Get a Job
The Step by Step Guide to get your job in the USA
5 years ago, I set for myself the challenge of getting professional experience in the USA for one, or, maybe, several years.
After some research, I realized that I couldn't work in the USA without a work visa. To get this work visa, I needed to get a job and so needed to be sponsored for a work visa.
The FIRST thing to do for anyone looking to enter the US is to find a job. Then, you will need to find a sponsored for the visa. Once that is done, you will be good to go and can move to the US.
This guide will tell you how to get a job in the USA that will deliver a visa sponsorship that fits your situation, profile, citizenship desires, and expectations.
So let's see how to get a job in the USA!
Is getting a job in the USA easy? Difficulties you may encounter
Since so many people are looking for a job in the USA, the rules have become more strict regarding who can come in and why.
After my own experience, I have seen hundreds of my followers who faces four major difficulties:
The employer wants to hire you, but tells you that they cannot hire you before you get a visa...
You find your dream job. The employer tells you that they cannot or do not offer any sponsorship...
You are not able to connect with employers! You don't even have any replies from them.
Last but not the least, you have plenty of interviews, but even if you don't make known your visa request, you have not received a reply from your interviewer.
Finding a job in the US is not easy peasy, is it?
In all of those 4 cases above, you are going nowhere! Actually, 90% of failures to get a job in the USA as a foreigner come from 1 mistake. And if you encountered the difficulties above, you might be making this mistake: applying without targeting.
Even before thinking about building your American Resume and applying to jobs opening in the USA, you have to target the right open jobs and companies for you.
But targeting jobs in your field is not enough! Understand that up to 5% of companies in the US may sponsor you for a work visa. It may be even fewer, depending on your situation and profile and job opportunities you can get with it.
So, first let's dive into what you want, and then what you will get depending on your situation, profile and expectations. This is the foundation of your American project.
On this, you will then be able to build your application, target the right companies and approach them effectively.
But before going further, I want to tell you something...
What You Want might not be What You Will Get
You might not want to read what you are going to read. I might offend you or challenge you.
Landing in the USA with a work visa does not mean you will get rich or stay for life.
What we are going to see is the reality of the US market as it is today. You might not like it, and because if your profile and expectation don't match it, it's not going to happen. Sorry to disappoint you.
Maybe it will be easy, and maybe it will be impossible. It all depends on what you want and expect. Just be prepared to adjust your expectations.
If you don't want to accept the reality and adjust your expectations, don't blame me. It's not my choice, but yours. It's your life, not mine. My choice was to live in the USA, and I now live an amazing life there. It's not because I'm lucky; it's because I reviewed my expectations and accepted the reality. That's it.
If you are not ready for such a big step, it's time to seriously think that you may misunderstand what exactly American Dream is. And the United States might finally not be for you. The choice is yours!
The way things are, you need to fit the mold, or you are out.
Sorry to be rude, but you need to understand that before going further. I don't want to waste your time. So if you continue reading this post, I assume that you agree with that. 😀
So now, let me explain how to get a job in the USA!
1. What I Want
First of all, you will need to define your career plan: What do you want to do?!
What kind of job do I want to get?
Some of you have a clear goal, while some of you don't.
If you know what job you want in the US, that's awesome! You already know what to search, and you know exactly what type of job opening you want to apply to. Your career plan is clear for you, and you can skip the rest of this section and go on to "What I Will Get."
If you don't have one yet, please don't tell me you are ready to do anything to be in the US. That is NOT a career plan! I have heard that too much for my taste. I know your goal is to be in the USA and get experience from it. But first, you need a CAREER PLAN!
I was in the same situation when I was looking for a job in the USA. At first, I was open to everything and not only jobs in my field. I applied for jobs in sales, marketing, etc, and I discover that it was going nowhere.
You need to focus on what you love to do, and the skills you have. Where do you see yourself working? What skills do you have? Which ones do you need to reinforce?
How to get a job in the USA with a career change
If you are tired of what you are doing right now, a career change plan may be the thing for you. But you need to figure out the journey you want for yourself to achieve your final goal. Switch to a position that requires your skills or something new you want to learn; this will help you to continue your journey until your final goal.
Keep your goals and motivations for your future and professional path in mind. It should be achievable based on your expertise and abilities.
You might need to focus on setting academic and work-related goals so that you can put your knowledge and abilities to good use. Although volunteering requires time, the commitment can be a fantastic choice when you want to master the skills you haven’t been able to make use of in your workplace.
