Moving to a new country is a daunting task, made even more challenging by the fact that you may not be familiar with the local culture and customs. This is especially true when it comes to finding a job. The United States has its own unique set of expectations and protocols when it comes to job searching, and if you're not familiar with them, you could find yourself at a distinct disadvantage.
Here are a few tips to help you get started on your job search in the United States:
Research the Culture
Every country has different cultural norms and expectations, especially when it comes to professional environments. Familiarize yourself with American business culture by doing research online, reading books, or taking courses. That way, you can avoid any unintentional missteps during your job search or interviews.
Start with your network
One of the best ways to find a job in any country is to leverage your personal and professional relationships. If you know anyone who lives in the United States, reach out to them and let them know you're looking for work. They may be able to put you in touch with someone at their company who can help you get your foot in the door, or they may be aware of other opportunities that would be a good fit for your skillset.
Your network can be anywhere that you connect with people. This could be online, in your church, or through community groups. You may not be connected with people professionally, but those people can often help you advance professionally. And, in many cases, those people in your network have encountered similar challenges. So, ask them for help or guidance as you launch your job search in the US.
Utilize Job Boards
There are a number of different job search engines specifically for foreign national job seekers in the United States. Utilizing these resources can help you find opportunities that you may not have otherwise come across.
Some popular job search engines for foreign nationals include:
- H1B Jobs
- Diversity Jobs
- Green Card Jobs
Grow Your Network
Networking is key to finding a job in any country, but it's especially important in the U.S. Many jobs are found through personal connections, so reach out to your network of friends, family, and acquaintances and let them know you're looking for work. Attend meetups and professional events related to your industry to make new contacts.
There are also many community or non-profit groups in the US that want to help people newer to the US. Do your research to identify the places that can assist in achieving your professional goals. Many of these organizations have tools in place to provide referrals or other resources to advance your career. Others will be able to point you in the right direction to find the help or industry expertise that you need to meet your career goals in the US. But, you need to commit to growing your network as part of your job search in the US and that starts with asking for help.
Create or update your resume and LinkedIn profile
Take some time to tailor your resume and LinkedIn profile to the American market. Use action words, quantifiable metrics, and language that is common in the U.S., even if it doesn't sound natural to you. You want to make sure that potential employers can easily understand your skills and experience.
You also don't have to do this yourself. Many people will reach out to US-based professional resume writers like The Contingent Plan to ensure that they have a resume and LinkedIn profile that meets the expectations of US employers.
Use online resources.
There are a number of online resources that can be helpful in your job search, including job boards, social media, and company websites. These tools can help you to understand the market and to tailor your message. Remember to use this information in your job search. This could be in how you apply to jobs, how you build your message, in your interview preparation, or by finding new connections to grow your network.
Be prepared for phone or video interviews
In the United States, it's common for employers to conduct interviews by phone or video - this is especially true post-pandemic. This can be challenging for many English learners who use non-verbal cues to gain context for the questions asked. Nevertheless, these phone or video interviews (even the automated ones) are just as serious as in-person interviews in the US. So, make sure to treat these phone or video interviews just like you would an in-person interview.
The best way to prepare for these challenges is to practice. This could be with a friend or family member or a professional career coach like those at The Contingent Plan. However you prepare, make sure that you do it and that you are ready to put your best foot forward when you get the chance to interview with the company.
Get a work visa
If you want to work in the US long-term, you'll need to obtain a work visa before applying for jobs. There are several different types of work visas available, so be sure to do your research and figure out which one is right for you before beginning your job search.
Follow up after interviews.
It's always a good idea to follow up after an interview, whether it's by sending a thank-you note or emailing the interviewer directly. This shows that you're interested in the position and allows you to reiterate why you would be the perfect candidate for the job.
Meetings might happen over lunch or dinner.
If you are invited out to lunch or dinner as part of a meeting with a potential employer, remember that these meals are still considered business meetings. This means that you should avoid ordering alcohol, as it can make you appear unprofessional. Stick to water or order something light so that you're able to focus on the conversation at hand.
Be patient and persistent
Last but not least, remember that finding a job in a new country can take time, so be patient and persistent in your search. It might take longer than you expect to find the perfect position, but don't give up! Keep networking, interviewing, and applying until you find the right fit for you.
The US job market can be very competitive, especially if you aren't a citizen. There are ways to give yourself a better chance of being hired. Keep these tips in mind during your job search in the United States, and you'll be well on your way to landing the perfect position in no time!