I was giving a presentation at Baruch College in New York City last Friday. And as I typically do in all my presentations, I made the point that international students shouldn’t invest time trying to get a job through HR department representatives – particularly if the company has a policy against visa sponsorship. The reason why is because recruiters aren’t typically empowered to overturn hiring policy even if they want to. What I didn’t have time to mention in my presentation is that lots of HR people actually do want to. But they can’t.
Why you should look to hiring managers for your H1b visa sponsorship – not HR
HR recruiters like to fill jobs; many of them get paid commission based on their fills and lots of them are likely to feel as much animosity for company policy against sponsoring H1B’s are you do. Why? Because the policy sometimes prohibits recruiters from considering international candidates who might be a great fit for a role that’s been difficult to fill. When I was recruiting, it was really annoying to have to ignore a great candidate simply because he or she needed visa sponsorship. I wanted to fill the job, cross it off my list, collect my commission and make the hiring manager happy. If I could have over-turned, or ignored company policy, I would have. But I couldn’t. Here’s why:
Any budget for visa sponsorship had to come out of the hiring manager’s department – which I didn’t control.
As part of the HR team, I had to demonstrate solidarity with its policies.
Because I wasn’t the hiring manager (the ultimate decision maker), I didn’t have the expertise to assess whether or not an international candidate was “worth” the extra expenses of H1B visa sponsorship.
Candidates coming directly to HR (through job postings, recruiters, advertisements, etc.) generally run headlong into company policy. But candidates coming from the hiring manager can find their path surprisingly unencumbered by questions about H1B’s. Why? Because hiring managers are more concerned with making money and meeting their goals than they are with company policy. And if they find a candidate who will help them achieve either of those things, visas don’t seem like much of an obstacle. With a hiring manager’s support, it’s much easier for a recruiter to challenge the company’s ‘no sponsorship’ policy and fight for an exception. This is one of the reasons why, as an international student, you should invest all of your job search outreach into connecting with hiring managers. Help recruiters help you by reaching out to hiring managers first, selling your value and making it easier for everyone to get you a visa.