5 Obstacles Immigrants Face In Job Hunting And How to Overcome Them

As a new immigrant arriving in a foreign country, it can be tough to get your foot in the door unless you are someone with an advanced degree and in a high demand profession. More and more jobs typically go to citizens first, but there are certainly ways for you to stand out and get the job you want. If you know what barriers you might face and have the right person to coach you, you will be much better prepared to land the job you like.

Below are some of the obstacles you as an immigrant are likely to face. Some of these go away with the passage of time and once you have few jobs under your belt but some may remain with you for a long time and may require you to prepare every time you apply for a new job.

The first obstacle is knowing how to find jobs that might accept immigrants.

A lot of companies these days are unwilling to hire people without a permanent resident or citizenship status as is evident from the questions being asked on practically every job application.

Job search can be difficult as a lot of immigrants do not know where to start when looking for a job, let alone find a job that would be willing to accept an immigrant. They also have no idea of how to target those companies where they have a better chance of getting hired. This is due to a lack of knowledge about the American job market, the right job platforms or resources to find jobs as well as not knowing how to research. Also with limited number of people in their network in the US, a lack of local work experience, finding a job can take a long time and be frustrating.

The way to overcome this is for you to learn which sources are most effective for immigrants, target the right companies and then quickly build a network of people who can help you. Google and LinkedIn can be great resources for this research. A career coach can also help if you do not know how to go about it.

The second obstacle is knowing how to showcase your foreign experience or qualifications as relevant and gain local experience quickly.

Not having US qualifications and experience can be an obstacle for many people. Employers not always acknowledging the education and experience in the foreign country makes it difficult to prove that you have the skills required for the job.

I have found that getting an educational evaluation done from a recognized US body can help, especially if you are planning to do higher studies in the US at some point. It can also be handy in case your employment background check comes back with a concern that you do not meet the educational qualifications of the job.

Building the resume by following the US style of resume creation, keeping in mind the applicant tracking systems that may filter out your resumes if it does not have the right keywords and finding the right language to highlight accomplishments in your country of origin as relevant in the US is the next important thing you need to work on. Writing a cover letter showcasing the value you will bring as a new immigrant to help the business and the advantages of hiring you can help distinguish you amongst other applicants. Finally making sure you have the right LinkedIn profile that promotes your brand is also critical these days as LinkedIn has become the platform of choice for the recruiters.

To get local experience, research the industry you want to work in and find out what experience is required. Secondly, volunteer or intern in that industry to gain the experience you need. Not only will it provide you with the experience you need but may also help you build a network of people to help with your job search. Also work on highlighting your skills that are transferrable to a new job.

The other thing to consider is to get one or more certifications in the area you want to find a job. In the absence of local qualifications those are the best ways for you to build credibility in the minds of the potential employers about your capability.

The third obstacle could be discrimination in the hiring process.

The third obstacle immigrants may face is discrimination in the hiring process, even if they are qualified for the job. This discrimination can be hidden or unintentional, so you may not even know that it is happening. This makes it more difficult for you to gain employment and could lead to frustration. Some of the ways this can get manifested are a lack of response to your application or not hearing back from recruiters after the first interview.

The good news is that there are more companies looking for people with diverse experience these days and recruiters of those companies may even have a goal of finding, attracting and hiring a certain number of diverse candidates. So in other words such jobs do exist but it boils down to your ability as a job seeker to find out about such employers so that your chances of securing a job can increase.

Making sure you are not giving out unnecessary information on your resume and LinkedIn profile that gives out your age, origin, etc. are other things to keep in mind.

The fourth obstacle immigrants may face in job hunting is cultural barriers.

This can include not getting too far in the hiring process or not getting jobs because of you coming across in interviews as a cultural misfit. This could be because of the perception that you do not understand the American culture, have. a different communication style, or may not have the same work ethic.

It’s important to ask for help and assistance in first understanding and then navigating these cultural differences. Some of the ways to do that are:

  • Research and learn about local culture, rules, and customs through popular magazines, online sources, or friends and family.

  • Watch English-language movies and TV shows, and read the subtitles to improve your understanding of not only the spoken language but the accent.

  • Try to learn about the local sports, events and develop an interest in a few. This can be a good topic of conversation during your interactions with others.

  • Get involved with the local community and its activities.

The fifth obstacle is not having the correct documentation.

One of the other reason why immigrants fail to land jobs is because they don’t have the correct documentation or are transparent about what they do not have with the recruiters at the beginning. This may cause unnecessary delay later in the hiring process and sometimes rescinded offers. To avoid this from happening, please always ask the recruiter at the very beginning what documents are needed and make sure you have all your visa papers, work authorization status, personal id, transcripts, certificates, and other requisite documents available.


Job hunting can be difficult for many immigrants. Despite the obstacles that immigrants face in the job hunt, there are ways to overcome them. In this article, we discussed some of the obstacles that an immigrant may face in job hunting and how to overcome them through research and professional guidance from an expert coach.

Please feel free to share your experiences below so that others too can benefit from those.

About Kaushik

Kaushik Nag is a career coach with an immigrant background who has helped hundreds of candidates find jobs and grow in their careers by helping them overcome these obstacles and more.

His website www.careerresumecoach.com has more information about the services he offers. He has been a senior HR, Recruiting and Business executive for multiple global companies over the past 30 plus years. Having led large recruiting teams and hired thousands of candidates across multiple industries he knows exactly what companies are looking for and where they are sourcing for talent and leverages that knowledge to coach people looking for jobs or career growth for a successful outcome.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top