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Online job search tips for international graduate students

…OK, these tips are good not only for international graduate students - but let’s put you guys first in line!

If you have been following our blog, you know by now that international education is likely to get you ahead in the job market search. Yet, finding a job in another country can be extremely challenging. In a past post, we provided you with tips for finding a job abroad after graduation. This week, we will focus on using online tools to maximize your results in your job search, with a focus on the United States job market. We will not focus on the process of obtaining a work Visa / permit in this current blog.

The biggest challenge job-seekers face is to stand out from the crowd and get noticed. The US job market is huge. And with the economic downturn, employers and recruiters have thousands of CVs to go through and an unending pile of qualified job-seekers. For international students, the size of the market in the United States, combined with the cultural differences and lack of a network in that country, make finding a job all the more challenging. Understanding how to use online tools to search for a job in the United States will position you one step ahead in this market.

1.     Build your online profile: Having a comprehensive online presence that clearly and effectively represents your experience and aspirations will help employers find you and notice you among the thousands of others who are looking for jobs just like you. Use sites like LinkedIn, Monster, Indeed, Careerbuilder, dice (for IT jobs), simplyhired and many more, and create a profile on many of them (only those you trust, of course!). Recruiters (people who work for companies and are tasked with finding new employees, or people who work in placement companies that find candidates and match them to employers who are seeking new employees) search through these databases based on the information and keywords not only on your resume but also on your profile. Once you finalize your profile, you can choose to receive job recommendations from these sites. Sign up for these recommendations! Most of them will be irrelevant or even junk, but for the one or two jobs that are relevant – it is totally worth it. You can create a special email address just for that purpose if you wish.

2.     Create a resume that works for the local market: An online profile is vital to catch recruiters’ eyes, but it is your resume which is the most important component of your job application package. Make sure to make your resume relevant to the US market. Some things are cultural: in the US, do not include in your resume a picture, age, social security number, date of birth, sex, race and any other personal information. It is not culturally acceptable and may cause employers to disregard your resume for fear of discrimination lawsuits. Here are some good samples of professional resumes that you can get inspired by.

3.     Use keywords and buzzwords: A recent study found that  recruiters spend on average only 6 seconds reviewing an individual resume. A critical way that employers and recruiters will find you is through the keywords and buzzwords on your profile and resume. Make sure to put in relevant words to your field of study and career aspirations. To figure out what these words are, ask your Career development department at your graduate school, or ask recruiters who you speak with (see below on this point). You can also run a Google search for terms you think are relevant and see how many results come up. Use the ones that bring up the most results. Put the high-impact words at the beginning of sentences on your resume. Recruiters often do not read the whole sentences you write and skim through the resume.

4.     Emphasize your local experience: This is the Achilles heel for many good and proud international job applicants. It is a sad truth that employers are often not at all interested in your foreign experience. Even the most respected foreign companies are not likely to be known to them. Absurdly, a free internship position at an American company may be worth in their eyes more than a management role in the biggest company in your country! Therefore, in your resume and online profile, emphasize any experience you had in the country you are targeting for your job search (including unpaid internships and projects you did during your graduate studies). Especially in the US, but also in other countries, employers are interested in seeing that you can work effectively in the local culture and deliver results. Showing that you have already worked and succeeded in that environment will take you a long way.

5.     Get recommended: No need to include actual recommendation letters with your resume when you apply for specific jobs. Only provide recommendation letters or contact information if you are asked for them directly. Many US employers have stopped asking for recommendation letters because they feel they are not reliable, or are afraid of lawsuits related to negative recommendation letters. However, on your LinkedIn profile, it is actually helpful to get at least one person who you worked for or with to write a brief recommendation in perfect English on your profile. As we recommended in our blog about grad-school recommendation letters, have recommenders focus only on positive aspects – do not ask people who may write anything negative about you to write a recommendation.

6.     Be Active: Create a detailed list of employers that interest you and actively search and apply for jobs through their online job sites. All large employers have a “careers” website. Search their sites for potential jobs that match your background and aspirations and apply for these jobs. In many cases they will even keep your resume in a database and send you jobs that fit your background. Being active will also enable you to be among the first whose resume is being reviewed for a job. Considering the huge piles of resumes the recruiter is going to have within a few days or hours of posting a job, being among the first is a distinct advantage.

7.     Connect with people outside the digital world. You need a strong online presence, but having an opportunity to meet an employer or recruiter on the phone or face-to-face, will also make you stand out from the crowd. Meet, network, get introduced, try to schedule some time for coffee with them and do some “informational interviews” (an informal interview where you meet with someone from the company who answers questions you have about working there). It is good to look at LinkedIn if you and the person you want to meet have a common connection, and ask this person to introduce you. They will look at your online profile before the meeting, so make sure it is comprehensive and impressive. Oh, and here is an important note: when you speak or meet with a recruiter, try to also ask if they have any feedback about your resume. You’ll be surprised how nice and helpful people often are if you are just a normal person who asks politely for their help.

8.     Follow up, follow up, follow up. Be persistent, send emails to recruiters who have been in contact with you, find their phone number at work, call them directly, and politely say you have submitted an application for this role, and have some questions about it (prepare a couple of smart questions to ask when you call: about the role. NOT about the salary). It will make them pull your resume out of the stack of resumes they received and read it. This alone can make a huge difference.

9.     Spend many hours a day searching: finding a job is a full time job! If you are serious about finding a job in a country that is not your home country – you need to invest a lot of time in finding the right position for you and primarily – to spread your net as widely as possible so you get more exposure to potential employers. Set a goal for how many applications you will send per day and meet it! Check job boards at least five times a day. If anything new appears, you want to be among the first resumes to arrive.

10. Open your mind to related fields and jobs: Do not narrow your search so much that you will only have very few options. Look for related professional fields where you may gain practical experience that will allow you to later get the job of your dreams. For instance, you may want to intern at a prestigious employer so they, or other similar employers will later hire you.

11. Make sure you stand out “in a good way.” Recruiters do not appreciate a sense of humor in an application. Or anything that otherwise looks weird or out of line. They receive so many CVs that they do not feel they should take any risk with unusual candidates. As a foreigner, you have an inferior starting point in this sense. Don’t add to it by trying to be over-creative, funny or too personal. Make sure your grammar is perfect, your format is accurate, your style is culturally appropriate, and that you look as “American” and local as possible.
Within a few weeks, GradTrain will allow you to connect with people who have a similar background to your own, who have done what you want to do, and can guide you through the process. Many of them hold prestigious jobs and know a lot about applying for jobs in the US and other countries. To participate in our Beta program and to register for more information go here or send us an email to:

Been through this experience and can help others? Become a gradtrain coach!

Food Shopping in America: A Survival Guide

This week, we are happy to host a guest blog by Deena Barselah , a Holistic Health and Wellness Coach, on a topic that is important to anyone who goes to study in another country – maintaining a healthy nutrition while you are abroad. Today’s blog provides useful information and survival tips for food shopping in the United States of America.

Everything is big in America and one of the places that can be most overwhelming is a supermarket. You’ll see aisles upon aisles of products with flashy colors, health claims, advertisements and marketing. The most seasoned shopper can find this dizzying, but for anyone new to this country, it can be downright overwhelming and intimidating.

The reality is that with so many food buzzwords, it’s hard to know the difference between good marketing and meaningful information. Some of these health claims have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA - a governmental body in the United States that regulates human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation), while others are simply at the discretion of the individual company. You’ll encounter many of the terms I outline here and I want to set you straight right from the start.


The FDA says, “From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, the FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term “natural” or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances.”

By the above definition (or non-definition), high fructose corn syrup is natural.

Other claims that sound meaningful but are not at all regulated:
· “Doctor recommended”

· “Heart healthy”

· “Green”

· “Eco-friendly”

· “Sustainable”

· “Strengthens immune system”

· “Guilt-free”

“Made with whole grains”

You might think that all of the grains in the food are whole grains, but there’s no rule about what percentage of the food is actually made with whole grains. And, by the way, when “wheat flour” is listed in the ingredients, that’s just flour. Plain old refined, white, and refined flour.

Now onto animal foods… America is really into factory farming and so it is especially important to know where your animal foods are coming from to avoid these bad practices.

“Free range” or “free roaming”

This term usually applies to chickens. According to the USDA, these claims merely mean that “producers must demonstrate to the agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside.” This leaves it up to the individual farmer to decide how much access the animals receive. The USDA considers 5 minutes of open air access each day to be adequate to approve the use of a “free range” claim on a poultry product.

“Cage free”

Implies that the egg-laying hens don’t live in cages. What it really means is that they can walk around, but they can also be fed, raised and slaughtered like any other chicken and there’s no official regulation for this term.

“Real fruit”

This is often listed on sweetened products and those marketed to parents and children. This term can be used when the amount of fruit is almost non-existent and can come from juice concentrate. These products can be mostly refined sugar with a small amount of actual fruit or fruit juice.

“Enriched” or “Fortified”

This is a personal favorite of mine. Whenever you see these words on your food (commonly on milk, boxed cereals, and milk alternatives like soy and almond milk), read this as “depleted.” A manufacturer adds these synthetic vitamins and minerals back into the food because they were lost in the processing of the food. A boxed breakfast cereal goes through very high processing to form a flake, O, square, etc and most of the nutrients are lost in that process. Milk loses most of its nutrients in the pasteurization process, so they add back in the vitamin A and D in synthetic form.


Poultry and pigs are not commonly given hormones (factory farmed often receive antibiotics, but that’s another story). It’s the cattle that get the hormones so they can grow big and fat and be slaughtered earlier than if nature took its course. The problem here is that it is impossible to show that hormones were not used for beef, so the designation comes entirely from the individual company. You are simply taking their word for it.

“Whole wheat”

This means that there is some amount of whole wheat in the product. If you’re looking for a food to be 100% whole wheat, check the ingredients. Make sure whole-wheat flour is the first ingredient and no other flours are present.

I’ve just listed a few here, but you get the idea. Investigating these claims is essential so that you don’t fall for a company’s marketing.

You are exposed to marketing and advertising everywhere. Your best bet is to buy food that doesn’t even have a label… like a carrot or lettuce or fish or cheese from a cheese counter. These are all real foods and always your most nutritious choice rather than things that come in a package.

Tips for Success:

Head to the periphery of the market rather than down the aisles. The produce section is a safe place. The coolers, for the most part, are better than the aisles. It’s around the periphery of the market that you’ll find meat, fish, poultry, dairy, produce and other food that can spoil. You don’t want to load up on food that has an indefinite shelf-life like chips, soda, salad dressings and other packaged and processed foods. Know that if a food has a health claim, there is a reason; the company is spending money on marketing. Remember, a carrot does not have a health claim for a reason! It's a whole food and it needs no marketing. You know it's good for you.
Deena Barselah is a Holistic Health & Wellness Coach.

Follow Deena:

Become a GradTrain Coach!

Help ambitious and intelligent people get into graduate school abroad and become what you are!

GradTrain is an online platform that enables prospective international students to choose the right program, get accepted to graduate school abroad, and complete their studies successfully.

We do this by connecting prospective students with people with a similar background who have been through this process successfully and can guide them, and by providing sophisticated data-driven tools to enhance their decision making process.  

We now invite you to become a coach on GradTrain so you can share your experience with those who want to go through the process you have completed, and make their experience more friendly and accessible and less of a guessing game. And – you can make money in the process and still make it significantly cheaper for the applicants compared to other services that are out there today.

Our goal at GradTrain is to reduce the unknown in the international application process to graduate school abroad, and give prospective students better tools to make informed decisions and succeed in their careers. Below is a short animation video about GradTrain and how it will help prospective international students (you can also find it on our homepage and in previous blog posts).

Who can be a coach?

If you have successfully completed your graduate degree abroad (Masters/Doctorate – MA, MBA, LLM, M.Sc., PhD, Dr. Sc., SJD / JSD, and more) in any academic field or are currently enrolled in a graduate program abroad in good standing, and are able to advise other people on how to get to where you currently are – we want you!

At GradTrain we know that if you have successfully applied to university programs abroad in the past, you have successfully overcome many obstacles and know how to apply to programs in a specific country and in your specific field. By building your profile on the GradTrain website, GradTrain enables you to make the best use of this expert knowledge by matching you to prospective students that share a similar background with you (e.g. come from the same country as you, want to study in the same field as you and in the  same country abroad). We believe that this matching will enable you to be an effective coach because you will be matched with prospective students that are in the same situation you were in just one, two or five years ago.

You will be able to coach prospective students with general advice on graduate school abroad, choosing the right program, writing a resume and essays, cultural adjustments, recommendation latters, finding a job after graduation, and any other topics you can provide advice on to help them in their quest for international education.

We plan to launch the full GradTrain platform in August 2013, and if you sign up now, you will be able to shape the development of the system prior to the launch by providing feedback on your user experience.

Why join GradTrain?

-Help others: Applying to school abroad is a stressful process, full of uncertainties. You can help prospective students make informed decisions.

-Rewarding: Earn money from sharing your experience and knowledge.

-Flexible: Coach when you want, where you want (all interactions are online). Set your own price!

-Enhance your network: Get connected to other professionals with international academic backgrounds from your field and from other fields.
Among our coaches and applicants on GradTrain, you will find the international scholars, professionals and leaders who will shape our world in the years to come. Together – we can broaden access to international education and make a positive impact on the world.

We warmly invite you to join us!

If you are interested in becoming a GradTrain coach, please visit our website at or send us an email to

What is GradTrain?

An American, Norwegian, Israeli, French and Swiss sat on a Middle Eastern beach…

This is not the beginning of a joke. It is the beginning of a journey we started less than one year ago with GradTrain. We invite you to join us on this journey.