2. What I Will Get
Now that you know what you want to do, you should check if it fits the US market, and especially for foreigners. Remember, you don't have a work visa yet, so you cannot apply everywhere!!
To know if your profile and expectations fit the U.S. market, you need to find out what visas you may be eligible for, and then find the companies that have a job opening in your field, and that can sponsor you for this kind of visa!
The fact is, at this point, it's vital for you to know what type of visa you are eligible for. Why? Because the target company and the approach with the company will be completely different depending on YOUR ideal visa, YOUR situation and profile, and YOUR career plan you've just defined.
What is my ideal future visa?
Work visas are incredibly complex. It takes into account a lot of your situation and profile (age, citizenship, marital situation, length of stay, the area of activity, industry, years of experience, skills, English level, etc.).
Your ideal visa depends on:
- Citizenship: Your home country may or may not be in treaty with the USA. If it is, you may get a very specific type of visa.
- Graduation: If you have more than five years of experience OR an upper-secondary diploma, it might be easier to get a visa.
- Career: It depends on the company you are currently working for. Some companies may want to transfer you to the US.
- Skills: It also depends on your area of expertise, and your industry! Depending on these, you could get a specific visa.
- Duration: How much time do you want to stay in the US? Some visas are for several months; others are permanent.
To make the process faster and to be sure about which visa fits with the criteria above, just take this Visa Simulator test!
I worked for several months to build and polish this visa algorithm. So let's have a try!
Be as specific as you can, and don't lie in your answer! If you do, it will give you the wrong result. Be as fair as possible! If you're honest, it will deliver the right visa for you. 🙂
If the quiz returns a visa to you, CONGRATULATIONS!!!! You're on the right path! But before claiming victory, be aware it may not necessarily be easy. You might even have to make some concessions. But let's talk about that later in this article.
If the quiz returns no potential visa
Unfortunately, that means that it's quite impossible for you to have an experience in the USA given your current situation and expectation. It means that what you want and what you can offer don't fit the US requirements.
As I told you earlier, if you want it to work, you will need to adjust your career path or expectation according to the reality. If this is the case, I invite you to contact me directly. Then I can have a look at your profile and situation. At a glance, I will be able to give you a status: what effort you need to make, and what expectation you should change to fit the requirement.
If you still have no potential visa because you don't want to change your expectation, as I told you, it's a dead end for you. I cannot help you anymore, and it's useless you keep continuing reading at this post because I have nothing valuable for you. So don't waste your time. I invite you to kindly leave my website and find another way.
Cool beans! Once you know your potential future visa, it's time to discover open jobs that are right FOR YOU! But before that, check that your diploma is recognized in the USA. 😉
Is my diploma recognized in the USA?
Depending on the field you are looking for, you might need to have a degree, diploma, or certificate. In some cases, the diploma from your country can be enough; sometimes it is not. It depends on your field.
For certain trades such as healthcare--doctors, nurses, specialists, etc.--you will need a degree equivalence, or will need another degree.
If you are a nurse, you will have to pass an equivalent exam. If you are a physician, general practitioner or specialist, having equivalence is not enough. You are required to get a valid license for the state in which you want to practice.
If you want to work in a pharmacy in the United States, you also need a diploma equivalence. If you are a lawyer, you will need to apply for a license to practice with the State Bar (US). If you want to become a real estate agent, you also need a license in the state in which you want to practice.
So if you are in one of those following cases above, you must start searching your diploma equivalence before looking for a sponsoring employer.
In all other trades, unless I'm mistaken, the good news is that there is no need for equivalence for your degrees! But you can check it here for more precision.
In our situation, we did not need equivalence, and that is also the case for marketing, communication, sales, IT, HR, finance, hotel/catering, etc.
When preparing your visa application and your diplomas, an official translation into English will be required. But for now, you do not need to worry about that. 😉
So now comes the juicy part of your job search!
Where can I find open jobs?
Keep in mind that 95% of companies in the USA will definitely not offer you a visa sponsorship because as we have seen before, they are quite satisfied with local hiring. So even if you find a great open job in your field, with a perfect match with your profile, it's not going to work at 95% of the time! Try whatever you want, the company won't sponsor you for a visa! Because they can easily find someone like you locally, or because you are not eligible for the visa they can sponsor.
Tell me, why they would mess about visa paperwork, and with a pure stranger from someplace unknown; while they have everything at their place without paperwork complication?
So first: don't waste your time applying for all jobs you will find on the net, even if it's a perfect match with your skills!!!
Max had the same issue when we were looking for a job in the USA. He had interviews at an American company in Denver. But when comes the visa topic; the company declined: no visa sponsorship, that's it.
