Working in Los Angeles

Los Angeles
Shutterstock.com
Updated 2021-07-30 12:12

California has long been known as the hub for innovation and creativity in the US. And the state's major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco are popular destinations for new graduates and experienced professionals in search of new opportunities in a variety of fields.

If you already have a job waiting for you before departing for Los Angeles, then you probably know exactly what your next steps will be. However, if you are still in the process of looking for a job in LA, this article aims to provide some useful information about the specifics of job hunting in the city.

Popular industries in Los Angeles

It's a fact that's been well documented in movies and songs: a lot of people come to LA in search of stardom. Home to Hollywood and the birthplace of world-famous blockbusters, Los Angeles is indeed the Mecca of the entertainment industry. However, there is way more to this city than Hollywood.

Some of the biggest contributors to the city's economy are business services, trade, financial services, high-tech and more. For more detailed information on popular industries in LA, refer to the Los Angeles Labor Market article.

Where to start your job search in Los Angeles as an expat?

There are several ways to go about job hunting in Los Angeles.

The easiest option would be to look for a company in your current country of residence that may have branches in Los Angeles. This way, you can start your job hunting at home and get transferred to Los Angeles when you land a position.

Another way to go about it is to search for work directly in Los Angeles — and this is rather complicated.

It's very important to remember that you cannot apply for a US working visa until you have a valid job offer from the United States. Unfortunately, obtaining a work visa from outside the United States is quite complicated: there is only a limited number of companies willing to hire foreigners and act as visa sponsors. The process of sponsoring a work visa for a foreigner is costly, complicated and time-consuming. This is why you should be prepared that your job search may be long and will require a lot of work and a strong commitment.

If you are looking for a job in Los Angeles online, focus on companies that mention being a “visa sponsor” for a better chance of landing a position.

You could also take the longer route and travel to the United States to study first. Having a degree from an American university (graduate or undergraduate) can significantly increase your chances of landing a job. What's more, while studying in the US you can also engage in some networking and, perhaps, get acquainted with your future employer. To learn more about studying in Los Angeles, refer to the Universities in Los Angeles article.

Job hunting resources in Los Angeles

There are lots of online and offline resources that can be helpful in your job search.

Online resources

The most obvious place to start your job hunt is by running a simple web search. Look for job offers in your field in LA and include “visa sponsorship” if you are abroad and will require a work visa.

You can also register and upload your CV to popular international career websites like

Careerbuilder.com or Monster.com. You can set up alerts for when new job offers appear in your field or look for opportunities manually.

Headhunting agencies

If you are an experienced professional looking for a senior position, it may be best to go through a headhunting agency.

There are agencies that specialize in specific fields (engineering, IT, media, etc.) and you may find the one that has a good track record of finding employment for people in your line of work.

Career Fairs

If you are already in Los Angeles and are considering new job opportunities, attending a career fair may be a good idea. Career fairs provide an excellent platform for getting a foot in the door with some big employers. Plus, it is a great opportunity to talk to recruiters face to face and make an impression.

To find out about upcoming career fairs in Los Angeles, check out the National Career Fairs website.

Contact employers directly

You can also contact employers directly with your CV and cover letter and inquire whether there are job opportunities available. Research companies that you are interested in, find the contacts for the recruiting manager and reach out via email, Linkedin or another professional network.

Temp agencies and staffing companies

You can get your foot in the door in your industry by taking up temporary roles, which you can easily find through temp agencies. Most of these temporary jobs often lead to full-time positions, and those that don't still give you opportunities to build up your experiences and network to increase your chances of landing a permanent job.

Online ads, job websites, and job boards

Sites like Indeed and LinkedIn are a great place to search for job listings. Also, browse the web to see if your industry has a specific job listing site. For instance, the Starwood Jobs site is dedicated to offers in the hospitality industry. Be cautious of sites like Craigslist, as some posters there like to take advantage of unsuspecting expats. You will find many offers on job sites like ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn, Indeed, job-specific Facebook Groups, Monster, WayUp and Simply Hired.

