Use Your Network (part 1): One of the 4 strategies to find a Job

Comment consolider son réseau professionnel aux USA ?

Once you have your American resume in hand, you are ready to dive into your job search to live in the US.

There are 4 strategies for finding a job in the United States: apply for job openings, send unsolicited applications, use your network, and use the direct approach strategy.

In this article, we will see in detail the third strategy; “activate your network.” Whether you already have a good network established in the United States or not at all (as you may think today, but this article might change your mind). I will share with you some tricks to activate your network the right way in order to obtain the job of your dreams.

If you have never had any work experience in the U.S., you might think at first that you have no contact in this new country. Before making hasty conclusions, read this article to the end, apply my tips and build your chart. Only at the end, you will be able to conclude whether or not you really have no network in the USA. Share with us in the comments your experience and if you’ve found contacts in the U.S. or not! 🙂

Networking: does this strategy work in the United States?

When we know that a significant number of open jobs (80%, according to the Wall Street Journal) are never published, we can conclude that the network is vital in the U.S. Believe me, I lived there for almost 5 years so far, and I confirm that networking is essential here.

Americans will always prefer a person who has been recommended, even internally! For example, when Max was not available to do a project at his job, his American colleagues, instead of referring to their hierarchical manager (who is not necessarily present in the structure of the company) asked Max if he knew anyone inside the company to replace him.

Well, it’s the same with recruitment. The hiring manager (the person who needs a specific resource in his team) will always start by searching in his contacts before sharing it with human resources. We are starting to know how things work in our dear host country. 🙂

Making a good first impression: an essential strategy in the U.S.

So you’ll understand, that activating your network can greatly increase your chances of landing the job you are targeting.

I had many of my followers who got interviews, and even found their job through their network. Max has also landed his first job interview in the USA, in Denver, because he has been recommended by his former boss.

Use your current contacts

Activate your network; start by using the contacts you already have. You know some people around you, right? It could be your family, classmates, ex classmates, teachers, ex teachers, managers, ex managers, colleagues, ex colleagues, clients, ex clients, suppliers, ex suppliers, partners, ex partners, and also, the people you met at events, on the street, etc.

Among them, you will certainly find profiles involved in your field of activity and/or in the United States.

Where to find your current contacts?

Your current contacts, you have them in your personal and professional mailbox and your phone. But also on your social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter, etc.

Your first mission is to list the platforms where you can have your contacts saved, and group all your contacts in one place.

Be careful with social media platforms, especially with LinkedIn! When I say “your network”, I think about the people you know. On LinkedIn (or other social media plateforms), it’s possible that you are in contact with people you’ve never had an exchange with. I know by experience that using the network strategy with them doesn’t work at all.

However, certains of your “ghost” LinkedIn contacts will be useful for you, not with this strategy I’m teaching you, but with the 3 others: apply for job openings, send spontaneous applications, and use the direct approach strategy. In that case, your approach will be completely different. We will see it in another post.

If you have a few contacts

I think the best strategy is to group your contacts in an Excel sheet. Indicate the first and last name of the person, his company, the size of the company, the title of his position, his location, the language you can communicate with him, your affinity with him (if you are close, or on the contrary, if you don’t know this person so much), and the platform/channel on which you are in contact with this person.

It should look like this:

Create a new network in the USA.

If you have plenty of contacts

I advise you in this case to use FullContact. This application allows you to group all your contacts easily and quickly by connecting the different accounts on which you have an address book (LinkedIn, Gmail, etc.). You can even submit your address book in CSV (data that you can export from your different tools).

For each person, you will know the platform/channel you are in contact with. The tool will also automatically enhance your contacts from Internet with more info regarding their job titles, locations, companies, the size of their company, their websites if any, and the link to their social media profiles.

Then, you will have to use tags, by tagging the language you can use to communicate, your affinity, etc.

Again, either you use FullContact or an Excel sheet, take only into account your real contacts; the people you had an exchange with at least once, either physically, on the phone, or by email.

Once you have completed this step, all you have to do is enjoy this new playground …

Which contacts can really help you?

To activate your network, you must then define the profile of the people who can help you in your job search.

The Human Resources and Recruiters (HR)

The first profile that can help you in your job search is Human Resources Specialists or Recruiters. Find all the people in your real contacts who are HR or recruiters, based in the U.S. or not.

If you use Excel, then add “HR” (Human Resources) in the column “HM / LH / HR”. If you use FullContact, add the “HR” tag to your relevant contacts.

The Hiring Manager (HM)

The second profile of people who can help you in landing your dream job is the Hiring Manager, the one who needs you in the business.

