How To Get A Full-Time Job As An Immigrant, When The Odds Seem Stacked
Finding a full-time, corporate job as an immigrant can be really discouraging. Here's some hacks I used to get ahead.
You've probably heard a ton of stories of highly-educated immigrants working in pink-collar trades, rather than practicing their profession, because to put it simply—no one would hire them. It's demoralizing and it's a problem.
Lacking college peers that could refer you, your network as a more recently-arrived immigrant is almost nonexistent. Having a degree from a university in a foreign country employers have never heard of, doesn't help. Recognizing these disadvantages, it will be hard for you to convince yourself that you have an edge.
I, too, have been asked to keep my feet on the ground and to not expect too much when applying for a corporate job, due to these reasons. I've been informed I wasn’t a special snowflake, despite being qualified, eager and highly capable. I have something to bring to the table. So do you.
My first six months in the USA were tough. I was a barista, intern, and a freelancer (yes, all at the same time) while struggling to find a fulltime job. It's was difficult, but I didn't stop.
Then in my seventh month in the States, I was hired as a communications associate and then, I got promoted to communications coordinator two months after. With this job, I was able to attend Cannes Lions Festival and to travel to different states in the US while working.
But that success clearly didn't come overnight. The behind the scenes were not pretty. It took time to convince myself I could do it and to make my resume, and my brand, legit.
I’ve listed the three main hacks that worked for me when I was on a job hunt as a new immigrant. Maybe they'll work for you too.
Utilize your online presence
According to a CareerBuilder survey, 35 percent of employers are less likely to interview applicants they can’t find online. Why? Employers want to stalk you! These days, selecting the right candidate for a job is made so much easier by investigating more about them on social media. Use your online presence to show off your portfolio and interests.
If you have social media, you have a personal brand. Who you are on social media is an extension of yourself. Embrace that. Your social media accounts should be a great outlet to showcase your passion, portfolio, and wit—everything you care about.
Pitch to online publications
I honestly thought it was just one of many options when it comes to impressing employers, but surprisingly, it is one of the questions employers frequently ask: Do you have published work? Where can I read it?
It doesn't need to be as great as a New Yorker article, but a published article (or simply a blog post on Medium or LinkedIn directly relating to employment) will add some value to your resume. Yes, even if you're not in media.
Lastly— and I say this bitterly, because it's not fair—publishing words online let's employers know you can communicate well in the English language. You don't need me to remind you to the ignorance out there, when it comes to stereotypes around language proficiency.
Have a blog or a website
It can be basic, but it should contain all the information you want hiring managers and employers know about you. This will help you differentiate yourself from other job seekers. It's a chance for you to show your uniqueness, passion, and commitment to work. There are thousands of applicants out there. What’s your story? And don't be afraid to get a little personal.
As Dave Kerpen puts it, “As scary and impersonal as the internet and blogging may feel, it’s your ability to be your honest, vulnerable, unique self that provides the biggest opportunity to stand out. There are over 100 million blogs in the world, but there’s just one that has the distinct, unique voice that you have: Yours.”
Find paid internships
If you are pressed for time and pressured to get a paid job stat, this could be a good alternative to waiting for a fulltime job offer. The chance of getting accepted for paid internships is way higher compared to a full-time job.
These internships also give you an opportunity to out-perform and impress people—and that will lead to an excellent reference, if not a job offer.
Apply for the job you want
Honestly. Don't sell yourself too short. What job would you apply for, if you didn’t leave your home country? Set aside your doubts. Apply for the job you really want, even you feel like the applicant pool will be really competitive.
Hiring managers who write job postings want to entice people to apply, as well as ward off those who wouldn’t qualify for an interview. But that doesn't mean you wouldn't. Always remember that you can’t have the job you didn’t apply for. There’s no harm in applying. You’ve got a job to gain, if you’ve got enough nerve. Apply!
There will be a lot of naysayers. Remove yourself from that group. America is huge and while there are very real disadvantages out there, there's also a lot of opportunities for people who want to find, and make them. It doesn’t matter where you came from—what matters is what you can bring to the table. Own your story.
Words: Erika Sabalvoro
Photo: Daria Kobayashi Ritch