Working in the USA

Immigrate to the USA – for many people, this is their dream. Those who are ready to work hard will get far in America. There is a saying, however, that you will need to get used to: different countries, different customs. On that note, searching for and applying for a job in the United States will not be the same as in your home country. Find out below how to search and apply for a job as well as some tips to take into consideration.

USA Jobs: Where are the best places to find work?

To work in the USA, you are required to have a permit to live and work in the USA, or in other words, you must have a Green Card or a valid work visa. With either of these, the doors of the American job market are open to you.

You have already won in the Green Card Lottery and are already planning the next steps for your move to the land of your dreams. Naturally, where you decide to live in the USA depends heavily on where you get a job. Luckily, job prospects in the USA are looking good for immigrants: The newest studies released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the unemployment rate in the USA is the lowest it’s been since 2007.

It is important to become familiar with the American job market and get a good understanding of large and important markets and companies. The service sector, education and health sectors as well as the so-called TIMES-market are booming. TIMES stands for the telecommunication, information technology, multimedia, entertainment and security services. 

Service sector

The service sector is the main pillar of the US economy. Almost 80% of all employees work in the service sector. That includes trade, transportation, the insurance business, media and banking as well as the education, communication and information sectors.

INDUSTRY

The second largest sector is industry. The USA is at the forefront in the, for example, engineering and transport industries. The United States also takes the lead in the chip and software industry, the chemical sector, medical technology, oil and natural gas production as well as being at the top of the food industry.

HIGH TECH INDUSTRY

Naturally, California is famous for having the largest entertainment industry in Los Angeles, but it is Silicon Valley’s high-tech industry that is bringing in the money. All the big tech firms like Apple, Google, Adobe, eBay and Facebook are at home in the valley. There are other high-tech hotspots in the USA, though. Maybe you would prefer a job with Microsoft in Seattle or with Amazon in Washington D.C.

ReSEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

If you are more interested in working in the medical field, pharmaceutical research and development sector or in biotechnologies, then you should feel at home in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina with the company GlaxoSmithKline. You might also like Maryland and the Washington D.C. region which are famous for their R&D sector. Here you will find the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institute on Health (NIH) and the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP). Boston, Massachusetts is considered the hub for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector and is home to more than 100 companies in this sector. If you want to head south, then you can find oil giants like ExxonMobil in Houston, Texas.

Of course, the American job market is as large and diverse as the country itself. Everything is possible – so get out there and decide where you want to work!

Use the freedom the Green Card gives you to its fullest! You are free to work in whatever field you want. You can carry on with your former profession or start with a completely new one. Whether you want to be a freelancer, employed or start your own business – in America the doors of opportunity are open to you!

These jobs are especially popular in the USA

The United States is famous for being the land of unlimited opportunities and the broad job market does give many people the chance to find their dream job. According to the United States Census Bureau, there were 159.8 million employed persons above the age of 16 as of May 2017. Not all of them were employed in Silicon Valley, however. The service sector in the United States creates the most jobs for Americans.

The data show the retail sector employs the most people in the United States with 4,528,550 salespersons followed by 3,541,010 cashiers. Not far behind the retail sector is the food industry which employs 3,426,090 food preparers and fast food workers. Continuing down the list are:

  • office clerks
  • registered nurses
  • customer service representatives
  • freight and stock movers
  • waiters and waitresses
  • secretaries

Number ten on the list are general managers, which is good news for those looking to start their own business in the USA.

Image of US Flag and Made in USA sign

The job market is also growing in the USA. Currently the national job growth rate is 1.2 percent, but it can be up to 5 percent in some counties like Williamson, Tennessee. According to statistics collected from December 2015 to December 2016 there were an additional 1.8 million jobs created that year with Los Angeles, California at the top of the list. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the fastest growing occupations up until 2024 will be:

  • wind turbine technicians
  • occupational therapy assistants
  • physical therapist assistants
  • home health aides
  • commercial divers.

The job market in the USA is ever growing and changing and you are sure to find the right job if you know where to look.

The best paid jobs in America

The average fully employed male in the USA earned $51,212 annually compared to females who earned $40,742. Median wages in the USA differ between men and women, race groups as well as, naturally, occupations. According to data from a 2014 wage estimate survey done by the U.S. Bureau of Labor, 16 of the top 30 highest-paying jobs were in the medical field. Below are some of the top paying jobs in the USA and their potential for growth:

JOB

AVERAGE ANNUAL PAY

PROJECTED GROWTH (by 2022)

Anesthesiologists

$246,320

18 %

Surgeons

$240,440

18%

Obstetricians and Gynecologists

$214,750

18%

Psychiatrists

$182,700

16%

Chief Executives

$180,700

11%

Petroleum Engineers

$147,520

26%

Computer and Information Systems Mangers

$136,280

15%

Lawyers

$133,470

10%

Airline Pilots

$131,760

-1%

Sales Managers

$126,040

8%

What is the average pay per state in the USA?