So why not target only those 5% of companies that are used to hire foreign people and go through the visa request you are eligible for?
Do the math; it's going to save 95% of your time!
So if you were asking how to get a job in the USA: you have now started to get a firm idea of how to do it. What you need to do is to target only:
- Sponsor companies,
- That can sponsor or hire you with the kind of visa YOU are eligible,
- With open jobs in YOUR field,
- Which match 80% or more with YOUR motivation and skills.
Does it make sense for you?
You will find open jobs in your field, into companies that are used to sponsor or hire under your visa by clicking here!
USponsor Me only contains sponsor companies. We spent several months to build this search engine! And you will see that by using it, you can filter on everything you need to find your job in the USA!
Depending on the visa you are eligible, you might also need to filter only companies that sponsor people in your citizenship. If you took the quiz, I sent you an email with your kind of visa, and if you need to also filter on your citizenship or not. 😉
So once you've reached the USponsor Me sponsors search engine, you should filter on:
- Your potential future visa (+ your citizenship if applicable)
- The job title you are targeting (+ industry if applicable)
- And the location you are targeting (if applicable)
And it will return all the best jobs in the right companies for you regarding your visa, location, and what you want to do, only among sponsors' companies! It's actually the best fit between YOU and what the company needs.
If it returns no jobs, or very less
If you don't find any jobs, it can actually depend:
- On your visa, you should in that way, adjust your expectations as I said before in this article and targeted another visa. Reach out to me, and we could talk more about this,
- The position you are looking for doesn't exist in the US. It happens!! In that case, you will need to do some research and define what is the job title the most effective regarding your profile and expectations,
- Or it could merely be something extra you need to do in the app, as it's not yet quite effective, but don't worry I could help you with that for sure, 🙂
- Or there are no open jobs in your field. It seems that your field is not very in demand in the USA. In that case that the USA won't be quite easy for you. But before considering this option, you should be sure first to go through all of those above situations.
If it returns lots of jobs, let's dive into it!
Have a look at them and add in your favorite, only jobs that fit you 80%!
USponsor Me is not yet perfect. Sometimes it's possible that a sponsor company doesn't sponsor for some time, or makes exceptions for specific jobs. You know, even for a sponsor company, they need to have a minimum percentage of their employee be American. So you may see job offers with written "no sponsorship available." If it's the case, just ignore the job offer, and continue your selection on other jobs.
Be careful! Depending on your visa, you might not need that the company sponsors you for a visa, as a third party can sponsor you! If you took the quiz, you should have received an email with your visa result, the advantages and disadvantages of it, and if you need or not to be sponsored by a company.
If you don't need sponsorship from the company, the mention "no sponsorship" doesn't apply to you. 😉
In contrary, if it's explicitly mentioned that the company doesn't take under your kind of visa, don't waste your time for applying, it's not for you. So ignore it!
We are working hard to exclude all jobs that are not subject to sponsorship, and enrich our database with jobs with sponsorship guaranteed.
If it returns lots of jobs, but actually not in your field...
If it returns results, but not compliant with what you are looking for, please email me, and I will be more than happy to help! USponsor Me is not yet perfect. I know sometimes it can be hard to use it. We are working hard to release sooner, a new version where it would be much easier for you to find your job! It's the plan by the end of this year. If you are subscribed to the newsletter, you will be notified once the new USponsor Me version will go live. 😉
Targeting is the foundation stone for finding your job in the USA. However, it's the first step of a long quest! What you now will need to focus on is your resume and cover letter! Here, you have several American-style templates you can use.
3. Get In Touch with employers!
Now, you need to think about your approach strategy! The art of contacting an employer when you are looking for work can be tricky. But it's not anymore if you know exactly how you can proceed, and when.
As a reminder, before continuing your search to find a job in the USA, you need to:
- Have a firm idea of what job you are looking for
- Know the kind of visa you are qualified
- Be sure your diploma is enough to practice your job in the USA
- Target only companies that are used to sponsor for the kind of visa you are qualified
- Have a strong resume, cover letter, online presence and plenty of recommendations
So once you have everything to start your job search actively, here are the 4 strategies you should use:
- Job Applying – when you apply to online open jobs
- Spontaneous Application – when you send your application to the company with no current open job
- Through Your Network – when you are recommended by someone you know
- Direct Approach – when you directly contact the right internal people without knowing them
So now, let's dive to these four job search strategies, and which one you should use. It’s time for you to step out of your shell and get in touch with employers!