Basically, ask yourself: What is the profile of my future manager? Who is the person who specifically needs me on his team? What is the job title of this person?

This will usually vary depending on the size of the business. In a large company, look for the department director, or the team manager. In a small company, it will likely be more; the CEO, or a C level person.

The Little Helper (LH)

The third interesting profile is the Little Helper. This is the person who will work with you, the one who will have the same position as you and at the same hierarchical level. Basically, it’s your future colleague.

The Little Helper is very important. Even if it is not him or her who will have a say in your recruitment, he or she can recommend you to his Manager.


Your third mission in order to activate your network is to define what are the job titles of these last 2 types of people, Little Helper and Hiring Manager. Remember, this can change, whether applied to a large or small company. Write down all the job titles in English and also in your language if different.

Once you got them, find all the people in your real contacts who have those job titles. If you use Excel, then add “HM” (Hiring Manager) or “LH” (Little Helper) in the column “HM / LH / HR”. If you use FullContact, add the “HM” or “LH” tag to your relevant contacts.

If you have not identified any LH, HR, or HM in your contacts, skip to the “What to do with other contacts” section of this article.

Refine your search with Contact Based, and Company Based

Search among your HR, HM and LH contacts:

  • people based in the USA (Contact Based),
  • OR people’s companies with a U.S.-based structure (Company Based).

And add it to your Excel spreadsheet, or tag it in the FullContact app.

It should look like this in your table:

Find a job in the US and activate your network

You will get in touch with those people in priority!

If you haven’t identified “Contact Based” or “Company Based” people among your LH, HR ou HM contacts, skip to the “What to do with other contacts” section of this article.

How to get in touch?

Once you have identified these people who can help you in your project, get in touch with them!

The stronger the connection you have with your contact, the easier it would be for you to get in touch with him.

The goal is to start by contacting those HR, HM and LH Contact Based and Company Based you selected, with whom you have the most affinity, by doing so in your message:

  • Give them some news.
  • Ask them what’s new.
  • Introduce your project, that you plan to work in the United States.
  • Ask them if they have any opportunities for you in the USA.
  • If not, ask them if they know people based in the USA who can help you.

Follow your intuition! If you feel it’s better to catch up on each others’ news before asking about opportunities, you can definitely write a first message to get news, and once your contact response to you, go ahead with your request! It really depends how long you haven’t got in touch with your contact, and how close you are with him.

What to do with the other contacts?

How to create your professionnal network in the US ?

Even if your direct contact is not someone who can help you, he can potentially know someone who can.

It was the case for many of my members, and also for Max.

Even if he didn’t have any HR, HM and LH based in the USA, or who worked in a company based in the USA, he has been recommended by his former boss (where he did his internship) to a partner he had in the USA. And he landed his first job interview in a company based in Denver.

So this time, you will try to reach your contact’s contacts, the second level contacts. But before, did you think about this?

Is your current company also based in the United States?

You will see that you will naturally delete some of your contacts from your list. Simply because you do not want to share your project with them.

But if you feel like doing so, and if you get along with your current employer, share your project with him. If you have good relations with your managers, and they can listen and support you as needed, the line manager or human resources manager in your company can be strategic allies. You can bring the subject during your annual interview, or request an appointment if your expatriation project is more urgent.

It is even more effective if your company has already a foot in the USA. In this case, you can even attempt a transfer request.

If this is not your case, your employer may have contacts in the United States with partners, customers or suppliers with whom he works or has worked. They can also be very helpful to you.

One of my former clients found his job in the US hotel industry like this: thanks to his boss who had recommended him to one of his partners in the United States.

Connect with your contacts

Again, connecting with one of your contacts is easier if he is close to you, or happy with your work. But you can also fall on a Booster in your contacts, someone that, even if you do not know him or her very well, will be ready to help you.

The message template will be substantially the same:

  • Give them some news.
  • Ask them what’s new.
  • Introduce your project.
  • Ask him if he knows anyone who could help you.

It is this strategy that Max used to get his first interview in the USA. 🙂

Again, 1 or 2 messages, it’s up to you.

It’s just as simple if your contacts are on LinkedIn. Because you can see their contacts, and find HR, HM, or LH who could help you. But before expressly asking your contact an introduction to this person, ask him first if he knows this contact! Because if not, it’s a dead end, just stick to the initial plan. 😉

Enable second level contacts

In return, your interlocutor can either give you his contact directly. Or he can introduce you to him (which is the best solution).

If he gives you his contact, ask him if he could possibly introduce you. If he refuses, ask him if you can give his name as a referral when contacting his contact.