When you are deciding where you want to live in the USA there are many factors to take into consideration. Whether you prefer the east or west coast in America or the beach or the mountains, the USA is big enough for a variety of tastes. One defining factor for where you decide to live might be your job and the state your job is in may influence how much you earn. The relationship between living costs and wages is also something that needs to be considered when you make the USA your new home. Below are some examples of average wages* for different jobs in California, Ohio and Florida.

Job

Average Salary in California

Average Salary in Ohio

Average Salary in Florida

Accountants

$62,516

$67,735

$60,739

Cashiers

$18,426

$20,964

$18,846

Construction workers

$34,712

$40,942

$26,093

Fast Food workers

$16,732

$20,504

$19,069

High School Teachers

$61,143

$66,065

$46,721

Pilots

$74,305

$47,108

$74,241

Registered Nurses

$83,543

$67,859

$61,154

Secretaries

$32,728

$35,493

$29,585

Social Worker

$55,766

$49,002

$58,006

Software Developer

$103,667

$94,978

$89,666

Source: Ramussen College

Examining the data for ten different jobs in three states reveals that wages vary greatly from job-to-job as well as from state-to-state. California is famous for being the tech-hub of the world, so it is no wonder that software developers earn a better living wage there. Some salaries vary greatly like those for nurses or school teachers, so it would be wise to do research about your occupation before you start applying for jobs.

Unless you already have your heart set on a special place in the USA, you should take the time to explore the US job market - your dream job could be anywhere! If you would like to be the next to apply for one of the highest-paying jobs in America, then apply for the Green Card Lottery and make your dream come true!

Applying for a job in the USA

Important during the job search is to apply, apply, apply. Collect a list of open positions or job advertisements that interest you, start writing and get applying. The main goal is to leave a good first impression with the human resources officer or company so that you will get invited to a job interview. Once you are at the interview, you can convince the employer of your skill-set personally. In today’s age, most applications are submitted online. A job application in the USA only includes a resume/Curriculum Vitae and a cover letter. Despite this, use the space you have to be creative and put yourself in a positive light!

Tip: Create a list of your key qualifying skills in both your work and social life. These can be helpful to have on hand while writing your cover letter.

Job application: Curriculum Vitae/Resume

Your resume should be chronological and is, for the most part, anonymous. Personal details like religion, age, marital status, signature and photos should never be included in an American job application. As a general rule, you should try to fit your entire resume on one page and only include information that highlights your work performance.

Your resume should include your professional experience, your educational background and your soft skills. Make it clear that you are ambitious and clearly lay out your career goals with the company.

Your resume should include the following sections:

  • Personal Details
  • Job/Career Goal
  • Education
  • Experience
  • Special Abilities/Special Skills

Job application: Cover Letter

When writing your cover letter, you have some room to be a bit more creative and the first sentence should capture the attention of the reader. The cover letter should be a concise summary of your competencies in relation to the position you are applying for. It should convince the employer that you have the soft and hard skills needed to be a successful employee.

Find a healthy balance of self-confidence and modesty in your cover letter. Here you need to be honest and not exaggerate your skills, but on the other hand don’t be too modest and forget to include some.

Your cover letter should always be addressed directly to a certain person. Whether through friends, neighbors or research using social media platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook, networking is an important aspect of searching for a job. Use every opportunity to make connections and to maintain relationships. You can better guarantee, thereby, your chances of finding a job.  

A complete job dossier including educational certificates and diplomas, job recommendations and references will be requested by the company you are applying to as needed.

Applying in English: The Dos and Don’ts

First things first, we would like to get straight down to business – the English language. English has become one of the most widely spoken languages in the world and many of us start or started learning English during our school years. That is why your priority when applying for a job in the USA is to write a convincing resume.

It is important that the vocabulary you use says exactly what you want to say. Use vocabulary that is specific to your field of work, but there is also no need to make your resume more complicated than it should be! In this case, think “less is more”.

DO’s:

  • In your application, use a strong expressive writing style with many active verbs like “fostered relationships” instead of “worked closely”. Further meaningful verbs include “charted”, “administered”, “consolidated”, “launched” and “maximized”;
  • Skills: customer-orientated, handle stress easily, team player, drive to succeed, meeting targets, eager to learn, good at multitasking, defuse conflict situations, problem solver, listens attentively, provides constructive feedback, strong planning skills;
  • Motivation: “I note with interest that…” “I am keen to broaden my knowledge in the field of…”, “I want to take on more responsibility”;
  • Unsolicited Application: “I am writing to inquire whether you have a vacancy in your firm.”
  • Ende: “Should you require further information about my qualifications, I would be pleased to quote references,” “I would welcome the opportunity to discuss further details of the position with you personally”;
  • Salutation: Always address your application to a specific contact person. If the gender of the person you’re addressing in unclear, use: Dear, first name and last name;
  • Networking: When appropriate, provide links to your professional social media site like LinkedIn;
  • Work references: Include the following comment at the end of your resume: References available upon request.

