Finding work

How to look for a job in the U.S.

There are lots of places to look for jobs in America and many can be contacted before you arrive. To get you started, we have gathered some of the more effective tips and resources.

Finding work

Sponsorship

To be able to work in the U.S., you will need a company to sponsor you. A very small fraction of American companies are willing to do so, which can make the task of finding a job a discouraging one. We recommend you to focus on companies that do hire foreigners on a regular basis. Job applicants need to be aware that candidates who do not fit in the market have little chance of getting a job offer.

Good news is, the amount of resources available to find a job in the States nowadays is immense. If you have a clear career plan and do a proper targeting, you will be closer to achieving your final goal.

Targeting

Before starting your search, understand your own profile as much as possible. Knowing your strengths and the positions you are better suited for will help you select the resources you want to use to find a job. Employers receive hundreds of applications, so it is essential to target only those companies with a specific interest in your profile.

These are some preliminary questions you should ask yourself:

  • Are you a highly qualified employee or do you have a more general profile?
  • What languages can you speak fluently?
  • What are your main soft skills? (do not overlook this aspect, employers care a lot about people/social skills)
  • What digital skills do you have?
  • Is your diploma/education recognized in the U.S.?

Where to look for a job?

Job search sites

The websites listed here are among the most popular places to search for jobs in the United States. Because of their popularity, the response rate may be lower than when contacting companies directly. However, they include a considerable volume of job opportunities.

Websites for expats: these sites offer positions targeting an expat audience, which makes them a good fit if you do not have a valid working visa. Some good ones are Expatjobseeker  and Xpatjobs.com . Consider using LinkedIn groups covering your area of expertise and checking the expatriate in the US job section .

Glassdoor : this site allows you to check out companies before applying. You can find out first-hand info about the average salaries, rating and benefits of each company from its former employees.

Indeed : one of the biggest job portals in the world. It offers entry, mid and senior level positions across the U.S.

Private recruiting agencies and headhunters

Private job agencies play an important role in the American labor market. These are ideal if you are looking for highly qualified jobs and senior positions (70% of top-level executives are hired through headhunters). Some agencies request a fee from job applicants. In general, we do not recommend you to pay for any services as good recruitment agencies will usually be paid by the employer. You can check some of the best recruiting firms here .   

Employment agencies

Agencies make their money by contracting or hiring workers and ‘renting’ them out to employers, mostly on a temporary basis. The employment agency usually takes around 10 to 20 percent of your salary as a margin. We do not recommend that you pay any upfront fees in this situation:  most reliable employment agencies are usually employer-paid and do not charge any fees to candidates.

Speculative applications

If you are interested in working for a specific company then you can send a speculative application. Some sectors do not advertise positions very frequently, so approaching the employer can bring you closer to an opportunity. This is quite common in the United States of America and worth trying. The personnel departments file these applications, and if a position becomes available, they check these applications before advertising the position. Before contacting a company, learn how to write effective speculative applications and think about how to make employers consider your profile.The more tailored your application is, the more chances you will have of getting a reply.

Chambers of Commerce

You can also contact the international chamber of commerce of your home country in the U.S. Chambers of commerce often get requests from companies trying to fill a position with someone from their country, and some of them also have a database or “job bank” of current vacancies. Many chambers of commerce also have a list of companies from your home country with business links in America. Since these offices often need expatriates in the U.S., it can be worthwhile sending them a speculative application!

Summer Work Travel

College and university students can apply for a Summer Work Travel Program. It allows students from many countries to travel and work in the US for a limited amount of time and share their culture and ideas. Participants must get a J1 visa and show they have to return to their home countries for academic or professional reasons after their stay. If you are under 30, this may be your chance to experience the American way and travel around the country for a couple of months.

Is finding a job in the U.S. easy?

It is fair to say it is not as easy as apple pie. Some applicants spend months in their job search and many of them are unsuccessful. That’s why it is so important to be persistent and use every opportunity for networking.

