No matter who you are, where, or at what time you were growing up, at some point in your life you're bound to contemplate this question — “How to find a job in New York City?”.
New York City just has that much appeal. It will lure you in through The Great Gatsby, Friends, its architecture, its vibrant art scene or abundant job market — perhaps even its grit.
And if you live outside the US, you’re not immune to its siren’s call. At some point you too will find yourself googling how to find a job in New York City as a newcomer or even a foreigner.
So, if you want to give in to your temptation and take a bite of the "Big Apple", we’ve got you covered, American or foreigner. We’ll be the green light at the end of the dock.
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Is it easy to get a job in New York City?
Well, let’s put it this way. Over 36% of people who live in New York City are not from the US.
And those people are usually top vetted individuals, highly skilled, and very well educated. It’s not an exaggeration when we say New York City attracts some of the brightest minds from around the world.
This unfortunately means that getting a job in New York City is often cutthroat.
But you’ve probably known this.
In fact, many people are attracted to New York City’s competitive nature. They want to be pitted against the best, to be challenged and expand their limitations — to make it big.
“If you can thrive in the Big Apple, you can thrive anywhere”.
With that said, if you want to have a better time finding a job in New York City there are a few things you can do to increase your odds:
- Speak good English
- Have a university degree
- Have skills that are in demand
And of course — willpower. Nobody moves to NYC to be a small prawn.
They move to the City of Dreams for a reason, to make their dreams come true and this often means long hours of work and restless nights.
How to apply for a job in New York City?
Like with any job, it's always advised to prepare before applying for a job in New York City.
Here’s what you need to get in order before applying for a job in New York City:
- Resume/cover letter: Writing a good resume and cover letter is crucial if you want to stand out in New York City. The city is notorious for its competitive spirit, so a good understanding of resumes and cover letters is needed to get ahead of the curve. You can find more details in the section below, “Resume and cover letter tips”.
- Job search engines: You’re probably familiar with plenty of the job search engines used to find a job in New York City, but we have a few more in the chapter below, “New York City job search engines”.
- Sponsorship: If you’re a foreigner and want to work in the US, the most popular path is by getting a company to sponsor your H-1B visa. You can find more information in the section “Work visa in New York City”.
- Visa: The United States can be a difficult place to obtain a work visa in. It’s important to apply for the one that fits your criteria. You can also find more information in the section “Work visa in New York City”.
Work visa in New York City
To work in New York City as a foreigner, you need to apply to one of the many work visas available through the U.S. Department of State.
The most popular visa being the H-1B specialty occupation visa. This visa is given on a point system (need 12) and is available to foreign nationals who have at least a bachelor's degree (or equivalent in your country) or 12 years of experience. In order to obtain this visa you must work in specialty occupations, such as computer science, research or engineering.
The best path to obtain an H-1B visa is by searching for companies that sponsor H-1B visas. Normally these are mid to large size companies, as smaller companies have issues with the costs and the legal knowledge involved.
Also, only 85,000 H-1B visas are available each year, so it’s good to get started on your application as soon as possible.
There are other visas you can consider for working in New York City, such as:
- L-1 visa: Foreign nationals working for a US company outside of the US can request a transfer.
- E2 visa permit: For traders and investors
- H-2B visa permit: For non-agricultural workers
- EB-1 Green Card: For those able to demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim.
- EB-2 Green Card Permit: For those with an advanced degree and exceptional ability.
- EB-3 Green Card Permit: Professionals, Skilled and Other Worker
Another thing you can do is apply for the Diversity Visa Lottery each year. Small chance, but free and literally no downside to applying.
And of course, falling in love with a U.S Citizen and getting married is also a great path.
For more info on United States work visas.
Resume and cover letter tips
As a rule of thumb, it’s always advised to tailor your resume according to the company’s needs and in your case, to New York City’s needs.
The US, like most western countries, doesn't expect a picture on your resume or many other probing details like your age and relationship status (yes, some countries do expect such details, for example if you were looking for a job in Japan).
Instead, here’s what you can do to make your resume stand out when applying for a job in New York City:
- Assume the position is competitive: Even small job listings in New York City get dozens of applicants. In order to come out ahead, try to use power verbs, quantify your success, and show your eagerness to upgrade your skills.
- Keep it short and concise: Recruiters are busy and even more so in big metropolitan cities like New York City, so it's good to keep your resume between 450-600 words. More than that and research has shown that your resume will be .
- Add only required personal information: Keep it to your name and contact details. New York City is a progressive place with many anti-discrimination laws in place. If you add details like your age, gender, and nationality, your resume might be rejected do to liabilities.
- Use American English: Color instead of Colour, etc.
As for Hobbies, add them if you feel they add a touch of personality to your resume or if they align with the job description.
Also, it's good to keep in mind the culture of the company you're applying for. A financial company in Wall Street is likely to be more serious then a tech start-up.
For more inspiration, check out these resume samples.
Similar to the resume, New York City cover letters should be kept simple and to the point.