DON‘Ts:

  • Don’t begin your cover letter with: “I am submitting my resume regarding the open position of Systems Analyst advertised in the Cape Coral on April 13th”;
  • Try to avoid using the first person “I” as much as possible;
  • Avoid words which carry a negative connotation like aggressively, attempt, be eager, used to;
  • Do not use contractions in your resume or cover letter: Don’t = do not, I’m = I am, Can’t = cannot
  • Don’t use standard empty phrases except for in the closing of the cover letter. Here, formulations like “I look forward to hearing from you” and “Yours sincerely...” are appropriate.

Follow-up after sending in an application

Last but not least you should not forget about your application once it has been sent. Inquire with the company if they received your application and ask about the current status of your application. Following-up on your application signals professionalism and motivation to your future employer. Now all you can do is cross your fingers and wait for a job interview to be scheduled.

The job interview

It is normal to be nervous about your job interview because it is your chance to leave a positive first impression. It is also your chance to get a feel for your possible new employer and job. Job interviews are usually comprised of two phases, but naturally this differs from company to company.

  1. The introduction phase: take a small amount of time to introduce yourself and make small talk.
  2. The information phase: here is the time to discuss your competencies, skills and work experience as well as ask questions about the company.

Tip: Practice a mock job interview with your family and friends until you feel comfortable. During this time, fine-tune your English and pay attention to your body language. Ask your friends and family for honest feedback. Also make sure to pick out appropriate clothing.

Do research on the company you are applying for before the interview. It is vital to show interest in the company. What does the company do? Does the company have cooperation partners? What is their main line of business? Make sure you know exactly what responsibilities your future job entails.

It is not uncommon nowadays to have job interviews held over video chats like Skype. The process is still the same and you should be prepared just the same.

Appearance and body language

A job interview is like a sales pitch: in the end, you are in fact selling your skills and qualifications to the company. Your outward appearance plays an important role since it is the first thing the interviewer will notice. Make sure that you wear something elegant and decent like a suit or pantyhose if you are wearing a business skirt.

Don’t underestimate the importance of body language. Give off positive energy from the very beginning of the job interview:

  • Be composed and self-assured and do not shuffle your feet nervously;
  • A friendly, natural, smile will create a positive atmosphere;
  • Keep eye contact to show interest and attention

Writing a thank you Letter

In America it is common to write a thank you letter after the job interview. This attests to your professionalism as well as strengthening the positive memory of your interview with the company.

Tip: Ask the interviewers for a business card directly after the job interview.

The thank you letter should be sent 2-3 days after the interview as either an e-mail or a short letter.

Work contracts and more

After a successful job interview, there is only one more step to the application process: signing a work contract. What does an American work contract look like though?

Salary in the usa

The statutory minimum wage in the USA is 7.25 USD per hour. Earnings in the USA vary greatly depending on your job and the state you live in. It is best to inform yourself of the average salary for your job in the state where you are living before signing a work contract.  


Get a driver's license in the USA.

 

Protection from Job Dismissal

Job protection laws in the USA are not a concept defined as strongly as in Germany or other European countries. Laws are defined by several federal and state decisions and, of course, everything is a matter of negotiation. In many companies, for example, the common contractual period of notice is two weeks. The flexible job market in the USA opens many doors for employers as well as for employees. Do not let yourself feel insecure by the hire and fire mentality in the USA. Naturally, American companies see that it is in their best interest to hire qualified workers for the long-term.

Vacation days

Americans employed full-time, working 35 to 40 hours a week, are usually given ten paid vacation days a year. The number of vacation days depends of course on the size of the company. Smaller companies, for example, may not be able to afford to pay employees on officially-free bank holidays. Depending on the industry, some employees receive overtime pay for working on American bank holidays as well as Sundays, holidays, and night shifts.   

Follow your interests

At the end of every job application process, what really matters is how you feel. Is the position calling your name? Do you like the work environment, the office and your colleagues? There are many factors to take into consideration when searching for a job. The free job market in the USA opens up many possibilities to be creative. Take the time after your job interview to recapitulate the process. Think about what you could have done better or differently as well as if the company suits you and your interests. A new start, especially in a new country, is a rollercoaster full of ups and downs. Success is mastering these ups and downs.

US Taxes

Tax law in the USA is strongly characterized by its status as a federal republic. Consequently, tax law is defined by many levels of government agencies and is imposed on Americans by the federal, state and local governments. In the USA, every person must calculate how much tax they owe by filing a tax return with the Internal Revenue Ageny (IRA) every year.

Fundamentally:

  • US citizens, Green Card holders as well as foreign citizens permanently residing in the USA are all required to file a tax return
  • All earned worldwide income is subject to taxation
  • There is a double taxation agreement between some countries and the USA, like Germany: Income earned is subject to taxation in the country it was earned in, but some income, e.g. real estate, is not subject to double taxation
  • US citizens and Green Card holders must annually file a tax return by April 15.
  • US tax law is extremely complicated and getting help from a professional tax advisor is highly recommended

Click here for more information about Taxes in the USA!

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