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How Do Europeans Initiate Contact with U.S. Firms? Ask The Expert

A: New York-based recruiter Deborah Rivera isn't surprised firms haven't responded. The recruitment process usually starts earlier, even before graduation. Most of the top multi-national firms have strong, well-developed on-campus recruitment programs, where students interested in working for those firms sign up for interviews with the firm's recruiters when they visit their university.

It doesn't help that the United States is a very popular work destination among international students.

"Working in the U.S. is the choice of many international college graduates, making the competition for openings quite challenging," Rivera says.

That means the investment banks can afford to be choosey, she adds.

"To get a New York-based company to sponsor you - especially an investment bank - you need absolutely top credentials from a top institution," Rivera said, citing Harvard University, Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University. "Being multi-lingual and having connections wouldn't hurt either."

But not all hope is lost, according to Rivera. She suggests applying to for jobs in less cosmopolitan places, like Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota or Wyoming, where the need for international employees may be greater. Those hiring quantitative positions also value awards and fellowships, like the Fulbright Fellowship, or other noteworthy academic distinctions, like being a Rhodes Scholar.

Rod Williams, a job market consultant with Lee Hecht Harrison in New York, says the lack of response could be due concerns about national security. It's playing a larger role in the recruitment process these days, particularly for international students.

"In this era of heightened security procedures and processing, it's unlikely you'll get much in the way of a response from what amounts to cold calling," he said.

For those who don't already have a network of contacts in the United States, it's probably best to attend some of the free or low cost networking events to build up the contact base.

"With security concerns being what they are, there's never been more emphasis placed on referrals from qualified sources," Williams said.

Readers advise:

I find your commentary with regards to Europeans contacting U.S. firms a litte bit ridiculous. Of course if someone was to win a Rhodes Scholarship or graduate first in their class from Harvard, this would open doors. How about winning a Nobel Prize too? Giving this as advice to potential job seekers is totally useless and stating the obvious. It would be like telling an aspiring actor to go get a role in a Spielberg movie if they want a career in entertainment.

If you would like to submit a question to our panel of experts, ASK THE EXPERT.

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