recruiter will want to and needs to know this.

The first question in the recruiter's mind is whether this person has a valid visa or green card that allows them to work in the United States. If so, they will also want to know the classification and how much time it allows the candidate compared with the length of the opportunity.

Next, the recruiter will wonder whether the person has a sponsor. Some companies only work with retained search firms, some work with contingency firms. If the recruiter is a retained firm and they do not have an existing relationship with the sponsoring company, there are a number of issues that arise that affect the feasibility of the search. Additionally, a question could arise as to whether the recruiter was retained by the candidate to perform the search.

There are many other considerations. For a good site that discusses immigration and work issues, let me suggest you visit Visa Now. Please visit their Related Services page as well, which is good and extensive.

Near the top of the resume, or sometimes after the Background Experience section, is the Education section. The schools at which the candidate has studied and earned degrees are listed. Accomplishments and awards are sometimes noted.

These are all great. But if the school is not in the United States, the recruiter is going to wonder what educational system the school uses (if it is a lesser-known school), what its educational distinction is, and how its grades compare with other schools and U.S. standards in particular.

It's helpful if there is a notation of the university's accreditation and the name or initials of the accrediting body.

Writing, Language and the Cover Letter
The cover letter and the resume have one common, automatic rejection factor -- the language used. If the grammar and syntax are poor, the punctuation sloppy, the spelling haphazard, or the language too stiff or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, relies heavily on slang, the recruiter is not going to spend a lot of time on learning more about the candidate.

Getting Noticed
So you know that you're very qualified but you're having trouble getting people on the phone for an informational interview or to just get additional information about the opportunity. When you're using a headhunter or recruiting professional, there are some other techniques to getting a foot in the door. The one principle that is my mantra -- network.

No one is going to have an opportunity to see who you are until you get out and about. Join associations and become active in some way. Attend meetings and get to know the other members. Discuss various industry-related topics with them and exchange ideas. Please do not feel you have to be the walking encyclopedia or number one guru. But with well-chosen input and good participation, people will remember you and comment in a positive way to others. They will refer you.

There are real world associations and organizations that are very useful for networking and staying abreast of what's happening in that particular discipline. There are also online discussion groups that, while do not provide the same personal contact, are quite useful for getting you noticed, known, recommended and referred.

Other Resources
Some other sites that provide diversity information that may prove useful to you are:
  • Diversity, Inc. - This site features pro-diversity issues on a number of subjects. After perusing the front page for a while, you may want to explore the Workforce section.
  • Workforce Online - An excellent Human Resources site that has quite a number of channels. Visit Recruiting & Staffing for some useful insights.
  • Pro2Net - Human Resources - A four-specialty education and professional site, Pro2Net has a Human Resources channel that provides some excellent articles and resources. Even if you're the candidate, it's useful to check some of the articles to learn more about the hiring manager's thinking and priorities. You may want to look at "Helping the Best People Find Your Door."
  • Wetfeet - Diversity - A noted website that has very useful articles on many aspects of diversity as well as good resources.