4 Job Search Essentials Every Immigrant Must Know

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People from all over the world clamor to secure gainful employment in the United States and Canada. However, competition is fierce, and both countries favor domestic applicants (citizens and permanent residents). As an immigrant seeking employment in the United States or Canada, do you know the ins and outs of looking for a job abroad? Besides the typical tasks involved in this process, there are a few additional things that might differ from those in your home country. 

Below are four tips to help you reach your career goals in North America. Of course, the number one necessity in any job search is a top-notch resume. If you want a professionally crafted one to increase your chances of landing a job, check out our resume writing services.

1. Make sure you order a credential evaluation

It's important to have a credential evaluation before you start your job search in North America. This document compares how the degree or education you received abroad compares to those obtained in the United States or Canada. Unfortunately, educational standards aren’t the same around the world, and U.S. and Canadian employers may not recognize some degrees earned in certain countries, particularly in highly technical fields such as law and medicine. 

A credential evaluation helps hiring managers understand better your experience abroad so that they can review your application without a bias in favor of local candidates. Do keep in mind that labor laws often allow a company to look abroad for employees only if it can’t find suitable help domestically, so your credentials should be even better than those of the local applicants.

Don't wait for a recruiter to ask if you have a credential evaluation. Instead, be proactive. Show them you're prepared for a job in a new country by submitting proof that you have a credential evaluation when you apply for work. You should also bring it to job interviews. Think of it as another document in your application package alongside your resume and cover letter.

You can apply for a credential evaluation online through the non-profit organization World Education Services (WES), which provides you with a list of required documents and walks you through the process step by step.  

2. Get ahead with a stackable credential

Once you land in North America, think about getting a stackable credential to get ahead of the game. These are short courses you can complete within a few weeks and are like building blocks toward a degree. You get a certificate each time you finish a course, which you can then list on your resume to boost your educational accomplishments. The great thing about these credentials is that you can take a few courses and stop whenever you want, or you can stack them together to help you earn a degree.

This form of continued education makes you a more attractive candidate to hiring managers. An example is when someone with an international degree in marketing adds a stackable credential in advertising. It's a good way to stand out from the competition. Not only are you building onto your existing knowledge and expertise, but you’re also immersing yourself in local education, potentially offsetting the demerits of an international degree as well as demonstrating your commitment to lifelong learning. Ultimately, earning stackable credentials can help you more than you might think.

3. Network with as many people as possible

You can't rely solely on job boards to find open positions. Sometimes a company may be looking to fill a vacancy but doesn't advertise it. That's where your network comes in. Tell as many people as possible that you're on the job market and what type of position you're seeking. A friend or a former colleague may know of an opening where they work or may have heard of a position somewhere else. If you can get a recommendation from someone already working at a company you want to join, you can dramatically increase your standing since employers put a lot of stock into employee endorsements.

To get even more networking mileage, consider attending local job fairs or industry gatherings to meet new people. Even if you don’t directly land a job this way, expanding your network can open up all sorts of other opportunities. Plus, this is a good way to establish relationships in a new country and learn more about the local language and culture, which will definitely help your new career in North America. 

Also, don't forget about LinkedIn—it's a vast pool of friends and colleagues you can reconnect with and a great place to find out about open positions.

4. Prepare for the job interview well in advance

Don't wait until you secure a job interview to start preparing for it. Get a head start to save yourself time and stress. Research common interview questions and practice your answers out loud, maybe even roleplay with a friend if you can. That will boost your confidence and prepare you better for the actual interview. 

Ample practice in advance is especially important if English isn’t your first language—you need to make sure you understand what the interviewer is asking, and you want to deliver your answers smoothly and confidently, with minimal grammatical mistakes. Minor errors are fine—the interviewer will understand that you’re not a native English speaker—but you don’t want to leave them confused.

You should also research the company before the interview so that you can arrive armed with thoughtful questions that show you're truly interested in working for this employer. The more knowledge you can demonstrate about the company, the more passionate you’ll appear, and employers love passion. If you need help preparing for the interview, check out our mock interview services.

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