This is one of the oldest and most popular places to find job listings in L.A. You can find numerous job listings on a local newspaper's classified sections, especially in the Sunday editions.

How to compose a US-style CV?

Before you start your job search, you will need to compose a good CV. This is essential for effective job hunting and your resume can directly affect the success of your search.

Depending on the position you are applying for, you may need to include different information in your CV. However, in most cases, here are the key things to consider:

Format. A popular format for a CV in the US is

listing your work experience in reverse chronological order: that is, putting your most recent workplace first and then describing your previously held positions.

Another frequently used format is the so-called functional or skill-based resume. In this case, you will be focusing on your skill set and expertise in a particular area rather than work experience. You could also use a combination resume format bringing the elements of a chronological and skill-based resume together.

Personal information. At the top of the page, include some basic information about yourself.

This can just be your name. If you want, you can also add a date of birth and other information that you find relevant to the job you are applying for.

Note that it's not recommended to mention your gender, marital status, religion, race, etc. (unless it is essential information for the type of work you are applying for) — as all employers in the United States are under legal obligation to not discriminate.

Contacts. At the top of the page, you should also add your contact information: phone number, email and address. It is also a good idea to add links to your professional website (if you have one) and social media that are relevant to your job application. In this case, make sure to keep your social media profile and activity up-to-date.

Reasons for applying. You can also include a statement on why you are applying for this specific position. It may be related to what you like about the company, your expertise in the area, professional aspirations and more.

Work experience. As mentioned above, it's general practice to start with your most recent employer. Mention the name of the company you worked for, how long you stayed there, your job title and responsibilities. You may also include your most notable achievements in that position.

Education. Here, mention your main degree as well as all relevant courses, certificates, seminars, conferences, etc. that have added to your expertise. Note that if you are a recent graduate, you may want to mention your education information before work experience and go into more detail about your educational achievements.

Languages: this section is very important when it comes to applying for international jobs. Here, you should include the languages you speak and your level of language proficiency (basic, conversational, intermediate, fluent, bilingual, etc. ). If you have any associated degrees or certificates (TOEFL, IELTS, TOEIC, etc.), you should mention them here too. Knowledge of one or more foreign languages can be a significant draw for your potential employer.

Computer Skills. Mention your knowledge of different programs and applications, word processing, database skills, social media experience, etc.

References. Include references from previous employers — especially if the job ad mentions that it would be beneficial. If you are not yet asked for job references, you can offer to provide them upon request.

Here are some other things to keep in mind when composing your CV:

Run the final copy through a spell checker. Spelling mistakes and typos in an otherwise impressive CV can turn off many potential employers. As a result, the hiring manager many end up making an opinion about you before even getting to your qualifications and expertise. Thus, it is very important to make sure your CV is error-free.

Make your CV easy to read. Choose a clear and concise design template for your CV and make sure the page looks neat and all key sections of your resume are highlighted.

Avoid sending heavy attachments. Unless the job offer specifically asks to send over your portfolio or other extras, make your first email clean — with just your CV. You can add that you will be happy to provide other information upon request.

The one thing you should include with your CV is a cover letter.

How to write a good cover letter?

The idea behind writing a cover letter is to get your prospective employer interested in your candidacy and resume. It is also a chance to be a bit less formal and let your employer know a more personal side of you.

So, how do you write a good cover letter?

A cover letter should be concise and concrete — but with a touch of personality. You can start by

explaining why you are interested in the job and what makes you the best candidate for it. You can then go on to list your strongest qualities, career aspirations, how you may be useful to the company and more. It is not recommended to use one and the same cover letter for several different companies. Quite the contrary, it's best to make your cover letter as specific as possible to the position you are applying for.

Here is a base format to keep to when composing your cover letter:

Header: your address, contact information and date.

Greeting: the name of the person the letter is addressed to. If you are not sure who that may be, use a general salutation — like, Dear Hiring Manager or Dear (company name) Recruiter.

Introduction: what position you are applying for, why you are a good candidate and why you want the job. Try to make this section lively and interesting — the goal is to catch the recruiter's attention and get them excited about your CV.