That is the strategy you know the best, and you use the most. However, it can be a huge waste of time if you don't use it well.
The biggest mistake you can do is to apply for all job openings you see, and everywhere. However, I remind you that you are a foreigner, and you need a visa! And only 1 on 16 companies in the United States hire and sponsor their employees for a visa. Additionally, sponsor companies cannot technically sponsor for all kinds of visa, and on the other hand, you cannot be sponsored for all existing types of visa neither.
So It's like looking for a needle in a haystack!
Then, applying to open jobs posted on general job boards means that you are in competition with others, especially with locals, who have them, a work authorization.
Finally, even for Americans, it's hard to get a job by applying online. Every year, more than 100 million people are looking for a job in the USA. Only 20% of jobs are posted online, and 75% of candidates apply online: exactly like you do! It means that for each job ad, the company will receive an average of 250 applications. That's why the ATS (Applicant Tracking System) exists! During your application submission, you will be asked very often: "do you need a visa sponsorship now or in the future?", and/or: "do you have a work authorization?". If you genuinely answer, you will be blocked by the ATS automatically. So you applied for... nothing!
So really, what is your chance here?
You can actually avoid that mistake, and job applying can be a great strategy if you do it correctly.
Let's take the example of Max.
Max found his job in New York City by applying online directly to the company website. But before doing it, he saw this job ad on the website "Pôle Emploi International," the French international job center website.
So it means that the company was looking for a French guy to transfer to its subsidiary in New York City. In that case, Max was not in competition with Locals. So it didn't ask him if he needs a work authorization. Secondly, this company was a sponsor, and able to sponsor him the right visa he was eligible for. And finally, this job matched more than 80% of his profile. So guess what? He got the job.
I know you won't find much job ads on job center websites for international positions. I didn't find something for myself. But you have another website that contains open jobs with visa sponsorship guaranteed according to the visa you are eligible and your citizenship if applicable. The website, you know it, it's called USponsor Me. 🙂
We now display job openings with visa sponsorship guaranteed. But be careful! Again it should match with the visa you are qualified for! Please run the Visa Simulator before going ahead.
On USponsor Me, you have 2 kinds of job openings:
- Job ads from companies that are used to sponsor for the visa. However, you are competing with local candidates.
- Job ads from companies that especially look for a foreigner to fill the position with the one you will get a visa sponsorship. It means you are not in competition with local candidates.
Does it make sense?
To switch and see those 2 kinds of job ads, use the toggle "Visa Guaranteed" in the search fields. If the toggle is on, it means you see the jobs especially for foreigners with Visa Sponsorship Guaranteed. If it's off, you will see all jobs, even the job openings you are in competitions with local candidates.
And guess what?
Your job search strategy will be different depending on if you find a job ad with visa sponsorship guaranteed or not.
For jobs you are not compelling with Locals, go ahead and apply to the job! For jobs you are compelling with Locals, if it's a medium-sized or big company, it's a complete waste of time to apply online. In that case, I strongly recommend you to use the Direct Approach strategy, that we will see later in this article. Small companies don't use any ATS. So you can still have your chance with them by applying online, but you also need to contact the recruiter directly by email or by LinkedIn, letting them know your extra motivation and why you are the right person for the position!
Warning! If you get a positive response, before even your first exchange with this person, make sure you get your visa pitch ready. You should correctly react once you speak about it with the company. Don't let your chance flies away!
Before you apply, scope out the company, its need, and see what you can learn!
Avoid all those mistakes you make when you apply. It's VERY important!
Also, you know that you need to adjust your resume and cover letter for each job you apply. I speak about it here.
If you really want the job, but you feel it's hard for you identifying transferable skills and matching those to the organization and the role, the "let's apply and see" won't work for you, even if you are not in competition with locals. In that case, I strongly recommend you to also directly contact the recruiter of the company to express your motivation for the job OR better, use the direct approach strategy we will talk a little bit later.
If you don't find any open jobs for you with Visa Guaranteed, don't panic! You have 3 other job search strategies you can use. 🙂
I will detail the second one which is a spontaneous application and the way you can use it efficiently.
Keep in mind, 80% open jobs in the USA are never posted on job boards. In parallel of applying to open jobs with Visa Guaranteed, I recommend you to send smart, spontaneous applications. The advantage is that you have no direct competitors at all!
I found my job in New York City through a spontaneous application but in a smart way.
I first sent hundreds of spontaneous applications to companies related to my field; with a quick cover letter and my resume. It didn't work at all: one response, and it was negative!
