First, let me make this clear. I am not an attorney and nothing in this post should be interpreted as offering legal advice.
Second, this post is meant for foreign nationals wanting to move to the US. Be aware, there is no shortage of charlatans who will try and con you out of your money. Remember: No one can guarantee you a job. If someone promises to get you a job if you pay them, even if it is only an “administrative fee,” they are lying.
The purpose of this post is to help foreign nationals outside the United States to understand what it takes to get and keep a job in this country and to announce the launch of a new service which I am offering to these individuals.
Of course, the simplest way to get a job here is to enter as a student. Get as many internships as possible. Do a great job. Have an employer who hired you for an internship sponsor you.
Alternatively, work for a company in your home country with offices in the US. Like everything else, you will have a lot of competition. The key to getting a transfer to the US, once you have proven yourself, is differentiation. Your employer will want to know that you will be able to “handle” the US. That’s the service that I now offer: I will make you different from your competition in the ways that matter: communication and culture.
In addition to being a student or a transferee, foreigners can get work visas either as Temporary (Nonimmigrant) Workers or Permanent Workers, for which there are only 140,000 visas. To say that this is a complicated labyrinth is to engage in understatement. That is why it is so important to utilize your local US Consulate and, possibly, to have an immigration attorney.
Regardless of which visa you have, when you arrive you will have to have an employer. It’s the only way to get the proper visa. Countless people contact employers constantly asking for sponsorships. They are denied because they don’t know how to ask. They are not prepared. My clients will be prepared.
Let me reiterate, my concern is not with the legalities of immigration. For that there are immigration attorneys and, obviously, the US Consulate. What I am concerned about is that the immigration be successful. What could be worse than moving all the way to the US only to be fired because “it is not a good fit?”
Just because you get the visa does not mean you are guaranteed employment for life. Things don’t always work out. You may have all the professional skills and credentials, but because of a strange culture and language, things may not work out. In other words, what is missing are the personal skills. I want to make certain that does not happen to you.
These are the problems that I want to eliminate for my International Career Counseling clients:
- Knowledge of conversational English. Professionally, your English may be perfect, but your everyday English may be wanting. You can describe your latest professional project perfectly, but you can’t order breakfast at a local diner. You will learn to converse in English.
- But it is not enough to know the words, pronunciation and articulation are just as important. If no one can understand you, you might as well be speaking your native language. If necessary, I will introduce you to a speech therapist who will teach you to speak clearly. (It can be done using a Skype-like system.)
- You may know the history of the United States better than most Americans, but you may not understand the culture. What is acceptable in your country may not be acceptable here. This is especially true of workplace behavior. One mistake, even an innocent mistake, could result in your employer being sued and you losing your job. You will learn what not to do in the workplace and, for that matter, on the street.
- Looking for a job in the US, from building your brand to networking to cover letters to resumes to interviewing, will be different for you. You need to understand the process before you start the search for a sponsor (assuming you are not coming to the US as a student or a transferee from a local company). You will learn the process.
- Once you get the job, and start work, there is plenty that can still go wrong. You may be uncomfortable speaking with your boss or colleagues about certain topics. You’ll have me to consult with for the first year that you are in the US.
So remember, just because you have that prized piece of paper – the visa – in your hands, guarantees you nothing more than the opportunity to be successful in the United States. Your success will be dependent on your ability to communicate in English and to understand American culture. That’s where I come in.
Ironically, after proofreading this post, I stepped away from my desk. Someone called and left me a message. I could barely understand him. It sounded like he said he was from Kenya and that I had gotten a job for one of his friends. He asked me to call him back. First problem, I did not understand his name. Second problem, he did not leave a number. Third problem, when I phoned the number that appeared on my telephone I.D., I received a message that voice mail had yet to be set up. This is exactly what I mean by “personal skills.” This man may be very accomplished in his field, but because he does not understand how things are done in the US, and probably no one has told him about his communication problems, he may not find employment. Learn from his mistakes; don’t repeat them!
Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter, career counselor and business advisor. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he chairs their Entrepreneurs Network, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador. Visit the homepage of his website, www.hsstaffing.com, to read about the latest questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies.