So you’ve taken the plunge and moved to the US to try your luck in the Big Apple? Let me guess, sublet – tick. Favourite cocktail bar – tick. Growing credit card bill – tick. Now what you really need is to find a job. It can get a wee bit tricky, so I’ve put together this guide to jumpstart your US job hunt, with tips for Americanizing your job search.
As one of the most competitive job markets in the world, finding work in New York is going to be quite different to what you’re used to in Australia. Making sure you’re ready to tackle the task like an American will help you be successful in what will ultimately enable you to live and work in the US.
Toot your own horn loud and proud!
Americans are not afraid of being their biggest advocate. Unfortunately, this isn’t something Aussies are typically very good at. It just feels a bit wankerish to talk yourself up, right? Well, you’re going to have to get over that, and quickly. If you get put forward for an interview, remember you’re going to be up against other Americans who have been taught from school-age how to sell themselves, so if you don’t do it, they will!
People are going to want to know your story, but they don’t have all day to hear it – life is fast-paced in New York. Have your pitch about who you are, what you want out of life, and why you’re brilliant at what you do ready to roll at a moment’s notice (and preferably in 25 words or less).
It’s not what you know, but who you know
Networking, yuck! And if there was any way around it, believe me I’d be the first person to tell you how to do it. But networking is simply a way of life here. And not just casual, accidental conversations – but rather, deliberate, regular and strategic meet-ups.
Contact people who have jobs in fields or companies you want to work and see if they would be willing to meet you for a coffee. Most of them will view this as a compliment and will gladly give you 30 minutes of their time. Treat these opportunities like you would a job interview; take a resume and have your elevator pitch, as well as some intelligent questions, ready. You never know what unadvertised openings they might be aware of, or other contacts they might have.
Understand the ins and outs of the E3 visa
As Australians, we are in such a lucky position to have the option to use the E3 visa. The problem is, however, that many American recruiters have never heard of it. Some will even think you’re making it up. So you’ll need to be au fait with the intricacies of how the visa works and what’s required of your employer should they ask you to explain it to them. Not having a clear answer could mean the difference between them picking you and picking someone who doesn’t come with the added baggage of a visa application process.
There are some very useful websites that explain the various elements of the process and what employers are required to do, such as VisaCoach.org which covers many topics including how to describe your working status on applications and resumes.
You might have to step sideways (or even downwards) to get your foot in the door
When you imagine your life in New York, the picture probably comes complete with you working in your dream job. Without wanting to dash any hopes or dreams, it’s important to keep things real. You are going to be up against plenty of other wannabe New Yorkers in your quest to find that perfect job, and so keeping an open mind is very important.
You may have to be willing to take a sideways – or downwards – step for that first job in New York. Recruiters aren’t inclined to value (or even know) many Australian companies and want to see that you have had American-based experience. So if you can get your foot in the door with one company, it makes the next job much easier to score. The dream job, while not unobtainable, might just be a little bit further away than you first thought.
Keep your resume to one page. No, really.
I was told this a lot when I first moved over and even though I would nod in agreement, I didn’t really believe it. But having been on the other side for four years now, I’ve witnessed 2 and 3 page resumes getting turfed without even a second thought. So why risk it? Be cut throat on your bullet points and keep your resume to exactly what’s needed to tell your story.
I found some great online resume building tools that make this job (a little bit) more fun and take the headache out of design. Try Zety for slick templates that let you manage multiple versions and send as a PDF or as a web page. Resume Coach has nifty content blocks based on your role or industry that you can lift and drop when inspiration is lacking!
Where to work when you’re looking for work
Half the battle of job hunting is staying focused and motivated. The lure of Netflix can be all too strong when you’re in your own apartment. So if you’re looking for some alternative and inspiring places to work, check out this comprehensive list – many of them are free and you can surround yourself with a positive professional vibe.
Have you successfully landed a job in the US? What tips do you have for newcomers to jumpstart their US job search? What resources would you recommend? Let us know in the comments below.