The risk of this strategy and how to avoid it

Even if this strategy is much better than the first one (aka “postulate and wait” strategy) that you had in mind (don’t deny it), it has its risk.

As a reminder, it is not possible for you to get a job in the United States if you do not have a structure (your company or an organization) that sponsors you for a work visa. The visa and the job go hand in hand! However, you are not eligible for all types of visas that exist in the U.S., and not all companies are eligible to sponsor or take someone under a work visa.

As Max with his first interview, the company may say that it cannot to sponsor you for a work visa …

Something VERY important to do before even getting in touch with the company

Before you even get in touch, you have to do some researches!

For what visa(s) you are qualified for?

I advise you to launch the Visa Simulator very quickly to allow you to know your potential future visa.

Then, check if your contact’s company has already sponsored one or more of its employees in the past, when was the last time, for what visa, and if this one match with the one calculated for you.

Check if the company has already sponsored someone for a visa

For this, you must have a USponsorMe account so that you can get access to the full list of corporate sponsors here. Then in the search bar at the top, type the name of the company concerned.

Find visa related information on companies in your network

Find out if your company sponsors visa.

Then click on the company and on “More info about the company.” It will give you all the information you need. And you will see the visas for which this company has already sponsored one or more of its employees.

If the company and the visa are present

Good news! This means that the company is used to it, and has already sponsored one or more employees for your visa. The company already has its lawyer (that you see on the company page on USponsor Me) to take care of that.

You are on the right track. 🙂

If the business or the visa are not present

If you can not find your company in the list, or if the visa for which you are eligible is not in the list of visas for which the company can potentially sponsor someone, don’t mess up!! Act VERY quickly!

This means that the company does not usually sponsor its employees for a work visa. And the big risk is that because of this lack of knowledge, very often, the hiring manager gets scared and declines your application by answering you “we do not sponsor visa”.

Or he tells you he will inquire about visas, and get back to you once he has more information. If he tells you that, know that it’s already too late!

Because I know the music by heart … Your interlocutor is a human like you and me. What it will happen:

  • Your interlocutor will contact a lambda immigration lawyer. However, keep in mind there are about 185 of existing visa! Even a good immigration lawyer is not expert on all visas, it’s NOT possible! Usually, an immigration lawyer will be expert on up to 10 kinds of visa max. So how many percentage you have ending up on a good lawyer, expert on the visa you are eligible? 1 chance on 20, ouch!!
  • OR worse, your interlocutor don’t have so much time, so he will do some research online, and automatically fall on the most popular of all visas type: H-1B or H-2B. And he will read everywhere that this visa is almost impossible to have (which is true in general, but not true for your profile depending on what visa the Visa Simulator calculates for you). Voila….

Result? He will come back to you with the most beautiful phrase of all times: “we do not sponsor visa”.

That’s exactly what happened to Maxime (we didn’t know how it works! We didn’t make any research, we let the company doing it), and that’s exactly what happens every day to candidates who have never found me and this post before their first exchange with their company …

So even before having your first exchange with the company, you need to have all the knowledge you need on the strengths of the visa for which you are eligible.

Because if you really want to make it work, you have to educate the company on the type of visa, the way you will get it, who will take care of the procedure and paper work, how long it will take, etc. Your goal is to reassure the company by completely lifting the fog on this visa.

Once you have passed the Visa Simulator, you will know for which type of visa you are eligible AND you will receive all the information you need to get it!

Be careful!!! The visa that the Visa Simulator calculates for you may not fit your company. So please check the information you will receive once you know your visa. If the company doesn’t fit, or if you have any questions, contact me by responding to my email or writing your comment in the end of this post !! I work in partnership with several immigration lawyers, I can point you to the right organization, or lawyer depending on your situation.

In summary

To sum up, you have to follow 4 steps:

  • Gather all your contacts in one place and enrich your data.
  • Define who are the HR, HM, and LH and who are in connection with the United States among your contacts.
  • Contact these HR, HM, and LH.
  • Connect with your contacts’ contacts to reach HR, HM, and LH in the USA.
  • Do you search on the company, and on your visa.

Do not also forget that in network matters, the key is reciprocity. The day your contact who is helping you need help in return, do it!

Once you have gone through your contacts and second level of your contacts, you can easily expand your field of action … And that’s what we’ll see in a second part (coming soon).

Sharing is Caring!

Sarah Papasodaro

Expat in the USA, creator of the blog Vivre au-delà des frontières, and founder of USponsor me. My goal is to help you achieving your American Dream: living and working in the USA. :)