Keep on trying, target, know your sector. If you are lucky,  you may find yourself enjoying a sandwich on the 22nd story of an American office before you know it.

Sponsorship

To be able to work in the U.S., you will need a company to sponsor you. A very small fraction of American companies are willing to do so, which can make the task of finding a job a discouraging one. We recommend you to focus on companies that do hire foreigners on a regular basis. Job applicants need to be aware that candidates who do not fit in the market have little chance of getting a job offer.

Good news is, the amount of resources available to find a job in the States nowadays is immense. If you have a clear career plan and do a proper targeting, you will be closer to achieving your final goal.

Targeting

Before starting your search, understand your own profile as much as possible. Knowing your strengths and the positions you are better suited for will help you select the resources you want to use to find a job. Employers receive hundreds of applications, so it is essential to target only those companies with a specific interest in your profile.

These are some preliminary questions you should ask yourself:

  • Are you a highly qualified employee or do you have a more general profile?
  • What languages can you speak fluently?
  • What are your main soft skills? (do not overlook this aspect, employers care a lot about people/social skills)
  • What digital skills do you have?
  • Is your diploma/education recognized in the U.S.?

Where to look for a job?

Job search sites

The websites listed here are among the most popular places to search for jobs in the United States. Because of their popularity, the response rate may be lower than when contacting companies directly. However, they include a considerable volume of job opportunities.

Websites for expats: these sites offer positions targeting an expat audience, which makes them a good fit if you do not have a valid working visa. Some good ones are Expatjobseeker  and Xpatjobs.com . Consider using LinkedIn groups covering your area of expertise and checking the expatriate in the US job section .

Glassdoor : this site allows you to check out companies before applying. You can find out first-hand info about the average salaries, rating and benefits of each company from its former employees.

Indeed : one of the biggest job portals in the world. It offers entry, mid and senior level positions across the U.S.

Private recruiting agencies and headhunters

Private job agencies play an important role in the American labor market. These are ideal if you are looking for highly qualified jobs and senior positions (70% of top-level executives are hired through headhunters). Some agencies request a fee from job applicants. In general, we do not recommend you to pay for any services as good recruitment agencies will usually be paid by the employer. You can check some of the best recruiting firms here .   

Employment agencies

Agencies make their money by contracting or hiring workers and ‘renting’ them out to employers, mostly on a temporary basis. The employment agency usually takes around 10 to 20 percent of your salary as a margin. We do not recommend that you pay any upfront fees in this situation:  most reliable employment agencies are usually employer-paid and do not charge any fees to candidates.

Speculative applications

If you are interested in working for a specific company then you can send a speculative application. Some sectors do not advertise positions very frequently, so approaching the employer can bring you closer to an opportunity. This is quite common in the United States of America and worth trying. The personnel departments file these applications, and if a position becomes available, they check these applications before advertising the position. Before contacting a company, learn how to write effective speculative applications and think about how to make employers consider your profile.The more tailored your application is, the more chances you will have of getting a reply.

Chambers of Commerce

You can also contact the international chamber of commerce of your home country in the U.S. Chambers of commerce often get requests from companies trying to fill a position with someone from their country, and some of them also have a database or “job bank” of current vacancies. Many chambers of commerce also have a list of companies from your home country with business links in America. Since these offices often need expatriates in the U.S., it can be worthwhile sending them a speculative application!

Summer Work Travel

College and university students can apply for a Summer Work Travel Program. It allows students from many countries to travel and work in the US for a limited amount of time and share their culture and ideas. Participants must get a J1 visa and show they have to return to their home countries for academic or professional reasons after their stay. If you are under 30, this may be your chance to experience the American way and travel around the country for a couple of months.

Is finding a job in the U.S. easy?

It is fair to say it is not as easy as apple pie. Some applicants spend months in their job search and many of them are unsuccessful. That’s why it is so important to be persistent and use every opportunity for networking.

Keep on trying, target, know your sector. If you are lucky,  you may find yourself enjoying a sandwich on the 22nd story of an American office before you know it.

Further reading

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