Advice by Dan Beaudry, Author of Power Ties

Do you need a visa to do a job in U.S.?

Do you want a job in the U.S.? You can get one. And my first recommendation towards getting it is to forget (for a while) that you need a visa. Winning a job in the U.S. is much more about motivating a company to want you than immigration rules and company policies.  Most senior managers (and experienced recruiters) will tell you that if an organization wants to hire someone badly enough, they don’t let immigration paperwork, or company policies against sponsoring, stand in their way. For them, their new hire represents revenue generated, expenses cut, or important problems solved: all of which are well worth the inconvenience of sponsorship. This is why I tell international students, and others hoping to secure U.S. employment, that their orientation MUST be value first and visa second.

I’d like to share with you some specific things that you can do to put this orientation into practice, but before I do, it’s probably useful for you to know who the heck I am! After many years in recruiting and working with international job seekers, I decided to write a book outlining the job search system that I’d seen regularly produce visa sponsorships. People have asked me why I wrote it, and the best answer is that people needed it. In fact, my wife needed it!  She is from Madrid and (prior to our marriage) found herself in much the same situation that many of you face: professional ambitions, settling into a foreign country, facing work visa barriers. Certainly, marrying an American smoothed her path to employment a bit. But I’ll assume none of you have been driven to contemplate that option at this stage!

Because I have a full-time job in sales, my book has been a side business of passion since its publication in 2009. But over the past four years, I’ve been squeezing in presentations to students and alumni at universities around the country—perhaps some of the schools your spouse attend (if you are on F2 visa). And one of the most important concepts I try to drive through is something that every sales person knows: don’t lead with your costs. Your visa represents an expense that your future employer will need to bear in order to hire you—an expense your employer would not face if he/she decided to hire an American. If you start your job search conversations asking employers if they ‘sponsor’ or not, you’ve made two mistakes: 1. You’ve given them a quick reason to screen you out of consideration if they don’t sponsor, 2. You’ve asked them to bear an extra cost without yet showing them what they get for it. Why should someone pay more for you? There may be very good reasons, but you’ve got to have a chance to articulate those reasons before you’re removed from consideration. This is why I say value first, visa (cost) second—always.

Here is a quick list of some other specific things to do or not do in your US job search.  There is obviously much more to be said on all of these:

– Determine, and become convinced of your value to an employer.  Ask yourself, would you hire you for the job you’re seeking?
– Conduct informational interviews with people who are doing what you’d like to be doing. This will help you better understand your value, and help build connections.
– Conduct informational interviews with other internationals who have followed the same path.
– Don’t ever ask for a job in an informational interview.
– Keep track of informational conversations you’ve had with people, and stay in touch with meaningful and customized follow up.
– Connect other people for their mutual benefit even when you stand to gain nothing.
– Don’t reach out to human resources unless you want a job in human resources.
– Don’t apply online unless asked to do so by someone who you think already want to hire you.
– Approach companies that aren’t on everyone’s target list.
– Speak for yourself instead of relying on a resume to do it for you.

There are many more elements to the job search system I outline in my book, but the most critical element of your U.S. job search will be your drive. If you have a burning desire to work in the U.S., I hope you’ll give yourself a chance to make it happen. That desire will motivate you to do things that your competition will find too uncomfortable (such as reaching out to people you don’t know for informational interviews.) If you are on F2 visa, have you considered that your spouse may be one of these competitors? Do you think a little friendly competition from you might motivate you both to work a little harder and reach a little higher? I would love to hear from any of you who get a U.S. job before your spouse!  Email me please!

I hope to post here again soon.  As I mentioned to Shruti, I have a one-year-old and a two-year-old that keep my life ‘full’—to which I’m sure many of you can relate. But until the next post, I’d invite you to take a look at some of the short postings on my blog, or to send me an email directly with any questions.  I respond to all emails—although it sometimes takes a day or two because of the aforementioned job and family!

Dan Beaudry


Dan Beaudry is the author of the book Power Ties: The International Student’s Guide to Finding a Job in the United States.

He was most recently the Campus Recruiting Manager for where he constructed and managed the company’s first formal university recruiting program, including the growth and management of Monster’s MBA Executive Development and Leadership program. Prior to joining Monster, Dan was the Associate Director of Corporate Recruiting for the Boston University School of Management where he developed the international student employment series.  Dan began his career in management consulting, and also spent time as a headhunter during the boom and bust. He now works in business development for two international organizations, providing career content and international relations software to the higher education industry.

Dan has been a guest speaker at events for the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the MBA Career Services Council, the HR Planning Society, the International Careers Consortium, the National Association of Asian MBA’s and many universities and business schools across the country.  He holds a BA from Vanderbilt University, an MA in International Relations from Boston University, and language certifications from La Sorbonne in Paris.  Dan now lives in Boston with his wife Elena (who is from Spain, and has been given more advice on her US job search than she ever asked for!).

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