Career Advice Tuesday – “Timely Disclosure”
February 7, 2012
I have a specific question regarding my personal situation. I am an information security professional and I am currently working in the US on an H1-B Visa. I have recently grown dissatisfied with my current company and I am looking for new challenges.
From listening to my colleagues (also working on H1-B Visa’s) discuss their personal information security job search experiences, I have learned that many companies are unwilling to sponsor or transfer the sponsorship of candidates working on H1-B Visa’s due to corporate human resources policy.
What I wanted to ask you, was when should I reveal my work status to perspective employers? My feeling is that I should wait until I am deep in the interview process, so that they can judge me for my skills and not work status. Am I wrong to think that with the right skills, I can convince a company to change their policies.
Dear “Temp Res”
I will be the first person to tell you that I am not an expert on H-1 B and Visa issues. However, over the course of my career I have worked with many candidates who have had to face this issue at some point during their recruitment process and their careers.
Basically, when we work with clients looking for talent, they fall into two distinct categories, those who are willing and equipped to sponsor candidates, and those who are unwilling to do so. In my years of doing this, while I have seen many instances where clients who were willing to sponsor candidates, decide that they no longer would, there has only been one instance where I have witnessed a client augment their policy to enable a candidate to be sponsored. In this situation, the candidate was a noted authority on a specific subject matter, had written books on the topic, and the CISO was fully empowered to make this exception. When they did apply for the exception, the CISO had to make a business case and the exception had to be approved by the corporation’s global head of human resources.
With this in mind, my best guidance for you would be to reveal your work status at the onset of the interview process, and that you will require sponsorship. I believe this for two key reasons – the value of time and integrity. Plain and simple, timing is a key element of any interview process. If you find yourself focusing on opportunities that cannot come to fruition (based on a known factor), then you may be distracting yourself from opportunities that could be both interesting and possible. I also think that for candidates in your situation it is important to join companies that have hiring processes that embrace employees who are not US Citizens. Companies that have cultures that encourage this type of hiring, often are more knowledgeable of these issues, are more supportive in the Green Card process, and have employees in leadership positions that have been through this very same process.
In addition, as an information security professional you are often judged on integrity, honesty, and openness. Failing to inform a prospective employer of your work status, may be considered a form of misrepresentation. I use the work “may”, because, like in all processes, you are at the whim of the opinions of the decision maker or makers. Letting everyone know at the onset that this is a potential issue, enables the prospective employer to plan accordingly, budget the necessary costs, and engage the proper internal parties. By doing this, you set the foundation for a future work relationship, by letting your future employer know that sponsorship is an important issue for you, and a critical component to your future career.
Again, there are many more experienced in these matters, so please treat my response that way. Independent, I do know that no one ever lost an opportunity for being too honest and forthcoming!
Hope this helps,