How to Apply for a Job in the USA

Working in the United States is a multi-step process involving visa applications (if you are currently outside the country), job searches and resume-writing. Research each step to ensure you are following proper job application procedures. This is especially important if you do not currently live in the United States and are unaware of cultural expectations when you apply for a job. Ask American friends for advice, and carefully follow job advertisement application instructions as you begin to look for a job in the U.S.

Check company websites, state job databases, city and county newspapers, general online job boards, professional association websites, charities that assist immigrants and trade journals to find a job opening that interests you. (See Reference 2.) The employer must be willing to sponsor your work visa if you do not have employment authorization because of your immigrant status. (See Reference 1.) Information on particular types of work visas for students, immigrants and temporary/non-immigrants is available on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration website under “Working in the U.S.” Apply for a work visa at the U.S. embassy in your home country. (See Reference 3.)

Write a resume that briefly describes your work experience and educational background. Highlight your skills and accomplishments, such as software you can use, languages you speak or any awards you have won at a job. (See Reference 2.) Keep the resume shorter than two pages in length. List your jobs and schools from the ones you most recently held/attended first to the oldest ones last. Do not send your entire curriculum vitae, which is longer and more detailed than a resume. Do not include a picture of yourself. Avoid indicating political, religious or other similar organizations to which you belong on your resume or stating your age. This helps ensure your resume is treated as equally as any other applicant’s.

Proofread your resume carefully. Use action-oriented verbs (managed, supervised, accomplished, for example) and short, powerful sentences. Any grammatical, spelling or formatting error can get your resume thrown in the trash. Help on writing your resume can be found on the Monster Career-Advice website. (See Resources.)

Write a cover letter expressing your interest in the position. Your cover letter should be no longer than one page in length. Explain in detail why you think you are a good match for the job. Avoid rehashing your entire resume. The employer can read the resume for himself. Highlight key experiences and skills you have that are vital for the job. Review your cover letter to be sure it is free from mistakes. Monster, a career advice website also offers tips for formatting and writing cover letters.

Submit your cover letter and resume according to the instructions in the job posting, whether it's via an online application, email or regular mail. Follow the submission instructions exactly as they are stated in the job advertisement. (See Reference 3.) If an employer tells you to include your previous salary information in the cover letter, state that you are open to negotiating salary.

Attend your interview dressed professionally and ready to answer questions about your background and work experience confidently and concisely. Arrive at the interview at exactly the time agreed upon. (See Reference 2.) This is vital as other candidates may be interviewed after you, and showing up on time demonstrates to the employer that you are punctual. Do not sit until asked by the interviewer to do so. (See Reference 3.) Get to the point in your answers, highlighting relevant skills and experiences you have, and using examples to illustrate your points. (See Reference 3.) If you interview over the phone, maintain a confident, polite and patient tone. Keep a positive attitude. Send a letter or email thanking the employer for the interview and reiterating your interest in the position the day after the interview.

Follow up with the employer in about two weeks if you have not heard anything about the job. Remain polite and courteous when you contact the employer. Say, “I’m calling to find out the status of my application for __ position, which I submitted recently.”

References

Resources

About the Author

Leyla Norman has been a writer since 2008 and is a certified English as a second language teacher. She also has a master's degree in development studies and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.