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25 Essential Job Search Tips for Immigrants

Thursday | September 5, 2019 | by WES Advisor

job search tips

Are you looking for a job in the United States or Canada? Find the advice you need to succeed, all in one post.

Below, we collected the best advice from our experts and the WES Advisor archives. Whether you are actively looking for a job or just researching your options in North America, these tips can help you achieve your goals. 

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This comprehensive list should be part of every immigrant’s job search toolkit. Be sure to bookmark this post so you can easily reference it.

Keep reading for essential strategies and resources that will help you find the perfect job!


PREPARE FOR YOUR JOB SEARCH

job search tips

  1. Start by taking stock of your abilities. Do you lack any skills that could prevent you from obtaining the job of your dreams?
  1. If you lack key skills, consider completing a short training program at a vocational school or community college. Look for affordable career pathway programs that can help you enter the workforce as quickly as possible.
  1. Consider earning a stackable credential. You can earn these once you arrive in North America. For example, an international degree in business can be boosted with a stackable credential in management. Employers like to hire immigrants who have continued their education upon arrival. This will help you stand out as a job candidate.
  1. Be sure to update your profile on LinkedIn. Add your most recent job title, training, and skills. Your photo counts, too: Make sure you are using a clear, professional image.
  1. While you’re at it, check that you have a strong profile summary. That’s the description at the top of your personal page on LinkedIn. It is the first section a recruiter sees when they are searching for job candidates. Mention your most important job titles and specialized skills, so you show up in recruiter searches!

REACH OUT TO YOUR NETWORK

job search tips

  1. Did you know that employee referrals are the best way to get hired? Connect with friends and former colleagues. Let them know what kind of role you are seeking, and provide them with a copy of your résumé. Your network may be able to refer you for a role that isn’t even advertised to the public yet.
  1. If you have a contact at the company you want to work for, reach out to them and ask for insights. You never know—your conversation could result in advice that helps you stand out in your job interview. Or they could connect you with a more senior hiring manager!
  1. Expand your network by attending events. You can meet new people at local career fairs, conferences, mentoring events, and industry meetups. You can even learn about job openings at regular social functions, like birthday parties, where you have the chance to meet new people outside of your usual circle.
  1. Ask former colleagues and supervisors to recommend you on LinkedIn. A recommendation is a short testimonial that endorses your work. It helps if you ask people who you know well and worked with closely. You might increase your chances if you offer to write one for them, in return.
  1. Discover the power of informational interviews. This is an informal meeting with a professional in your field. It is a chance for you to learn more about your desired industry, role, or organization. This is not only a great way to network, it could also lead to a referral!

WHAT DOCUMENTS DO YOU NEED?

job search tips

  1. Did you know that employers spend an average of six seconds reviewing a résumé? So keep it short, and stick to the basics. Your résumé should not be longer than one page.
  1. Similarly, your résumé should be front-loaded with keywords. You should include some language that matches the job description for the position you are trying to fill. It’s a good idea to tailor your résumé to match each job that you apply for, even though that takes a little more effort. It will be worth it when you land the perfect job.
  1. You also need to prepare a strong cover letter. This document should tie together the bullet points from your résumé. But, like the résumé, keep it short! Aim for a one-page cover letter that describes your experience and why it makes you the perfect job candidate.
  1. Your cover letter is the perfect place to not only showcase your writing skills but also to brag about yourself! When writing your cover letter, emphasize your strengths and accomplishments. Tailor your cover letter to match the job description for every role you are pursuing. Do not use the same cover letter for each application!
  1. Even if you are not required to submit a portfolio, it is still a good idea to send the hiring manager samples of your prior work. This could include white papers, blueprints, marketing ads, clothing patterns, website designs, or any other examples of your accomplishments that match the job description. Hiring managers love when applicants go above and beyond!

GET A CREDENTIAL EVALUATION

job search tips

  1. Another important document in your job search arsenal is a credential evaluation. This report is essential for internationally educated job seekers. It tells employers the equivalent of your degree in the U.S. or Canada, putting you on equal footing with local job candidates.
  1. Your credential evaluation also adds value by helping employers understand your previous career experience and licenses.
  1. Before you order a credential evaluation, determine which report is the best fit for your needs. For example, do you need a basic Document-by-Document evaluation (to evaluate your overall degree) or a more detailed Course-by-Course evaluation (to evaluate your transcripts and GPA)?
  1. Submit proof of your credential evaluation with your job application. It shows that you are a proactive job candidate who is prepared for a career in a new country. You should also bring this with you to your job interview.
  1. A credential evaluation has lifetime value. To make the most of your order, determine all of the ways you might use your report in the future. You can choose a package that comes with a Digital Badge, for example, if you would like to showcase your accomplishments on social media sites like LinkedIn. You can also order extra copies in advance.

ACE YOUR JOB INTERVIEW

job search tips

  1. If you are contacted for a job interview, make sure you have developed your elevator pitch ahead of time. An elevator pitch is a 30-second speech in which you “sell yourself” to your potential employer. Your pitch should highlight the greatest achievements of your career.
  1. Plan responses to common interview questions ahead of time. Although there is no way to predict every question you may be asked, running through a “practice interview” with a friend or family member can help you build confidence and prepare for the actual interview.
  1. Arrive at your interview fully prepared. You should bring copies of your credential evaluation, résumé, and cover letter. Your interviewer may ask to see your documents again to verify a topic that comes up. You will look like a competent prospect if you have everything ready the moment they ask!
  1. Prepare a few questions about the job or the company. At the end of the interview, your interviewer will ask if you have any questions. You want to pose thoughtful questions that show you have thoroughly researched the company and are interested in learning more about the role.
  1. Follow up after the interview. To express your interest in the position, it is a good idea to send a thank-you email to your interviewers. Thank them for taking the time to speak with you, refer back to a topic you spoke about, and briefly reiterate why you are a good fit for the role. This is a common custom (and a polite gesture) in North America.

Find more expert advice and quick tips here:

100 Tips for Immigrants

WES Advisor is an initiative of World Education Services, a non-profit organization with over 45 years of experience in international education. We provide advice and resources for international students and skilled immigrants to help them make informed decisions about education, employment, immigration, and integration opportunities in the U.S. and Canada.