Job search tips for immigrants
Finding a job in the USA can be very hard for refugees and immigrants. The system here is often different than in their home countries. A writer who has experience in career services shares some job search tips.
Refugees and immigrants face many obstacles in their pursuit of a better life. The challenges do not stop once they reach America, the “land of opportunity”. Adjusting to a new life in the United States is overwhelming. Newcomers face several barriers in achieving success and self-support. As a refugee services intern, I worked with refugees as they tackled the job search process. Here are some job search tips for success.
Be open when applying to jobs
Many of the clients I worked with were professionals in their native country. Some were nurses, veterinarians, and business owners. But to work in the same profession in the USA, refugees and immigrants must often get new certifications, education, and work experiences. A refugee I worked with once joked that U.S.A. stands for “You Start Again.” This was a common feeling among the newcomers I served, which is understandable. It can be frustrating to work as a housekeeper or cashier when you are used to better positions. But, it is important to remember the first job is not a forever job. It should be treated as an opportunity to gain experience and make progress towards earning a good salary and a better job in the future. You can make money while working on your education and new opportunities. You will have a chance to learn about American workplace culture.
Connect with other immigrants and service organizations
Finding a job in the U.S. can be difficult, especially if you have low English proficiency or little work experience. Some employers are more willing to hire refugees and immigrants than others. They may want employees who speak foreign languages. They may have had good experiences hiring immigrants in the past. Building relationships with other newcomers in the community can help you identify and form connections to these employers. Refugee and immigrant service agencies often have ties to these businesses. They can help you with the job search process. You can use FindHello to find services in your local area.
Gain professional skills through volunteer work or job training
Employers value professional skills and look for these in a job applicant’s resume and interview. If you are new to the USA job market, these skills can be gained from certain volunteer positions or job training programs. Although they are unpaid positions, they provide important experience. They can expose you to the dress and behavior that is appropriate in the U.S.A. workplace. Volunteering is also a great opportunity to become involved with your local community and build relationships.
Meet employers in person when you can
The clients I worked with were often afraid to meet with employers. They were uncomfortable with their low English ability. But when employers met with them during hiring events they often commented on how likable and admirable they were. Your life journey shows strength and diversity. This is something many employers find valuable. Most employers do not want you to deliver an application online. But if you are applying to a small business, ask if you can stop by and drop off a paper application. Even if they say no, they will remember the effort you made to do something extra. Many cities host job hiring events where people can meet local employers and learn about job opportunities. Attending these events is another way for you to meet with employers in person.
Improve English skills
Although many industries place a lot of value on foreign language skills, improving your English skills through ESL classes opens more job opportunities. An example is customer service positions where you must have good communication skills. Strong English skills can also help you advance in the workplace, so it is helpful to keep improving it even after getting a job. It can also increase your confidence throughout the job search process and when talking with employers.
Megan Dukes is a student at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, who has provided case management and employment assistance to newcomer job seekers.