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Challenges and opportunities finding jobs in America

two men working in warehouse
Photo: iStock/kate_sept2004

My experience of finding a job in America has been kind of a rough one!

Even though I came to the USA with a Master’s degree in Linguistics I had received from a US institution in 2012, I still had to do a lot of work to find jobs in America that reflect my interests and qualifications.

Finding jobs in America should be a top priority.

It is really crucial to orient yourself, as a refugee, about the most effective ways of looking for a job and landing one from the very beginning of your life in America. No matter how many qualifications you have and regardless of how much experience you already have in your field, you are going to face difficulties in the beginning, so you need to benefit from the resources you are provided with by the resettlement organization and the host community.

Learning English is your golden ticket.

The most important requirement for finding a job is to learn English if you don’t already know the language. This is a top priority, and the sooner you learn the better. Unless you at least speak the language, it will be hard for you to apply for jobs and to satisfy your employer at the workplace. Plus, some jobs require the applicant to speak good English. In order to learn English effectively, besides attending school, you need to engage in the community by making friends and attending various social events so that you can learn as much as you can about the American culture and values.

Work to drive so that you can drive to work.

Getting a driver’s license is another top requirement for getting a job. Without a car, it will be very hard to attend English classes and go to work as relying on public transportation cannot be a long-term solution. Even if you have never driven a car before, you will find that getting a driver’s license is relatively easy provided you put in the effort to improve your English.

You have a lot of potential. Use it effectively for finding jobs in America.

There are many jobs in America that don’t require a college degree, so not having a degree shouldn’t be a hindrance to your job-seeking efforts. However, you need to have a resume, or CV, written in English in order to apply for jobs. Resettlement agencies across the U.S. provide plenty of opportunities for refugees to get ready to enter the work environment including writing a resume and attending training workshops, so you should take advantage of all that.

Finding jobs in America often comes down to who you know.

One of the most crucial factors in securing suitable employment in America is having connections. When a business owner or employees know you in advance, that usually increases your chances of getting a job there. In order to make connections, you need to make friends and acquaintances in the host community. In order to keep the flow of friends coming into your life, you need to always look for opportunities to give back to express your appreciation for their help and support.

Challenges are many, but so are opportunities.

It is true that life in America is usually hard at the beginning. However, refugees are usually given access to a variety of resources provided by the resettlement organization and the host community to help them establish a prosperous life and become active members of their host communities.

I work three jobs right now and my life is a lot better than it was a year ago thanks to my friends, the IRC office and host community whose tremendous support was crucial in making many of dreams come true in starting a new chapter of my life in America. You can certainly do that too.

Opinions expressed and advice given in USAHello’s Voices and Hello blogs are the writers’ own. USAHello offers impartial information and online courses to help newcomers in the USA.