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Finding work in the USA


There are lots of ways to find a job in the United States. Even better, you don’t need to be located in the U.S. before you begin your search. However, before you begin, it is important to familiarize yourself with U.S. business culture and application procedures so that your resume (CV) doesn’t get brushed aside.

 Important: Anyone wanting to work in the U.S. is required to have a work visa. Your future employer is required to sponsor your visa and you will not be able to start the visa application process until you have officially been offered the job. It is legally required for the company sponsoring you to pay the fees. If you're applying for the H1B visa, please note that the application submission only opens on April 1st, and it is recommended to have everything ready to submit the visa application then, as the quota fills up quite quickly, sometimes within hours. If the H1B is approved, you can only start working in October of that year. Please note that there are certain types of companies that are exempt from the quota cap, such as non-profit research companies and universities. For further information, please read "Work visas in the USA".

Job hunting methods

There are many ways to look for a job in the United States including the job search engines online, using recruiting agencies, and leveraging your personal network. Below are some of the more effective methods for navigating the U.S. job market.

Internet and job search engines

The internet is probably the biggest tool in modern job searches. Many companies use sites such as Linkedin and Indeed to list positions available. Additionally, you can directly search for companies you’re interested in and see which job openings are listed on their website. Also along these lines are print ads in newspapers, although they are becoming less and less common.

Recruiting agencies

Recruiting agencies (also known as headhunters) match prospective talent with highly skilled or specialized senior positions. These recruiters often work in specific industries and are paid by the employer to fill employee roles, not by the job seeker.


Besides researching job opportunities online, networking is one of the best ways to begin a job search. Leverage your professional relationships as well as casual acquaintances for any prospective job leads. Attend career fairs and join professional organizations to get connected in your industry. In competitive markets, who you know is often an important step in getting your foot in the door.

Employment agencies

Sometimes called temp agencies, these companies provide you with temporary contract work for a fee. This fee can either be paid directly by the employer or be taken as a percentage of your pay.

Speculative contacts

Don't hesitate to send speculative applications to the companies you are interested in. Emails are usually the preferred way, especially in the case of unsolicited applications.

 Good to know: Applications are mostly sent to employers by email or submitted online via the company’s website or even Linkedin. However, the act of sending an application by post mail you could indeed make you stand out from the crowd, but does not guarantee anything.

Resumes (CV) and interviews

Take special care when preparing your resume (CV) for American employers. In the U.S., resumes are only one page long and follow a standard pattern of personal information, experience and qualifications, education, and skills and certifications. If relevant, you may also list memberships with professional organizations. It cannot be stressed enough to ensure that your job title, qualifications, and certificates are accurately translated to their U.S. counterpart.

Your resume should be sent along with a concise and well-written cover letter expressing your interest in the position, and any special skills or qualifications that may set you apart from the crowd that’s not necessarily apparent on your resume. After sending both your resume and cover letter to a company, wait a few days or weeks (depending on the instructions on the job posting), and give them a call or follow up via email.

The interview stage is the next part of the process. Expect for meetings to be conducted in English and be sure to be on time or even a few minutes early. Punctuality is crucial for U.S. meetings and tardiness is seen as disrespectful. Business culture in the U.S. is friendly but also direct, after a few pleasantries, your interviewer will get down to business. Be sure to follow up on your interview within a few hours or a day after, to express thanks for the opportunity and the time taken to interview you, and re-confirming your interest in the position and the company.

Employment contracts

If you’re extended a job offer, it is often finalized with a type of contract. This document will explain your pay, any benefits, as well as company policies. Do not confuse this as a guarantee of permanent employment. Although each state regulates its own workforce and laws, U.S. labor law is quite liberal. Many states follow what is called “at will employment”, meaning that employers are allowed to dismiss employees at will, without having to establish a real reason for dismissal. The employee may also leave without having to give notice, although most companies do require at least a two-week notice. Additionally, there is no law in the U.S. that requires a severance or redundancy payment. That said, it is important for employees to be aware of labor law in their particular state as well as what the employer guarantees when terminating employment.

 Good to know: Working in the U.S. can be quite different compared to working in many other countries. For instance, work is an important part of an individual’s life, as well as their identity, and employers expect a lot from their employees. In fact, it is not in the U.S. Constitution to give paid time off to employees, although most companies give about 5-10 days PTO per year.

 Useful links:

U.S. Department of Labor
H1B visa

Popular job search engines:
Career Builder

Staffing agencies:​​​​​​​
​​​​​​​Manpower USA
Elite Staffing

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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See also

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If you wish to acquire work experience in the United States, here is some information about internships and training.
Are you moving to the U.S. and looking for a job in Washington D.C.? Here are some tips to help you in your local Washington D.C. job search.
Are you moving to the U.S. and looking for a job in New York City? Here are some tips to help you in your local NYC job search.

Would you like to live in the USA?

Find useful information in our expatriate guide.