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Job application in the USA

Are you applying for a job in the USA? Then you should first know all the rules and procedures in the American application process. Here are some helpful tips that will land you the job of your dreams in the States.

Job Requirements in the USA

Being the most popular country for expats and emigrants, the United States of America attracts millions of people worldwide every year. However, getting a work permit for the US is not easy.

You are allowed to take a job in the US under the following conditions:

  • You have a Green Card.
  • You are sponsored by a US employer and have a work visa for the USA.
  • You entered the US as a spouse of an E-visa or L-visa holder and have the appropriate endorsement (COA code) on your I-94 entry form.
  • Your employer back home sends you to a branch office in the US.
  • You are offered a summer job or internship in the US.


According to the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment in the United States in 2023 is at an all-time low since 1969! So it's the perfect time to apply for your dream job in the USA!

No work permit without a visa

Your new job in the USA depends on your visa. Therefore, to avoid wasting your or HR departments' time, take care of this first. You have the following options:

  • Participate in the Green Card Lottery to get an unlimited residency and work permit for the USA quickly and easily.
  • Apply specifically to companies with American branches. For a transfer to the USA, you might get an E-visa or L-visa later on.
  • With a university degree and skills in high demand in the USA, you can look for US employers who offer special H-1B visa jobs.

If you are applying for a job in the United States without a visa or Green Card, you must make this clear right upfront.

Green Card or US visa to work in the USA?

Holding a Green Card is the easiest way to be allowed to work in the USA. But also, with an E-visa, an L-visa, or an H-visa, you have a work permit for America.

The main differences between E-visa, L-visa, H-visa, and Green Card at a glance:

  E-visa + L-visa H-1B-visa Green Card
Employers only US branches of companies from your home country US companies with special needs in highly skilled and in-demand occupations free choice
Education requirements none university degree and years of professional experience none
Residence permit up to 7 years up to 9 years unlimited
Is job change possible without loss of visa? no yes yes

The application process in the USA

Once you have answered all your work permit questions, you are ready to dive into the American job market. Your path to a new job will include the following stages:

  • Searching for job ads
  • Preparing and sending out job applications
  • Attending job interviews
  • Follow-up correspondence
  • Feedback and job acceptance

Finding a job in the USA

Depending on the path you use to land your dream job in the USA, you will need to search for listings in special job categories. For example:

Wehen applying for a job in the USA ... Strategy
... with a university degree and a lot of work experience, use the keywords "H-1B" and "Sponsor" in job portals.
... in US branches of domestic companies, approach a job in your home country and ask for a transfer to the USA after one year.
... for summer jobs or internships, apply through organizations or universities.
… with a Green Card, there are no restrictions.

When looking for a job in the USA, you must show initiative! In addition to browsing job portals, you should expand your LinkedIn network, call companies, and maybe even attend a training session with USA business experts or English language trainers.

By reaching out to experts, peers, and potential employers, you'll become more familiar with the dynamics of the American business world and can practice your unbeatable "elevator pitch" even before your first interview.

Take your chance to win a Green Card! Apply now

Application documents in the USA

Once you have found a suitable job advertisement, you can compile your application documents. Stick to the required format exactly and weigh your details to fit the job.

Resume, CV, or curriculum vitae for the USA

The American resume is also called Curriculum Vitae or CV and usually consists of 1 - 3 pages (depending on your work experience). It is a chronological document that provides a clear, bullet-point overview of your career history.

Although the basic structure of the resume should always be the same, some smart designs can give you an edge over competitors. Build your American CV as follows:

Resume (CV) for a job in the USA
Header Name, job title, contact details
Column 1 Education, Skills, References
Column 2 Short bio (3 - 4 lines), Languages, Work Experience, Organizations, Honors and Awards, Conferences & Courses, Soft Skills, Volunteer Experience, Interests

When it comes to the American resume, less is more. Don't overdo it with your soft skills and leave out Interests, Volunteer Experience, or Awards if they have no connection with your professional skills or simply don't exist.

What shouldn't go on your American resume?

When writing your application for a job in the USA, be sure to omit any information that could serve as grounds for discrimination. This includes your marital status, age, gender identity, photograph, number of children, sexual orientation, religion, and ethnicity.

Cover letter in the USA

The American cover letter is designed to motivate your prospective employer to take a look at your resume. Choose a greeting that includes the recipient's name, such as "Dear Madeleine" or "Dear Mr. Smith." Alternatively, you can choose a greeting such as "Dear ABC Team."

Build the cover letter as follows:

Cover letter for a job in the USA
Header Name, job title, contact details
Column 1 Recipient name, address, date
Column 2 Greeting, motivation text, farewell, signature

In the text, briefly explain why you want the job and list how your future employer will benefit from hiring you. What problems will you solve? How will you skyrocket sales? What can your bosses look forward to when working with you?