I then found another way. I noticed that every week, I got contact requests through LinkedIn and Viadeo (a French professional network like LinkedIn) from recruiters. If they wanted to connect with me, it meant my profile was interesting for them.
Then, I did some research and noticed that some of those contact's companies were also based in the USA. So I gave it a try. I just sent quick messages to them with no resume, no cover letter in an attachment. I got the answer from one of those, and I got the job in New York City!
Guess what? This company was a sponsor company that was used to sponsor the kind of visa I was eligible for.
To not waste your time, I recommend you only to send smart, spontaneous applications as I've done.
To do so efficiently:
- You need to have a strong LinkedIn profile (and profile in your professional social media the most used in your country) to attract recruiters.
- You will have to accept connection requests from recruiters.
- Once you are ready with that, retrieve all recruiters you have in your contacts that you don't know, and research their company on USponsor Me, company side, by taping their company name. If the company is displaying on USponsor Me, it means it's based in the USA, and it also offers sponsorship!! Now you need to filter on the visa you are eligible for and see if it's still here.
If it is... as it was for me, you are on the right track! You can contact this person and ask him if he has an opportunity for you in the USA. 😉
If you get a positive response, before even your first exchange with this person, make sure you got everything you should know on the visa you can be sponsored. You should correctly react once you speak about it with the company, and don't let your change flies away!
If you do not find any recruiter's companies in USponsor Me with the kind of visa you are eligible for, just keep your LinkedIn profile updated, improve it to attract more recruiters. And once you get a connection request, do your research and go ahead!
Otherwise, don't waste your time with the spontaneous application. Better use your time with another job search strategy that will work best for you.
Let's see now the next job search strategy you may know: networking
Through Your Network
I will go over the importance of networking in the U.S. and how to take advantage of your own network.
Even if you think you don't have any network in the USA currently, please read the post how to use your network. It happens a lot with my clients when I say "network." Each time, all of them tell me they don't have any in the USA. Each time we go through the exercise even and some of them got great opportunities with this strategy. Even Max had a nice opportunity in Denver, even without knowing someone based in the USA at the beginning.
So don't skip this step!
Networking starts with a mindset and an intention to discover, explore, and be open to what you may encounter. It’s about helping others and helping yourself.
Furthermore, is not about trying to reach as many people whom you don't know, even if they are in your contacts. This is almost as ineffective as applying directly to a job posting that doesn't fit you. Networking is about meeting people you do know who can both vouch for your past performance, and will recommend you to others. So it’s not only the people who know you personally, but it’s also who the people you know can refer you to what matters. They might even be able to help you secure an interview for an open job in the USA for foreigners.
Without a doubt, one of the most effective, and most underutilized, methods of obtaining employment is through personal networking. The network is a critical factor, especially in the American culture.
Go to the end, and you will be sure you did the best from you with this strategy. If you don't grab any contacts in the USA like this, let's continue with the next job search strategy: direct approach.
The last but not the least! This is typically the strategy that you know the less. But the one, in fact, is much wider than the network, and almost as powerful than the networking strategy.
Let me explain you:
Network is the best strategy to approach internal contacts from someone who recommended and introduced you.
Direct Approach is actually using the same fact: directly contacting internal contacts. However, at that time you won't know the person before contacting him.
Finding and contacting contacts inside your target industry and companies is an excellent strategy. They can actually provide you with inside information on available jobs at a company. Indeed, they can give you precise information on the hiring process and what it’s like to work at the company.
However, to do it efficiently, you won't contact everybody, everywhere.
Do you remember we talked about job ads from companies that are used to sponsor for the visa on USponsor Me, earlier in this article? The open job that you are in competition with local candidates.
So here we are! Here in this strategy, it's exactly what you need to target!
Likewise, you will be able to consult open jobs so, you can choose the right company that matches 80% of your profile, and filter and see in priority companies with a good Visa Chance rate regarding your profile depending on your visa strategy.
The more targeted you are in your search, in fact, the more you can concentrate on the opportunities in the field of your choice, and the more effective you will to find a job.
This will make so much easier your goals on how to get a job in the USA!
In that case, you won't apply online. Actually what you are going to do, is to target relevant internal contacts to this company, contact them, and establish a relationship with your new contacts by getting him on the phone.
Your goal is to know what are the biggest challenges of the company in your field, and by demonstrating you can help, be introduced to the HR for going further in the recruitment process.
It's like taking the back door, a shortcut actually. 😉 I'm going to write a dedicated article on this approach very soon!
In the meantime, check out the following helpful resources: