Five soft skills that make international students stand out during job hunting

Bring your ‘A-game' when looking for a job as an international student

International students play an important role in the Australian workforce, especially in the retail, hospitality and service industries. With the lowest unemployment rate since August 2008, this is the best time for polishing your resume to get your dream job in the land down under. International students have a great reputation among employers on the Gold Coast, specifically for their soft skills and diverse backgrounds.

A recent survey published at the Harvard Business Review found that employers have been adding more-detailed soft-skills requirements in their postings between 2017 and 2021, and this trend is here to stay. If you're an international student here's five soft skills that will help you to stand out and get a job in Australia.

1    Resilience

As soon as you landed in Australia, you went to a different school or university, lived in a new home and probably started to speak a new language daily. In other words, you had to adapt yourself to the circumstances. The word resilience is defined as ‘an ability to recover from or adjust easily to change’, and international students have been doing that since day one when studying overseas. We are masters in being resilient, and you should take advantage of it when looking for a job.

Employees see resilience as a fundamental skill, especially in the fast-paced environment that we’re currently living in. Studies reveal that more than half of recruitment agents and managers see resilience as a key skill for job candidates. It is seen as a competitive advantage to the business.

2.   Curiosity

Curiosity in the workplace increases productivity and efficiency. On the other hand, it's also a crucial component for creating a diverse and cooperative work environment. There’s a great chance that if you decide to study overseas, you’re curious about other cultures and lifestyles. Students from all over the world choose to come to Australia to see and experience the friendly and laid-back nature of the Aussie culture. And this is exactly what curiosity is all about. As a curious employee, you can contribute to the company by discovering new and better ways to do things.

3.   Decision-making

If you’re now an international student in Australia, at some point you decided: “I’m going to Australia”. Since then, you have considered key factors that would affect the outcome of your decision to study overseas. You evaluated your options and navigated uncertainties. All of these aspects are part of the development of decision-making skills.

Companies seek candidates with decision-making skills at any job level, as staff need to have the capacity to make the best decisions. When going to an interview, consider previous job experiences that you used this type of skill to solve an issue, for example. With that, you’ll score points!  

4.   Problem-solving

Problem-solving goes hand in hand with decision-making, and usually, you’ll need to make some decisions to solve an issue. Using the hospitality industry as an example, if you work as a waiter, your role will include working out the best way to resolve problems to minimise the effects on guests' overall experience. When issues arise in a hotel or restaurant, there isn't much time to test various solutions and run them past management. You’ll need to use your judgement and experience to solve issues on the spot.

During an interview, when a recruitment agent or manager are looking for this skill, these are the questions that can be used:

  • Would you be able to give us an example of a situation at work or university when you were faced with a problem you couldn't solve? What did you do?
  • How do you deal with an issue that you’ve never previously experienced?
  • What do you do in a difficult situation when you can’t seem to find the right solution to it?

5.   Proactivity

No matter what industry you want to apply for, being proactive is an essential soft skill. Proactive people are active and energetic, always looking for ways to bring better results to the company, even if this is not directly related to their job description. They’re the first ones who reach out to the customer, for example, to resolve their issue before it takes place.

Proactivity is an essential characteristic of standing out in the work environment and conquering higher positions and even better salaries. Make sure that you develop this skill and highlight it in your resume.

Things to bear in mind

If you are preparing for the job market as an international student, remember that you have key skills to stand out from your competitors. Highlight them on your resume, and remember to mention situations during the interview that demonstrated when you used those skills. Believe in yourself and go for it!

 *Gabriela Damaceno is studying a Master of Philosophy at Bond University. On the weekends, you can find Gabriela free diving or hiking on the Gold Coast. You can connect with her via Instagram @gabe_damaceno_ or LinkedIn @gabriela-damaceno.