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Looking for work in the United States of America

Looking for work in another country requires more than just the obvious CV translation.  You will be confronted with issues that probably didn't even cross your mind when you decided to go for an international career, but don't underestimate the big impact they can have on the outcome of your adventure!  Think for example about the different rules and habits regarding immigration, job application procedures, the selection procedures and the management culture.

Expertise in Labour Mobility has prepared practical fact sheets to support you in your job hunting abroad.  A thorough preparation will give you a head start in the country of your choice.  Here is some info on the United States of America:

Work permits in the USA

  •     To work in the USA, you require a visa.
  •     All visas have to be applied for at the American embassy in your home country.
  •     Details can be obtained from the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the US Department of State.
  •     If you are working and living in the USA and do not have a visa, you are considered an 'illegal alien'!

The application procedure in the USA

  •     The Internet is the main source for vacancies and information concerning job applications.
  •     The US application process is very commercial and you truly have to sell yourself.
  • "    The USA is a large country. Common practice in one region can be very different elsewhere, so be sure to find out about local formalities and customs.

Writing a resume in the United States of America

  •     In the US the term resume is used instead of CV.
  •     The key focus of your resume should be to persuade the employer to invite you for an interview. Therefore your resume is a marketing tool, which should be adapted to the market in which you intend to use it.
  •     It is advisable to write a short profile of yourself, using short and punchy sentences filled with action verbs and power words.
  •     Resumes are often scanned by employers; so avoid using different font sizes or a bold or italic font.
  •     Start with clearly mentioning the objective and/or goal of your career.

The application letter in the USA

  •     The application letter should be typed in a short and professional style.
  •     Start with 'Dear Mr./Ms X,' if you know the addressee's name, and end your letter with 'Yours sincerely'.
  •     Start with 'Dear Sir/Madam,' if you do not know the name of the addressee and end with 'Yours faithfully'.
  •     It is not unusual to mention in your letter what salary you are expecting.
  •     Mention your telephone number in the last paragraph of your letter.

Do's & Don'ts in the USA

  •     Use power word and action verbs in you letter and resume. (eg. Accomplished, achieved, carried out, finalized, guided, handled, improved, negotiated, realized, represented, structured, succeeded in)
  •     Be prepared for psychological tests during the application process.
  •     Look interested - ask questions.
  •     Provide examples to illustrate your achievements.
  •     Ask if you don't understand the question.
  •     Send a short letter after the interview, to thank the interviewer.


  •     Sit until invited to do so.
  •     Go over the top - stay calm and stick to the facts.
  •     Put anything besides the truth in your resume, even if there is an ocean in between, your future employer will find out the truth eventually.

Management culture in the United States

  •     The organizational culture within American companies is strongly result orientated.
  •     Companies are focused on direct results and short-term gains.
  •     Employers motivate their employees and there is little direct criticism in either direction.
  •     An agenda is usually distributed before a meeting.
  •     The goal of most negotiations is to 'close the deal'. The long-term relationship is unimportant at that time of the negotiation process.
  •     Americans are on a first-name basis with each other from the beginning.

This information is based on the Looking for work in United States of America guide (ISBN 978-90-5896-061-0), written by Expertise in Labour Mobility. and has been used with their kind permission.  

For more information please visit www.labourmobility.com

Expertise in Labour Mobility are a company who specialize in advice and guidance regarding international labour mobility.  Expertise in Labour Mobility assists organizations in their communication with their expatriate population, ranging from cultural management advice and job hunting information to writing complete expat policies and preparing expat tool kits for a wide range of clients.

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