Updated: Jun 15
“I have a long career gap and now I don’t even know where to start!”
“Who will hire me after a 6-year career break!?”
“Motherhood and Visa issues didn’t let me work and now I feel it's too late to look for work all over again. Plus I don't even enjoy my field of work.”
If you’re an Immigrant in the US, who has gone through these phases and is looking for guidance to start, re-start or switch careers - you are not alone!
I felt alone and completely lost when I wanted to re-start my career in Marketing after moving to the US. The majority of the folks I knew were in IT and I really wished for legitimate guidance from someone who’s been through the journey and help me not make those mistakes. Well, I didn’t find one and it took me 7 months and 280 job applications later to land a full-time job. When I figured it all out, I decided to pass on this knowledge by mentoring and coaching Immigrant women to restart their careers in the USA. Today I’m sharing a 5 step plan to re-enter the job market in the USA which has helped hundreds of Immigrant women mentees and YOU are next!
To read more about Anjali Nair and the Immigrant career platform, follow @adesigirlinus
5 steps to restart your career as an immigrant
1. Figure what do you want to do
This step may seem obvious to some and to others, it's the biggest mystery to solve. As easy as it sounds, figuring out WHAT you want to do involves you reflecting and answering WHY you want to do it. For instance, you’re a software developer by qualification AND you enjoy coding so you start looking for jobs in that field. But let’s say your educational background or previous work experience in that field did not inspire you - now you’re stuck thinking if you should pursue your passion or discover a new role altogether. This confusion is valid and more so when you’re in a country where you did not get educated and/or took an employment break.
Whenever someone comes to me with a Career Clarity issue I suggest writing down a list of your skills, interests, and strengths. Then I do extensive research to narrow down roles that suit you and you will enjoy working. You could also take the MBTI test or Career Explorer test or Career Strengths test if you wish to find a starting point. Of course, these tests also help with self-discovery and gives you a few options to research.
Here's a video version of the Guide as well. Please watch it on our YouTube channel and subscribe to it as well.
2. Fill in the gap by learning Hard Skills
Once you know what roles are best suited for you, you need to start reading the job descriptions of those roles to find out if you qualify for the requirements. If you’re missing any Hard/Technical Skills - it’s time for you to find out what is the best way to learn those skills. A few ways of developing Hard skills are:
Taking an online course
Attending live workshops
Writing tests or exams for certifications
Attending university or community college
Here's a Guide on Free Digital Marketing Certifications in the US and another one on Online Certifications for Data Analytics & Data Science
If you’re not completely certain which path to pick, the safest bet is to take an online free course and then commit to a paid platform. Education and Professional skills are better valued when you commit to them and paying a fee shows commitment and determination to learn. Please research before you sign up and beware of ‘free training’ that takes a lump sum from you after you land a job.
3. Increase confidence by enhancing Soft skills
This is a step that often gets overlooked and undermined. Soft skills like effective communication, time management, teamwork, problem-solving, decision-making - are learned only through real-life experience, on the job. One of the best ways to feel confident about re-entering the job market and kick-starting your career in USA is by Volunteering. If you’re new to this term and why I recommend it as a MUST-DO before you begin your career - please read this.
You can also read our acclaimed Guide on Volunteering Options in the US
Here are a few websites that have plenty of remote and in-person Volunteering opportunities that you can pick based on the skills you want to sharpen.
4. Hire a Career Coach or Job Search Strategist
Do you remember taking an aptitude test and meeting a Career counselor back in high school to figure out which path to pick as your career? I always thought one needs to hire a Career Coach only when you’re super confused or have a hard time finding jobs. I began mentoring Immigrant women because over the years spent in the US job market, I was able to crack the code and I wanted to teach my Immigrant community how to land a job. This helped over 500 women to get interview calls, get LinkedIn makeovers, revamped Resumes, access to secret job portals, and mock interview practice! Working with a good coach or mentor reduces your time of unemployment by half and gives you a 500% return on Investment.
I regret not having found a related role model or career mentor. But now there are numerous coaches, mentors, and job search strategists out there happy to guide and support you. You must consider working with one especially if you’re new to the job market, are trying to get back to work after a break or you’re having a hard time landing a job despite trying everything. Most Career coaches offer first free consultation as well because it is important for both parties to gain trust and vet each other.
If you’d like to speak to Anjali regarding your career in USA, you can reach out to her by filling out this form
5. Build your professional network
When I was looking for a job, one piece of advice I got from Americans was to go to networking events and make connections in the area. It made sense because as Immigrants we don’t have our professional ‘contacts’ or ‘references’ that could lead us to new job opportunities. Networking does not mean meeting a bunch of people and exchanging business cards. It means building professional relationships over time that seem organic, genuine, and a 2-way street.
I highly suggest you build your profile on LinkedIn and start connecting with professionals who hold the title you desire along with hiring managers and recruiters of your dream companies. The aim is to build a network for yourself who would refer you to their organization when a role opens up. Getting ‘referred’ is the best way to get yourself an interview which in itself is a herculean task if you just apply online. I remember my first job was a result of a networking event and ever since I’ve spent time growing my network of +1000 professionals in USA. This allows me and my mentees access to job opportunities and accessibility to further mentorship.
If you’d like to learn how to best utilize LinkedIn and get access to a toolkit of resources to restart your career - Click here
To conclude, a career break or restarting a career in a new country is now made possible. Go ahead and take that first step! Our Immigrant community, career mentors, and job search resources are available to make this an easier and faster process.
Tell me in the comments if this guide was helpful and which step are you on at the moment!