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America is the Land of Opportunity. With the biggest economy in the world, it’s no wonder that people from all over would want to try their luck at finding greener pastures here. That said, non-US citizens have a lot of hurdles to overcome before they can find work on American soil, as the labor market remains competitive, and the road to obtaining a work visa can be equal parts difficult, time-consuming, and expensive.
Though there are many shortcuts to getting citizenship and a job in the United States, it is not recommended that you do them, as you could run afoul of the government. That said, there are two things that you should focus on to ease up the process and boost your chances of getting hired in the US.
Qualification or Specialization
A lot rides on the qualification or specialization that you include in your resume so that it becomes more attractive to hiring managers and employers. Every day, there are literally thousands of people who apply for jobs in the US, but many do not get hired, simply because they lack the qualification or specialization that a position requires. As a non-US citizen, the way to increase your chance of getting hired is to either have a level of qualification higher than most US applicants, or you should have the necessary specialization(s) to become the best possible candidate. Work at developing your skills and experience through education, training or service.
When it comes to working visas, the first thing for non-US citizens to know is that there are two kinds: immigrant visa and non-immigrant visa. The former puts you on the path to becoming a US citizen, while the latter grants you approval to work in the US for a limited time, usually up to six years.
Getting an immigrant visa
You generally have three immigrant visa options: EB-2, EB-1, and EB-1C. You may select one based on your work qualifications.
• EB-2 visa – requires that you have an advanced degree or bachelor’s degree with five years’ work experience.
• EB-1 visa – is given to those with extraordinary ability or skill, such as athletes, artists and professionals who have become exceptional in their field.
• EB-1C visa –applies to multinational executives or managers who have been tasked with taking on a high-ranking position in a large business corporation.
Getting a non-immigrant visa
There are five employment-based non-immigrant visas that allow you to work in the US, namely:
• H-1B program – is for companies that have permission to petition foreign workers to do specialized jobs.
• L-1A visa – is for people transferring from a multinational company’s foreign branch.
• O-1 – acts like an EB-1 visa for non-immigrants.
• E-1 – is reserved for investors or treaty traders
• Non-immigrant North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Professional visa – is for pre-approved Canadian and Mexican workers.
Applying for jobs
The Internet is your primary resource for job vacancies in the US, along with information that relates to job application processes. The number of available jobs can be overwhelming, and while it can be tempting to apply for positions where you have a small skillset of the skills required, you’ll be better served by applying for jobs where you fit well. This means that you have to be selective with your job search and narrow your target to those that relate to your skills and expertise.
Once you have a more targeted list, send a formal written application to your potential employer. Even if you have a personal business contact within the company, you still need to go through the formalities of the application process. You may be required to fill out various online forms, especially if you’re applying for a multinational company. Such potential employers usually have their own application processes listed on their websites, so make sure to follow the detailed instructions.
Preparing for the job interview
You only get one shot at an interview, so you have to make it count. The interview preparation that you must do should include researching and learning as much as you can about the company, job position, and recruiter. Rehearse your answers and think about follow up questions that they might have. Keep in mind that the recruiter will use the interview as an opportunity to learn more about you beyond your resume, so answer the questions in a way that expands on your background and skills. Cite specific past experiences in which you were able to put your skills into good use. And make sure to ask questions as well—doing so shows the interviewer that you are focused on the job and want to understand more about it.
Following up on job leads
For your job search success, it’s imperative that you follow-up on all job leads. Call and email all employers that you interviewed with and ask about the status of your application. You can assert yourself in your follow-up, but be careful not to sound too eager or aggressive. Don’t forget to send 'thank you' emails after for all your interviews.
Using job search resources
The road to working in the US can be long and arduous, so don’t go at it alone. Ask help from family and friends that have gone through the process before. Reach out to professional acquaintances. If unsuccessful with these avenues, use a job placement agency if you have to. Some may find the asking fee too expensive, but it can be worth the expenditure if it can smoothen and speed up your application process.
Writing a resume and cover letter for an American company
American companies want resumes from applicants to be clear, concise, and neatly organized, with every bit of information handpicked to be relevant to the position being applied for. Try very hard to limit your resume to just one page—two pages max if you have an extensive job experience. Focus more on information that relates to work, skills, education, and training, and less on personal stuff such as date of birth, nationality, etc. There’s also no need to include a picture.
As for your cover letter, keep it short and sweet. Start with the specific person or department that will be receiving your application. Avoid generic phrases such as “Dear sir/madam” or “To whom it may concern.” By being specific with your application, you show that you put care and research into things that you do—a quality that would be well-appreciated by potential employers.
Resumeble is a resume writing company that focuses on resume development, professional writing, career evaluation, and more. We can help tailor your resume, and other application documents stand out from the sea of US work applicants. Let us help you land job interviews that matter.