Body: here, you can go into more detail about your skills, qualifications and experience. Mention the most important information — that you want to highlight — as the employer will get all the facts from your CV.

Closing: sum up the letter and add a subtle call to action: for instance, mention that you will be looking forward to the recruiting manager's reply.

Signature: add a “sincerely yours” and your name to complete the letter.

Here are a few extras to keep in mind:

Do your best to find out the name of the person for who your letter is intended. Try the company's website, their LinkedIn profile or maybe even call the reception to ask for the make of the hiring manager. This is a sure way of making your cover letter more personal and make it stand out among letters from other applicants.

Keep it short. The most optimal size of a cover letter is about 300 words. Focus on the most important points and leave the details in your CV.

Show personality. A cover letter is your one chance to make a memorable first impression. Don't be afraid to show a bit of personality and be yourself. After all, the social aspect is an important element of the hiring process.

Interviewing for a job in Los Angeles

An interview is a chance for your employer to learn more about you. And if your CV has been well received, you will be invited for an interview — either face to face or digital media.

Note that, depending on the company, you may need to go through several rounds of interviews before receiving an offer.

To prepare for your first interview, make sure to do some research on your potential employer. Check what the company's mission and values are and think about what you can bring to the team.

Whether you are interviewing in person or remotely, here are a few tips:

Have your CV, degree and other relevant papers ready in case the employee wants to go over these again.

If you are being interviewed remotely, check that you have a stable internet connection and all the equipment needed for the call is working properly (webcam, microphone, etc.).

Re-read your CV and cover letter before the interview to keep it fresh in your head in case there are any related questions.

Illustrate your skills with examples. Try to demonstrate to the interviewer how your skillset translates into specific job responsibilities.

Mention what got you interested in the job and show the interviewer that you are interested in developing your career in their company.

Make sure to clarify your current visa status and ask the interviewer about the process of obtaining a work visa.

Prepare some questions. Most interviews end with your potential employer asking if you have any questions for them. This is a good time to express some interest in the company, position, future responsibilities, etc. As it may be a bit difficult to come up with good questions on the spot, you may prepare a few in advance to get more information about the job.

Finally, inquire what the next step would be: should you expect a call, prepare for another interview, provide additional documentation, etc.

This is optional but it may be a good idea to send an email to the interviewer to thank them for their time.

How to get a work visa to work in Los Angeles

As we've mentioned earlier, in order to work in the United States legally, you will need to apply for a work visa beforehand. Note that coming to the US on a tourist, family or other type of visa and then searching for work is against the immigration laws as it means that you have entered the country under false pretenses.

The process for obtaining a work visa in the US may be lengthy and costly — but it is doable.

To learn about work visa options in the United States, check out this article: Work Visas in the USA: Finding Work As a Foreign National.

You can find a plethora of job offers in L.A between several sources at your disposal. And it is even easier to find jobs in certain industries through specific resources such as professional bodies, recruiting agencies, and your personal network. These resources can help you find offers that are not announced publicly. 

Tips for landing a good job in Los Angeles

The most important thing to do when applying for a job in L.A is researching the company to find out how best you can fit in with it. This will also help you determine what to expect from the interview. The interview process differs based on each company's culture; some can be laid back and informal, while others are formal and dead set.

Researching a company also helps you identify the appropriate dress code for the interview. In L.A, the predominant dress codes for work are business casual and casual, given the city's year-round warm weather. Whatever the dress code is, make sure you appear neat, fresh, and well-organised.

Before the interview, make sure you are equipped with well-articulated answers to the anticipated questions. Visit the location before the interview date to familiarise yourself with the route, and plan to arrive 10-15 minutes ahead of schedule. Also, come with a copy of your CV and previous works in case they are needed.

Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake, and ask questions about the company when you are given the chance to demonstrate proactiveness. After the interview, give the interviewer another handshake, ask for his/her business card/contact info, and then follow up later on with a message thanking them for their time and asking them about their hiring decision.

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.