We are five friends from five different countries who crossed an ocean or two to study in the United States, in different fields: Computer Science, Engineering , Sociology, and Law. On that Middle Eastern beach, on that hot summer day, we discussed our experiences applying to Graduate school abroad: the challenges we faced and the funny mistakes we made (which were not at all funny at the time!). As our conversation progressed, we saw that we all faced similar challenges (lack of information, spending money unnecessarily in the process, and more). We also came to the conclusion that it should not be so hard - and that we can help - by creating a solution that will make it easier for others who are interested in doing what we did and study abroad.

That moment marked the birth of GradTrain: an online community for ambitious young people who wish to get into graduate school abroad and complete their studies successfully.

GradTrain: the solution for prospective international graduate students
First, we ran a broad international survey, to find out if maybe, after all, we were the only ones who faced such problems. The answer was very clear. After analyzing the results from hundreds of current and past international graduate students from more than 50 countries (and confirming it with external research sources as well) we can say with certainty that most prospective students do not have the guidance they need for applying to graduate school abroad (and in many cases pay huge sums of money to obtain guidance). Surely, many of our readers can confirm this from their personal experience.

We know how to help people fulfill their potential through international graduate studies. International students often wish they knew “then” – i.e., when they applied, what they know “now,” after they are in school or after graduation. This is the concept of GradTrain. GradTrain connects applicants with former international students with a similar background and similar career trajectory who have already completed the process successfully and can provide the right guidance for them to achieve their goals. They will hold the hand of the applicants throughout the process and empower them to maximize their potential.

We combine this guidance with data-based algorithms, which can assist applicants in the process with program selection, scheduling, application enhancement, seeking financial support and more.

We create a community of able, intelligent, curious and ambitious people who understand the value of globalization and are excited by it. We provide them with the tools to help each other in achieving their academic and career goal. Eventually, it is from this community that the future leaders and top researchers – in science, medicine, business, law, engineering, politics, social sciences, humanities and in academia – will emerge.

GradTrain - A Socially Responsible Startup

We want to solve a real problem and help individuals fulfill their potential. But graduate study abroad is not only a benefit for the individual who pursues these studies. GradTrain sees itself as a double-bottom line business. We measure our success not only by business sustainability, but also by the positive impact we have on the world.

We believe that the solution to many global challenges lies in empowering intelligent and ambitious people to study anywhere across the globe; being exposed to other cultures opens one’s mind to see other perspectives and challenges basic assumptions about our own culture. “No kidding, going through this experience can help bring peace. Real, tangible peace.” says Lital Helman (Israel), a GradTrain co-founder. “Some of the best friends I made in America are from countries with which my country has no diplomatic relations. There is no way I would have otherwise met them.” When students graduate and go back home, or integrate into the country where they studied, they are rich with knowledge and experiences learned from the diversity and interaction between cultures that they experienced during their studies.

Studying abroad is also a humbling experience. The people who pursue graduate programs abroad are often the upper-upper class in their own society. For many of them, this will be the first time to experience how it is to be a minority; to have an accent; to feel like an outsider. This experience has the potential to make a person more attentive to the weaker sectors of society later on in life.

“In our vision,” says Sharon Rodner (Norway), a GradTrain co-founder, “everybody in the world deserves to have the opportunity to pursue this experience of international education. Yet, more than 50% of those who try – fail in the process. There are many more who do not even try because of the challenges the process entails. We aim to enable more people to go through this experience successfully.”

Crowdfunding GradTrain

We have encountered some great excitement and enthusiasm about the solution we are introducing for a real problem and feel that we as a team can make GradTrain a success. We are close to launching our Beta platform in a few weeks and are now signing up and training coaches to make a real difference and simplify the challenging process of applying and studying abroad.

Based on our vision, we want our first external funding to be based on the power of the internet to mobilize people across the world, create a community and increase the opportunity of many individuals to participate in a solution to a global issue. We have thus decided to launch a (non-equity) Crowdfunding camapaign, where many people from across the globe can join us and support what we are trying to achieve, and fulfill our business and social goals.

“Crowdfunding is a platform that democratizes start-up investments just as GradTrain aims to democratize the international education process”, says Jacob Bacon, a Former advisor at the United Nations and a GradTrain Co-Founder. “Building a community where people can reach out and get help from people of similar backgrounds, that share interests and goals and have gone through the process of applying  and studying abroad successfully, combined with cutting-edge data to enable informed decisions,  is what GradTrain is all about. Together – we can broaden access to international education and make a positive impact on the world, for generations to come.”

GradTrain will be launching its crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo in a few weeks. We hope you will follow us through the Crowdfunding campaign, and support us in any way you can. If you are in the New York City area, we are planning a launch party for our crowdfunding campaign. Email us if you would like to join us in this campaign and we will be happy to keep you posted and send you additional information on how you can partner with us to make GradTrain a huge success!