Getting a job in the USA

The primary advice for those wanting to work in the US is Don't Blow It. Immigrant workers, legal and illegal, are a hot issue in the US at the moment, none of the problems have been resolved, and feelings are running high in some places.

So we're doing a strictly by the book approach to getting a job in the USA.

Don't even think about illegal immigration, period.

As in our other articles, job seekers are strongly advised to make sure they understand every step of the process.

If there's anything at all you don't understand, find out.

The best source for first hand information regarding employment is the US Department of Immigration.

Visas

There are five basic classes of work visa: B1, H1B, L1, E1, and E2

B class visas are for business visit trips, etc, and there are a series of specific purposes of visit. Generally they're for short term visits or a specific period of time like a research project.

H1B visas are non-immigration visas. They allow an employee to work in the US for up to six years.

The E class visas are for citizens of countries covered by immigration treaties.

Green Cards

Green cards are intended to allow quick access to people where it's not possible to apply for lawful residence.

Prior to obtaining Green Card, employers must successfully show the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) of the US Department of Labor that there are not sufficient United States workers available at the time of application for a visa. ETA will then grant a Labor Certification.

Note: Labor Certification is not an entitlement to work in the US.

Subject to any other requirements of ETA, the Green Card will then be issued

Exemptions from the requirement for Labor Certification are given to people who fit specific skills requirements.

These exemptions are granted only when supporting documentation of their skills is provided with their Green Card application.

Job searching in the USA

The US is the biggest, most diverse employment market on Earth. It's also one of the most competitive. Job search sources are everywhere in the media, but mainly online.

Job search sites are sometimes huge, like Monster.com, and the best approach in many cases is to start with a location, rather than a job description.

It's quite possible to waste a lot of time if you don't know how to use a search engine on a job site, so here are a few pointers:

Don't just use one search engine. Use a national search engine like Monster.com, but also try and use a local search.
Bookmark useful search sites, and create a folder for them.
Learn how to exclude certain words with can clutter up your search results. Like, if you search writer and then get endless technical writer jobs, search writer not technical.

Job applications

We weren't kidding about the US being competitive. Applications must be of a high standard.

You're very strongly recommended to make contact with the employer and be sure of the information you're required to provide.

Formats matter, and it's also a very good idea, for your own peace of mind, to make sure that spelling, grammar and layout are all good.

(US employers get a literal deluge of applications, and they really don't have to look at anything badly organized, or that looks like the applicant isn't trying. Quite apart from which they are actually busy, and substandard applications are wasting their time.)

Your skills are your greatest asset, and your professional know-how should tell you what's relevant in a job application. Stick to relevance, because more isn't better. If they want to know more, they'll ask.

Just prove on your application and covering letter that you're a legitimate candidate for the job.

Interviews

America is the leading light of the job interview. Most of the interview techniques were derived there, and they use screening tests the way most people eat cornflakes. Don't be surprised if you're asked to multiple interviews.

So:

  • Do your homework
  • Don't get put off by psychometric testing
  • Be patient, stick to your game plan
  • Remember your training
  • Remember your information; rehearse if necessary, but make sure it comes with you to the interviews
  • Listen to the questions, answer what's asked
  • Don't try and second guess the interviewer; stick to the question
  • Don't go off topic
  • Panic after the interview, not during it

Post interview

Immediately after the interview, you'll be asked if you have any questions. Ask them. Think about what you'd like to know, as well as what you need to know.

You can send a thank you letter, as an added bit of input, as per our Thank You Letter page.

Living in America- Some major issues

America is a very big place, and it's a very different place. The society is different, the social structures are different.

There are always local situations and issues. Some are extremely sensitive, and most are topics foreigners would be strongly advised to avoid, until they know what they're talking about.

Foreigners are advised to:

  1. Learn to find their way around efficiently and safely.
  2. Learn the language. American English is pretty variable, and some expressions won't make sense.
  3. America can be a dangerous place, and you'll find that friendly Americans will tell you who, where and what to steer clear of, and why, directly. Do that. They're not kidding.
  4. Always keep track of your money. Costs are tricky, and you need to work out a realistic budget for yourself. Try and have some spare cash available.
  5. Don't get involved in any hot issues. You're still a foreigner, not a local, and there are some real no-go zones, even in conversation. If you must say anything, say what happens in your own country, or former country.

The workplace environment

Dare we say Yes, we dare, that our Forum is a good ongoing current snapshot of some of the typical situations which occur in the American workplace. There are plenty of Americans on our site. They can tell anyone, with the benefit of a lot of experience, what they think, and what they advise, about the ever-changing state of the American workplace.

It's like a language course, if you don't know the place and the culture. The thinking is different to most of the rest of the world. As a good cultural insight, we can truthfully say it's a very good place to start.

The good side to working in America

The benefits of working in America can be enormous. Most of the world's top professionals have a good working relationship with America, and work there on a regular basis.

Pay, quality of life, professional contacts, workplace conditions, you name it, the US can and does deliver the best, if you can get there.

Don't underestimate the toughness.

Don't lose sight of the rewards, either.

For naturally talented and/or competitive people, America is probably the best place in the world to try to succeed. The nation recognizes success, and applauds it, on its merits.

America's saving grace, in the employment field, is that it actively goes looking for talent. The words talent scout and head hunting were invented in America, and it reflects a built in drive for new ideas and new products.

Useful skills will be noticed, not resented.

If you want a real mountain to climb, try America.