7 Tips for Job Hunting in the USA
If you’re thinking of moving to America then you’ll almost definitely need to find a job there. In fact, most people can’t even get themselves a permanent visa without first having a US job offer. There’s clearly no shortage of employment opportunities in America; the country is massive and many of its cities are key players in the world economy. However, job hunting in the US as a foreign immigrant can be challenging, so it’s important to be as prepared as possible before you start looking. Here are MoveHub’s best bits of advice when it comes to securing a job in the land of opportunity.
1. Go online
It doesn’t matter that you’re stuck in Australia looking for a job in America; just go on the internet. In the olden days of newspaper ads, seeking employment on the other side of the world would have been almost unthinkable, but thankfully things have a gotten a little easier. The vast majority of US employers advertise their vacancies online – it’s all about making sure you’re using the best sites:
LinkedIn isn’t just for networking. The site has grown into one of the world’s most popular online locations for posting and applying for job openings. In April 2017, more than ten million active job posts were recorded on the site, so it’s clearly getting some use. Having a strong LinkedIn profile is one of the best things you can do to help your job search. It doesn’t matter how you apply for a job; your potential employer will almost certainly search your name on Google and see if you have a LinkedIn profile. Skills, experiences, achievements; you should get everything on there.
Indeed does a lot of the hard work for you, gathering together loads of job advertisements from across the internet and putting them all on one neat website. All you need to do is scroll through and find the ones you like. It’s essentially Google for jobs, meaning you can search for specific roles and filter the results by loads of different things, such as job description, location, salary etc. It’s officially the busiest job search engine in the world, with over one billion searches per month. There’s also a nifty mobile app if you need an on-the-go job-hunting fix.
Glassdoor is a sort of combination of Google and Yelp for people seeking work. While you can use it to search job listings, the best thing about it is the vast number of company reviews. Employers can learn all about you on places like LinkedIn, but what if you want to know more about them? Testimonials from past employees can offer really valuable insights, and a review on Glassdoor is worth ten times more than something written by the company itself. The site is also good for finding out about salary information and CEO approval ratings.
CareerOneStop is a little more obscure, but it’s one of the handful of US government-sponsored sites available to job seekers in America. You can narrow down your job search state-by-state and it offers loads of advice when it comes to finding local, face-to-face help. There’s a database of links that can take you to the job bank website for any particular state, for example the Virginia Workforce Connection or Ohio Means Jobs. Regional employers can post job openings on these sites for free.
2. Americanize your CV
And you can start by calling it a ‘resume’. The very wise Mark Twain once said “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”, so the quality of your resume is super important. Obviously this is relevant to job hunting in any country, but our very particular advice for seeking work in the US is that you make your resume sound American. You want it to be as readable as possible for your potential employer in the States, so American spellings and phrases are a must.
If you aren’t confident of the American way of writing, simply put your resume through a US spell-checker before you send it off. However, a spell-checker won’t pick up on words that aren’t typically used in America, so make sure you run any technical terms or acronyms by Google to see if they’re known in the States. Likewise, your university grade in Australia might mean very little to an American, so you need to keep things clear. Jeannie Yang’s excellent My Guide to American English offers an entertaining way to pick things up, and you can also try this quick breakdown on theWriter.com.
Everything else about an American resume is fairly similar to global standards, with your qualifications and achievements listed in reverse chronological order. Don’t forget to put your name at the top!
3. Get the right qualifications
This is easier said than done, of course. You can’t just put your big move to America on hold for two years while you grab a quick marketing diploma. However, it’s important to note that job hunting in America as a foreign immigrant puts you at an immediate disadvantage. For most US employers, they are only able to hire someone from outside the States if they can prove that there is nobody suitably qualified and available for the job within the country. This means that having relevant qualifications and/or a unique specialization is very important if you want a chance of securing employment in America. If you’ve got your heart set on a particular type of job in America and you know there are gaps in your CV, you should be prepared for a much more difficult process than what you’ve been used to in Australia.
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4. Do your visa research
The US immigration system is pretty lengthy and complicated, but it would be wise to know a bit about it before you start your job search. The E3 Australian Professional Specialty Visa is the easiest way for Aussies to enter the US, created specifically for Australian nationals. If you’re capable of performing a ‘specialty occupation’ then this should probably be the role you target in America. There’s no official list of specialty occupations, but it’s generally a job that requires a bachelor’s degree (or higher) in a certain field and the application of a body of specific knowledge. The E3 is a temporary visa lasting two years, but there’s technically no limit to the number of times you can renew it. What’s more, once you’re in the US with a job you can then apply for permanent residency.
On the other hand, if you don’t feel you’re eligible to apply for the E3 visa, the B1/B2 Visitor Visas and Visa Waiver Program will give you the opportunity to visit America for a short period of time, allowing you to apply for jobs, attend interviews and get a feel for life in the States. Check out our full page about visas for the USA, including more info about specialty occupations.
5. Pick the right place
America is made up of fifty very different states, so choose carefully. People often say that it’s the cities on the East Coast that have the most similarities with Europe and Oceania when it comes to cultural attitudes, but it really depends on how similar you want things to be. It might be wise to narrow down the particular areas you’d like to work in before you start your job search. Looking for vacancies on Indeed.com for the whole of America might take a while. There are lots of resources online when it comes to employment information for each state, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2018, CNBC worked out the ten best cities to find a job in America (weirdly, number one is Chandler in Arizona), while Forbes gave us the best states for making a living (Washington won).
6. Target a shortage occupation
Another way to boost your chances is to focus your job-seeking efforts on an industry where new hires are needed the most. If there’s a shortage of skills in the US and you possess those skills, securing that American job could suddenly get a lot easier. Unlike most western European countries, the USA doesn’t publish an official list of ‘shortage occupations’, but there is regular research into this topic. For example, CareerCast investigated the most in-demand American jobs of 2017, with medical roles occupying over half of the top ten. You can view the complete list here.
Similarly, it’s good to know about the US industries that are hiring the most immigrants, which was recently investigated by CheatSheet. In 2017 they published the top 25 industries for immigrant employment, with a top ten that included computing, healthcare and catering. If you can target an industry that’s experiencing a skills shortage and hires a lot of immigrants then you’re in the business!
7. Be patient
This one sounds obvious but it’s probably the most important. Job-hunting is a slow, lengthy process, and this is especially the case when it comes to applying for work overseas. Once you’ve secured a job in the States, you then have to begin another long wait for a visa, so sit tight. The best thing you can do is make sure your applications and resume are top quality and American-friendly. Get on as many job sites as you can and be sure to take advantage of any unique skills that you have.
If all else fails then you get to stay in Australia, so it’s a win-win situation, really.