Settling in New York can be a long process, and although networking is king here, you should not wait until you put down your bags to let the job hunt begin.
Unless you have a company in your home country or somewhere else in the States that offers to transfer you to New York and takes care of everything, you will most likely need to be in town to nail a job. But being an active job hunter in the City comes with limited time. As if the expensive price of life wasn’t enough, we foreigners are only allowed to stay 3 months on a tourist visa before being sent back to our mama’s crib!
That’s why applying to jobs online prior to your arrival seems like the smart thing to do. When I decided to come back to New York as a working girl and no longer an exchange student, I still had a lot to wrap up back home. So in parallel with writing my thesis and getting my degree, I was sending applications via Monster.com, or Simplyhired.com – which are by the way very messed up names for employment websites. It sounds like one is brutally honest and the other straight up delusional. Spoiler alert: there is nothing simple about looking for a job in 2014, especially not in this city. The only way “simple” could belong to New York hiring process was if someone came up with a new expression.
On Barney Stinson’s behalf, I would describe job hunting in Manhattan as “impossimple”: there’s no way in hell it’s gonna be easy! At least Monster is honest about the personality of most employers ignoring the cover letters you spent hours writing and making you feel like a failure. But back to my story. I really thought that sending resumes from France would help me line up dozens of interviews by the time I get to New York. Little did I know…
In three months, I must have sent over 100 applications, and got one answer. Not three or two; just one! What’s even more depressing is that it was from the American branch of a company I had already worked for in France. So that barely counts, because getting back to me was the least they could do.
Now, New Yorkers at heart, I don’t mean to discourage you…quite the opposite actually. I want my epic fails to make you strong and prepared. One of the mistakes I made was to be very transparent about my situation in cover letters: a French girl passionate about New York who will be the perfect fit…as long as you sponsor her for a visa. By always trying to justify myself for wanting to move to the States, I lost focus on what truly mattered: I was more than qualified and motivated to get where I wanted to be.
Here’s the deal: applying online isn’t the best way to get you in front of the right people. It’s only when I came back to New York that things finally started happening for me. Sending resumes and touching cover letters is a total waste of time, unless you make it the phase one of an elaborated master plan. That’s the only way it can be efficient. Not just because it’s good practice, but because it will make you angry. And you need that hustler anger in order to move to phase two. But I’m getting ahead of myself!
So work on your resume, cover letters and portfolio…but don’t forget to book tickets to New York because your presence here is worth a thousand applications.