How to find a job in the US

Finding open positions online (or offline) is only the very first step; the next one is to actually connect with real people who can help you get an interview. What else do you have to consider while looking for a job in the US? We have some tips for you, so you can kick off with lots of motivation. 

Where do I start looking for a job?

As an HR manager, I know both sides of the employment market. Six years ago, when I moved to the US, I searched and found a job, and now I am one of the people who advertise new positions and screen resumes.

But where to start looking for a job? It depends on where you live when your job search starts. And it also depends on how connected you are socially and/or within your branch because there is one thing that you should never underestimate when you are looking for a job in America: word of mouth. Personal recommendations alone might not get you a job, but they often give you the chance to get an interview which is your chance to prove how valuable you are.

If you still live outside of America but want to make sure that a job is waiting for you when you arrive in your new life, the major job search websites would probably be your first go-to. Although I don’t think that you would actually find a job just by applying on jobs online, they will give you a good overview of what is available on the job market and that might inspire you to look at specific companies that could have the potential to become your new employer.

Check the major websites for vacant job offers


If you have already moved to the US and you are limited to a certain area, you can also check the major job search engines, but I would strongly recommend also checking local agencies, or websites that offer a local marketplace for jobs, too.

And never forget that having people who endorse you would raise your chances of at least getting an interview. Talk to as many people as possible and let them know what you are looking for. And use social media as much, but also as cleverly as possible in order to get a “foot in the door” on a job opening.

What are the best job search websites?

Maybe you are one of the lucky people who don’t have any preferences about where they want to live in the US. You don’t care what the best state would be for you to live in as long as you find a good job and can fulfill your dream of living in America.

There are so many more job posting websites but you should really take a look at the following:




One of the biggest job search websites. The kind of boring design is very user friendly and easy to understand. Results come quickly.

- Mobile app.

- Connects to millions of websites.

Besides being an excellent search engine this website also offers a lot of additional info and data about companies, salaries to support you in your search.

- Mobile app

- Millions of company reviews, CEO approval ratings, salary reports, interview reviews and questions

This is a huge job board, not a job search engine. That means that provides job listings that are directly posted by companies.

- Resume posting
- Career advice to job seekers, salary reports
 - Partnered with many newspapers to link to their job postings.

Monster is one of the first job search websites and grew to be one of the biggest. 

- Resume posting

- Career advice to job seekers

Offers access to a database of more than a million verified positions from nationwide employers but especially from state agencies. If you are interested in a government job, you should start your search here.

- Connects to state and federal job postings

This is not only a search engine for jobs but also for internship and volunteer positions.

- Offers postings primarily for the non-profit job marked

This seems to be THE social network to stay connected with the business world in the U.S.

- This is social media. No need to say more.

Official website of the United States government for federal jobs.

- Working for the government provides many benefits and a great job security

The leading search engine for tech job seekers

- Career advice
- Tech news

But you should know that career coaches recommend not spending too much time on job websites. Only 10 percent of your job searching time should be dedicated to searching and applying for jobs online. The rest of your time should be used for researching companies and meeting people offline.

How do I find a position locally?

If you have to look locally for a position, the aforementioned websites would be helpful for you, too. They all provide functions that include a location search. It all depends on what kind of a job you are looking for. If you just want to start somewhere, because you need money, like, right now, you should go to all the stores in your area (e.g. Walmart, Hannaford, Shaws, etc.) and ask for their job openings. Usually these are low-paid jobs (register, packing, etc.), often only part-time and without benefits, but they are a great start for a new immigrant who has to build up a resume for future employers in the U.S.

But maybe you should first familiarize yourself with how Americans apply for jobs in general. It helps to visit a couple classes about what a resume should look like and what behavior and clothes are appropriate to wear for an interview. Remember, even if we Europeans think we are familiar with the American culture, there might be some differences you weren’t aware of.

For example: Don’t attach a photo to your resume or mention your birth date anywhere. In the U.S. anti-discrimination laws are strong and information about race, age, religion, etc. should not appear on your job application. This is supposed to help hiring managers make their decisions only on job relevant information.

