How to find a job when planning your move to the US

How to find a job in the US

Be ready to enter the job market even before you arrive to the States.

You have many resources when looking for employment in the US. Before you apply, you’ll need to get the proper paperwork together and do your research on the industry and even specific companies that you’re interested in.

Once you get hired, be ready for hard work, long hours and a rigorous schedule. Americans often put in more than 40 hours a week. As for vacation time, many companies start with two weeks of paid vacation, increasing time off after you put in a number of years.

Depending on where you move, the working environment will differ — the East Coast tends to lean more formal, while the West Coast is perceived as more relaxed.

Wherever you decide to move, you’ll need to determine which US visa you’ll need.

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The job market

The US swarms with service jobs that range from restaurants and grocery stores to department stores and other retail outlets. If you have qualifications in specialty fields like health care, finance, education or law enforcement, research whether you need to transfer your qualifications or certifications to US equivalents.

Experienced applicants in the medical profession are in high demand, including nurses, elder care professionals, medical assistants and technicians. The technology sector is also booming, especially in Northern California, Seattle and Austin.

Getting started

Before you begin applying for jobs, you’ll need to get your paperwork in order. Here’s what you’ll need.

Immigrant visa

Visas are legal documents that allow those from another country to enter the US for a stated period of time and specific purpose.

With an overwhelming 150 different visas offered under US immigration law, it can feel like there’s a visa for any reason you can imagine. But these visas fall under two main categories: nonimmigrant visas for temporary visits and immigrant visas for people ultimately intending to immigrate indefinitely.

Resume

Your prior experiences and successes count when you’re trying to sell yourself to a potential employer. A concise and informative resume paints a picture of who you are.

You’ll find resume templates online to most any field, position or style you’re looking for. In general, your resume should include:

  • Your name, physical address, email and phone number.
  • Your work experience, working back from your most recent position.
  • Your education history and completed degrees.
  • Any languages you speak.
  • Special skills or certification.

Cover letter

To gain a competitive edge, spend time writing a cover letter to introduce yourself to a prospective employer. Include the specific job you’re applying for, your qualifications and why you’re best for the job. A cover letter should be no longer than a page or two.

It’s important that you write your resume and cover letter carefully, minding correct spelling and grammar. Have someone read them over for clarity, grammar and content.

Job search

Gone are the days of reading through the classified section of your local newspaper. The Internet is rife with job matching websites that can help you narrow down your options to positions you’re qualified for and interested in.

A few of the more popular job search sites include:

  • CareerJet
  • Indeed
  • Monster
  • Simply Hired
  • CareerBuilder
  • USA Jobs
  • Craigslist
  • Dice
  • Randstad USA

The interview

When you’re contacted for an interview by a potential employer, you’ll need to prepare.

An interview is a chance to sell yourself to the company. Review the tips below to ensure that you rise to the top of a hiring manager’s list.

Research the company

Don’t just read a company’s job description. Rather, study its website and anything else written about the company. Look through company brochures to get an idea of the skills it values in an employee. Gathering facts will help you answer — and ask — potential interview questions.

Sell yourself

Prepare yourself to highlight and market such soft skills as strengths, work ethics, leadership skills and your willingness to learn. Hard skills like computers and specific job requirements are important, but you’ll typically receive training after you’re hired.
Don’t let the interviewer be the only one to ask questions. Have some of your own ready. Asking about the company’s website, its challenges or how it measures performance shows that you’ve done your homework and are ready to invest your skills and hard work.

Be professional

First impressions are important. You can show a potential employer that you took the time to prepare in a few easy ways:

  • Arrive 10 to 15 minutes before your interview time.
  • Dress professionally in clean and ironed clothes.
  • Turn off your cell phone.
  • Maintain positive body language by smiling, shaking hands and making eye contact when talking about yourself.

Follow up with a note of thanks

After you’ve interviewed for the job, email a quick note to the interview team, thanking them for taking the time to meet with you. This is an opportunity to remind them that you’re not only interested in the job but also a good fit for the team. A good impression lets a company know that you’re serious about working for them.

Common questions about employment in the US

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