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Work in the USA


Working abroad sounds like an adventure to many people. However, it requires thorough preparation, starting with a successful application. This is a brief abstract of the looking for work in United States America guide, highlighting the main focus points. For more detailed information, you should consult the full guide on 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 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 a bold or italic font.
  • Start with clearly mentioning the objective and/or goal of your career.

Resume Writing Advice »

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

Do:
  • Use power words and action verbs in your letter and resume.
  • Be prepared for psychological tests during the application process.
  • Look interested and 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.
Don't:
  • 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
  • Smoke in offices in the US — even if there is an ocean in between, your future employer will find out the truth eventually.
  • Criticize former employers.

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.
  • Employees are motivated by their employers 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.
  • Americans are on a first-name basis with each other from the beginning.

To learn more about working in the USA please see our working in the USA guide for students looking to study in the USA. This is part of our larger study in the USA advice center for students from all around the world.

For more information on employment in the USA, order the Looking for work in United States of America guide - one of 28 Expertise in Labour Mobility Looking for work in guides. It's all you need to make that first successful step abroad!

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