This is what you need to do to find a job locally:

  • Determine what purpose your job has: is it just meant to give you a start in your new home country or can you provide the necessary certificates to get higher paying jobs?
  • Use this link and find your closest job center.
  • These centers offer free classes for residents on all kinds of topics like: writing resumes and cover letters; how to search for jobs online; classes on all MS Office programs. They are a good source for all kinds of information and the people are usually very eager to help.
  • Take a look at the local Craigslist website. More than 700 cities and areas in 70 countries have Craigslist sites. This is a good start to finding a variety of local job offerings that might not need specific degrees.
  • offers a job website for every state.
  • Go to the big stores in your area. They offer low-paying jobs but there are always openings, especially before Thanksgiving and Christmas. And they are usually very open about hiring foreigners – even if their English is not yet perfect.
  • Apply at least at two local employment agencies.
  • Accept “temp to hire” positions

One word about employment agencies:

Be careful when you apply at employment agencies: don’t agree to pay any fees to an agency. That could be a sign that this company only wants to rip you off. Respectable agencies get all their fees paid by the companies where you are placed.

And accept all offered positions even if they might only last a few days. This is a good way for you to build up an American resume. And grab any “temp to hire” position you can get. For companies this is a risk free and uncomplicated way to look for new employees and to try them out without being legally compromised if the new employee should not be a good fit.

Pros and cons of employment agencies:



Access to jobs not posted anywhere else

Danger of getting ripped off by scam agencies

Easy way to build a resume in the U.S.

Might only offer short term jobs

Chances to make new professional connections

Often low paying jobs

“temp to hire” positions might lead to real employment


Don’t forget to network

Don’t forget that finding a job in the U.S. is very often a result of having the right kind of relationship. Word of mouth, mostly, works better than the best resume.

But how do you network if you are new in a country or might not even live there yet?

That is exactly what social media is for. Facebook can help, but LinkedIn is really big here. Everyone I have met in my professional life is on LinkedIn. Although people don’t seem to be very active there, it seems to be absolutely necessary to have an updated profile and resume that can be easily found by potential employers.

Establishing a profund network in the US, helps you finding a job.


The websites, especially, provide a lot of information about companies and even about employees in that company. Try to connect with them.

And ask friends to find friends who have friends in that area or in that branch where you are looking for a job. Even very distant acquaintances could be helpful for you to get your resume moved to the top of the pile of an HR manager and to get an interview.

What do I need to find a job?

You actually don’t need many documents to FIND a job. All you need is a good resume with a cover letter and good skills to get an interview.

But as soon you get a job offer, the paperwork starts. In order to GET the job you will need:

  • Usually the contact information for at least three English speaking references (important: interested employers will call them if they really want you)
  • Work permit (work visa or green card)
  • Social security number (usually comes with the work permit)
  • Valid passport
  • Driver’s license (not only proves that you can drive a car, but mainly serves as proof of residence)

How I found work in the States

I did exactly what I described in this post. When I arrived, I had to wait for my work permit. My first six months in the U.S. were kind of lazy, but this time gave me the opportunity to visit classes at the local job service center and the adult education center and to familiarize myself with American keyboards and software programs. I applied at Bonney’s Staffing Center and they tested me thoroughly in order to determine my skills. (I sucked at the dictation part. The English keyboard is slightly different than the German keyboard and I constantly hit wrong letters which counted, of course, as mistakes).

But I did not get a job through sending out my applications via websites or through the temp agency. In the end, it was my new network that put me into the lucky position to decide between two job offers.

One job offer was at the University of Maine for data entry. I got that interview because my father-in- law had a friend who had connections to that department (a friend of a friend of a friend).

The second job offer came from a small start-up company. A friend worked there and she told me that they were looking for a bookkeeper. I got an interview and I chose to start my professional life in the U.S. with this company.   

I was in the lucky position to have my husband’s network available. But that doesn’t mean that you have to marry in order to get a good network working for you. I know of several Germans who managed to find jobs on their own, but through making connections, connections, connections.