Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Job Hunting In A New Terrain...Patience Is A Virtue

It's fair to say, that when it comes to the process of visa applications, jumping through governmental hoops, relocating to a new and different country and even embarking on a brand new marriage, well these are all challenges beyond what most of us are accustomed too. What they don't tell you on the application forms however, is that once you are stateside and have been issued with the infamous, precious EAD (Employment Authorisation Document), that's when the real hard work, stresses and emotional strains begin.

Image: NanoPatentsandInnovations

The process of networking, transferring credentials and ultimately landing that 'dream' job here in the States, can certainly be an exhaustive one.

  • Who do you use as references when everyone who can account for your strong work ethic is back in your home country (and let's face it, companies don't exactly prefer calling long distance or facing language barriers to verify your credentials!)
  • How do you face the over qualified/under qualified conundrum without those references or locals who can account for you?

In my experience (and I am at this time still a job hunter, but have landed a few P/T and seasonal offers plus a few interviews to boot), this is stress inducing and at times truly disheartening BUT not impossible by any means! Now I did have a small advantage when I moved over here, in the form of previous paid employment and unpaid internship experience in the USA (namely Summer Camp and a University placement I did in my third year, here in Knoxville) so I mustered up a few old friends to count as my US professional references. This is something however that anyone can acquire. In total I spent 6 months being paid in the USA and 6 months working for free, in order to gain this experience. If you're finding yourself in need of a 'way in' then volunteering or interning is an excellent starting point to getting your foot in the door.

Now, I understand that not everyone has the time or the financial resources to be able to offer their time for free. While you are waiting those 3-4 months for your EAD to be approved however, you may find this a great time to give unpaid work experience a go and make some local contacts on the way. I will admit that during this time I got stuck into everything I could, both to network and to keep my boredom at bay. For me volunteering at my Church and with local charities gave me the boost of confidence I needed and let potential hirers know I was looking. I was very vocal about my immigration status and my looming job hunt and this paid of for me. I have actually gotten 2 (dream job!) interviews so far on the back of local volunteering and I know that my name has been circulating.

Image: gethiredbootcamp.com

My advice for standing out whilst volunteering? Approach the people in charge, let them know your skills and offer them your help including in areas where you have trained. For me this meant doing some extra Admin work for a charity in my spare time. I never dreamed it would invoke a job interview 3 months down the line, but I was remembered and it did. Plus I got to hone my skills Stateside, added to my resume and gained another US referee! Be genuine and sincere with your time though, if you are serving with a charity do it because you are blessed with the time to spare and simply trust that your work ethic and your approachability will allow you to shine to those who need to see it!

I hate to say it but now is the time to be prepared to take work that is under your skill set. Sometimes relocation means starting again in our careers, as well as in our personal lives and although (thankfully!) this is not the case for everyone, for many it truly is. Take a step back and reassess your skills, your professional joys and your passions. This may be the time to take a leap into something new or to reignite your love for the profession you entered into.

Later on I will talk a bit about transferring University qualifications but until then best of luck to all you job hunters! Go get 'em!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a true professional! And I definitely agree with your point. It is good to spend your time wisely while waiting for a job call. For one, you can use the time to learn a new skill that could be useful to your future job. Also, you can build connections and know people that can help you with your employment search.

    [Rupert Echard]