Finding a Job Is Tough for Everyone—But It’s Especially Hard if You Are an Immigrant

Finding a job is tough. For everyone. But it’s especially hard if you are an immigrant. Numerous immigrants come to Philadelphia as adults, leaving a thriving professional career in their home countries. When they arrive here, they have to face many barriers for their everyday lives such as understanding and being understood in English, understanding the U.S. bureaucracy and the need to sustain themselves. Most of them do not come here with enough resources to live months without a job, this is why you end up being served coffee by an engineer or driven around by an accountant. And with all of this going on, they still are hoping to find a job that matches their skills. But it’s tough. Most of the skills you need to navigate the U.S. job market are different than in other countries.

Back when I was in France, I had to include my picture, my marital status, and my hobbies in my resume. And it is the same in many countries. Imagine the face of an American recruiter when they receive such a resume. It’s not enough to just translate the resume you have from your country, but it’s information you need to learn. Just like the importance of networking, there are differences in job interview skills and the U.S. workplace culture.

We need the business community of Philadelphia to be more aware of the immigrant talent that is right here.

This is why the program I work for, the International Professionals Program (IPP), exists. Last week, we started our new – virtual – cohort of IPP with twelve participants. They are from 10 different countries going from Albania to Sudan to Venezuela and from very diverse background ranging from civil engineering to translation/interpretation. They all have at least a bachelor’s degree and most of them have extensive experience from their home countries. Just like most immigrants looking for work in this country, they do not need sponsorship and can work for any company that gives them a chance. Most of them are self-conscious about their English and are still taking classes to improve their level, even though their English is for some, better than mine. This is why, when you hear someone struggling in English, don’t judge them for that, judge them for the efforts they are making and for the effort and the courage you need to start everything all over again in a new country. This is why we need the business community of Philadelphia to be more aware of the immigrant talent that is right here.

Zoom IPP Orientation on 9/15 with participants, volunteers, and staff

We can all do our part in being open to share our networks to immigrant professionals.

To reach this goal, the Welcoming Center, in partnership with the Office of Workforce Development of the city of Philadelphia launched the Engaging Immigrant Talent initiative. We are looking to identify and promote best practices amongst employers and HR professionals who are investing in Philadelphia’s immigrant talent. This goal of the initiative is to advance immigrant workforce integration, at all skill and education levels and across industry sectors. It builds on the existing citywide workforce strategy that aims to prepare Philadelphians for today’s jobs and tomorrow’s economy. It is supported by a $242,000 grant from the World Education Services (WES) Mariam Assefa Fund.

We can all do our part in being open to share our networks to immigrant professionals. We should also remind ourselves that if it is hard to thrive in the U.S. as an immigrant professional, imagine how difficult it is for immigrants who are not.

To learn more about our initiative, please read our press release.

To get involved in the initiative, please contact us here.


This blog article was written by Ben Goebel, Program Manager at the Welcoming Center’s International Professionals Program (IPP). Learn more about workforce development at the Welcoming Center.
Are you interested in learning more about IPP and joining the program? Learn more and apply now!

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The Welcoming Center