Need expat info for USA?
The US Labor Market and the Job Search
After checking whether you have the right qualifications to start working in the US, you’ll also be interested in employment opportunities and general prospects. If there are no jobs for your occupation, or in a specific area, or if the average salary is much lower than back home, the whole visa and immigration process may not be worth it.
The job profiles in the Occupational Outlook Handbook cite the median annual pay for this occupation across the USA. Median salary means that 50% of people in this field earn more than this sum, and the rest earns less.
The site, too, briefly summarize the nationwide job prospects for the following ten years. You can access more in-depth information on general employment trends and statistics if you browse the Occupational Outlook Quarterly and the Monthly Labor Review.
For employment on the individual state level, My Next Move is a highly recommended resource. If you browse their career section by industry, they also offer summary descriptions for specific jobs (e.g. graphic designer). On the job overview site, the field called "job outlook" is of particular importance. Click the button "Check My State" to see which states have above-average, or below-average work opportunities for your chosen profession. “Local Salary Info” then gives more insight into annual pay from state to state.
The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics regularly publishes local area unemployment statistics, where you can find the current unemployment rates from Alabama to Wyoming. The government Department of Labor also has a lengthy list of regional and local workforce services (e.g. for Georgia). The link to the respective state department of labor (e.g. the Georgia Department of Labor) is of particular interest. This type of site has more regional labor market information, as well as career advice on looking for work in that state.
When you’ve finished checking out employment opportunities in specific areas, you can finally start with the job search as such. Don’t just type a job title and a location into some random job search engines, but rather go about it more systematically.
First of all, identify important trade journals for the US economy. Together with the websites of professional associations, they are a good starting point. Not only do they talk about current trends in your field of work, but many of them publish job listings and open positions as well. Moreover, check out member directories of trade associations, as well as the companies which are mentioned or advertise in trade journals, to help you identify potential employers.
Of course, scouring online job banks and newspaper ads remains a perfectly valid way of job hunting. Popular job search engines for the US labor market include:
If you can get hold of the print editions of big US newspapers and magazines, their classifieds section might advertise some vacancies that aren’t available on their website (and vice versa). You should make sure to have a look at these papers:
- Wall Street Journal
- The New York Times
- The Los Angeles Times
- The Washington Post
- The Chicago Sun Times
- The Chicago Tribune
Plenty of jobs are either not openly advertised, or they go to candidates who have already established contacts within the company. Therefore, networking is key, but how can you go about it from abroad? If you can’t go on business trips to the US or visit conferences and trade fairs in the United States, there are still some other possibilities.
- Watch the event calendar of your nearest US Embassy or Consulate and attend business-related events there.
- Join the American Chamber of Commerce in your home country and meet representatives from US companies at their events.
- Go to local trade fairs or job fairs which are bound to have their fair share of US or multi-national companies in attendance.
- Or just take your networking online! In addition to US-centric industry blogs, traditional career networking sites like LinkedIn, or social media such as Twitter, there are some new websites that specialize in online mentoring and personal career advice. Pivotplanet and Evisors are two good examples of this trend.
Best of luck with your expat career in the United States!
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