Cultural Differences Securing a Job in the US vs in Other Countries

Estimated Time to Completion: 

30 minutes

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Naturally, there are a lot of cultural differences when it comes to the job market in the US vs in other countries. Due to the highly competitive job market right now, it is vital that you are aware of these differences as you begin your job search. We are here to help break down the do’s and don’ts of getting a job here:

DO: Engage in self-promotion

  • You must be confident in discussing your goals and accomplishments and be assertive in making your case, initiating calls and following up with all contacts

  • Difference: This might be a big cultural difference for you if you come from a culture where talking about your accomplishments is seen as boastful or self-serving. This is common in many Asian or Middle-Eastern cultures.

DO: Be direct when you communicate

  • In business, people expect open and direct questions and answers, and a firm handshake, eye contact and a confident, but relaxed posture. If these are uncomfortable for you, practice with American friends before the interview.

  • Difference: In other cultures direct eye contact with those of higher status (bosses, etc.) might be perceived as disrespectful.

DO: Be ready for personal questions during an interview

  • Many cultures consider personal questions about likes and dislikes or strengths and weaknesses as an invasion of privacy by all except family and close friends. However, you will probably be asked to disclose along these lines in an interview. Preparing for these questions in advance should enable you to do this more comfortably.

  • Difference: Personal questions in other cultures are often considered an invasion of privacy.

DO: Be self-aware and knowledgeable about yourself and your future goals.

DO: Proofread all your resume and any emails you send to the company

  • Companies oftentimes will deny applicants if their resume has more than 5 typos because they perceive it as a “lack of interest in the company.”

DO: Attach your resume and cover letter as a PDF

  • Most companies prefer to view resumes as a PDF rather than a word document.

DO: Research the employer thoroughly.


DON’T: Attach a resume that is over a page

  • In today’s job market, resumes must be one page or less. If your resume is more than one page, remove the experiences that are not directly relevant to the position you are applying for

DON’T: Attach any personal photos to your application.

  • Due to a number of new anti-discrimination laws in the US, a company can actually be legally liable if an applicant attaches a photo. If you attach a picture to your resume, the company will likely not even look at it.

DON’T: Be late.

  • Arrive 15-20 minutes before your scheduled interview

  • Americans are big sticklers on time. Being late is perceived as rude or offensive, and will not be looked upon fondly.

DON’T: Bring up politics during an interview

  • The nation is extremely polarized and political party affiliation can be a taboo topic during an interview. It is recommended that you don’t bring up any political beliefs during the interview itself.

DON’T: Use an obscure resume format

  • Although it is good to be creative, nowadays, most big companies are using AI technology to scan applicant resumes due to the high volume of resumes they receive. It is vital that you try to mimic common resume formats in order to make sure your resume isn’t thrown out by the software. See Lesson 10 for more information.

  • Look up “Resume ATS Scanner” on Google to see if your resume passes. Here is a website that can help you.

DON’T: Mention salary in the initial interview (there are exceptions to this rule)

  • A recruiter is always looking for someone who is passionate about the work, duties, responsibilities, and the company itself. They don’t like applicants who are just there for a “good salary.” Even if this may be the case, make sure it doesn’t come across like that to the company!

Source: University of Michigan International Center

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No project for this lesson!


In the next lesson we will be covering everything you need to know about the most popular job search platform--Linkedin. Linkedin is so popular that companies will often use your profile in place of your resume! It is a must-have if you are looking for a job in the US. We will help you create the perfect profile!