Application USA Example

Download resume template

Transcripts, testimonials, and certificates

Transcripts, diplomas, references, work samples, and the like are usually only sent upon request when applying for a job in the USA - unless the job advertisement specifically asks for them. Prepare certified translations of all documents and also provide important work samples in English.

Job interview in the USA

After you have sent off your application for a job in the USA, it's time to wait. However, not as long as you might be used to. After 10 - 14 days, you will probably already have an interview invitation in your inbox.

Job interviews in the USA are normally structured into several stages. You might even have group interviews with other applicants, IQ tests, or exciting multiple-choice quizzes if you are lucky.

In a personal interview with the HR department and/or your future supervisor, you will quickly get to the point after a short small talk. Now it's time for hard facts: put figures and results on the table. Specific inquiries about future joint projects also make an impression

Dress code for a job interview in the USA

Dress in a formal, unpretentious manner. At your first meeting with your future employer, you no longer need to stand out with flashy, creative design but with poise and ability.

Extra tip: Before the interview, practice what you will do with your hands while speaking and listening because body language also plays a big role in deciding for or against an applicant.

Traveling to the USA for a job interview: Visa or ESTA?

If you are flying to the USA for a job interview, you can apply for an ESTA electronic travel authorization, which is faster, cheaper, and easier to obtain than a US visa.

How to behave when entering the country for a job interview

When traveling for a job interview, you must not under any circumstances raise suspicions of illegal immigration intent.

However, because there is no special visa category for job interviews in the USA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) false suspicions occur from time to time. In the worst case, an invited applicant is then denied entry. Therefore, we recommend some security measures for your entry:

#1. Combine your trip with a vacation and stay for a few days (or weeks).

For all questions, documents, and applications related to entering the USA, make it clear and have proof that you are coming for a vacation and will be leaving before your travel authorization expires.

#2. Do not mention your job application.

You are required to answer truthfully in the ESTA application. However, for the question, "Are you currently trying to obtain work in the United States?" it is not a lie if you check "no".

Why? Because the application has already taken place sometime before your ESTA application and you are now only flying in for contract negotiation. According to ESTA guidelines, this is permitted. However, you should not risk any misunderstandings.

#3. Do not keep application documents in your luggage.

During your entry into the United States, you will have to go through a security check and customs area, where your luggage may be searched as well. Certificates and references in your luggage might lead to false suspicions.

#4. Prepare for the talk with border officials.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer will ask you why you are traveling to the USA, where you will be staying, and what your plans are for your stay. When answering, focus on your planned vacation, sightseeing, road trips, or whatever you will enjoy doing in the US. Your job interview is irrelevant here and should not be mentioned for security reasons.

Follow-up when applying for a job in the USA

Haven't you received a reply to your application yet? Then write a short and friendly email and ask about the status of your application.

A thank-you note after the interview is also highly appreciated in the USA! About two days after the interview, thank the interviewer for the pleasant meeting, re-emphasize your motivation, and explain that you are looking forward to the upcoming decision.

Helpful tips and tricks for job applications in the USA

Our job applications 101 are guaranteed to put you ahead of your competitors:

  • Write all emails, letters, and work samples in American (not British) English.
  • Take a preparatory language course.
  • Learn the technical vocabulary for the job you are applying for.
  • Network with potential employers on LinkedIn and learn the faces and names of colleagues early on.
  • Follow the format guidelines for the American resume and the required application scope.
  • Do not list "English" under "Languages."
  • After the interview, ask for the interviewer's business card.
  • Don't forget the follow-up email and a thank you note after the interview.
  • Participate in the Green Card Lottery to quickly get an unlimited work permit for the USA. You will be much more popular with US employers with a Green Card.

Job acceptance in the USA

Have you received a contract offer for a job in the USA? Congratulations! Any details you didn't clarify in the interview will now be the subject of your contract negotiations.

Some facts about American employment contracts:

  • The written form of employment contracts is not mandatory in the USA. After the interview, conditions can instead be stipulated within a written job offer.
  • There are fixed-term and permanent, "full-time," and "part-time" contracts in the US.
  • There is no statutory vacation entitlement in the United States.
  • The various US states have different minimum wages.
  • There is no legal protection against dismissal in the USA.
  • So-called "benefits" can compensate for a lack of security and lower wages.

Before signing a contract, learn in detail about available benefits, such as health insurance through the employer, pension contracts, life insurance, overtime regulations, and individual vacation arrangements, and negotiate with confidence.

Talk about visa and relocation process issues, sick days agreements, notice periods, probationary periods, and any warranties with an employment attorney who specializes in the USA.

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