Stay focused on the job and don’t get carried away with the idea of working in New York City.
A good cover letter for New York City should:
- Start with a sentence that is both relevant and memorable.
- Use professional language (make sure to use American English).
- Describe your skills as they relate to the job.
- Be tailored specifically to the job.
Also, try to state how you could add value to the company even though you’re not from the city. As New York City companies have a large pool of potential employees to choose from, it's imperative that you tell them why you're the right fit for the job.
If you’re not sure about cover letters, these cover letter samples can point you in the right direction.
New York City job search engines
As unique as New York City is, it’s still part of the United States.
With that said, there are a few other New York City job search engines you can use on your search for your dream job:
- NYC Poached: If you’re trying to find a job at a restaurant, bar, or coffee shop, look no further than NYC Poached.
- Digital NYC: Although NYC is no Silicon Valley, it does have a thriving tech scene. Digital NYC is a great website if you're looking for a job at a tech start-up.
- New York Foundation of the Arts: New York City’s art scene is renowned worldwide. If you’re trying to break into the art world, New York Foundation of the Arts is a nice way to get your foot in the door.
- NYC.gov: This is the official website for the City of New York and the first place you should check if you want to get a job related to the government.
- New York Jobs: This website is great for those looking for a job around the Manhattan borough.
- NYC Charter Schools: If you’re a teacher, this website is meant for you.
I would like to reiterate that if you’re already familiar with popular job search engines like LinkedIn and Indeed. Then it is likely that you don’t really need to look further as these websites have a strong foothold in the Big Apple and will definitely have a job or two waiting for you.
Popular neighborhoods to work in New York City
It’s no longer the 70’s and you’re now able to live just about everywhere within New York City and feel at ease. Even the “bad” parts of New York City’s five boroughs are relatively nice and safe.
However, that doesn’t mean all parts of New York City are created equal and there are a few questions you should be asking yourself when considering your move to the City of Dreams.
“Is the neighborhood within my budget?”, “Does it have the amenities I need?”, and most importantly “Is there a metro station close by?”.
Believe me, once you’ve adjusted yourself to the metropolitan pace of life, bumper-to-bumper traffic will make your hair stand on end and no amount of Starbucks will bring back your lost time.
Having said that, here are 5 neighborhoods in New York City with notable amenities, “reasonable prices” and great connectivity:
This neighborhood is located in the western portion of the New York City borough of Queens. You have great access to the city by an elevated subway track that is located across the East River. The neighborhood was originally inhabited by Greeks, but you will also find Italian and Brazilian influences, amongst others.
This is a great place for those who like nature, as Washington Heights contains over 600 acres of parkland and amazing views of the Hudson river. Also, if you’re a student this is likely the place you will find yourself as Columbia University and the City College of New York is only a few walkable minutes aways.
As a working class neighborhood, Kingsbridge is a bit further than the other neighborhoods listed on this article. However, although the commute downtown can take up to an hour, you get quite the deal for living in Kingsbridge. The neighborhood has plenty of charm, with many mom-and-pop stores and restaurants around Broadway. Grab a bite to eat and chill at Van Cortlandt Park.
You can find the West Brighton neighborhood on the North Shore of Staten Island. This neighborhood is great for families, with the ferry terminal close by and many recreational spaces such as Cloves Lake Park, Silver Lake and The Staten Island Zoo. West Brighton also has some of the lowest crime rates in NYC.
Ok, technically this neighborhood is in New Jersey. However, it’s just a stone throw away and heck you’ll get a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline from it. Not only that, but the prices here are still reasonable ( New York reasonable) while still being clean, wakable and offering a thriving coffee scene. The commute to New York City will also be short, under 20 minutes to Penn Station by taking the PATH train into Manhattan.
Although the prices might seem out of reach, keep in mind that these prices are for a one bedroom apartment. Expect to pay substantially less for a studio apartment and of course if you decide to share a flat.
There’s also your New York City salary to take into consideration. We will cover this in the chapter below, "Salaries in New York Cities".
Summer jobs in New York City for foreigners
Assuming you’ve already obtained your visa to work in the US, you can find summer jobs in New York City in the following websites:
A good rule of thumb for those wanting to apply for a summer job in New York City is to apply for a J1 visa, as the requirements for such a visa can be less demanding.
Volunteer jobs in New York City for foreigners
Since volunteering is not compensated with money, you’re actually able to do so on a regular visa. No need to struggle with all the bureaucracy that comes with getting a work permit.
Here are 3 great websites you can use to find volunteering work in New York City as foreigner:
- Little Essentials: Little Essentials offers at-risk families living in poverty urgently needed children’s supplies and parenting education to promote the health, wellbeing and safety of their children under five years of age.
- The Young Center: The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights protects and advances the rights and best interests of immigrant children according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and state and federal law.
- imentor: iMentor builds mentoring relationships that empower students in low-income communities to graduate high school, succeed in college, and achieve their ambitions.
All you need is a good command of the English language and you should be good to go.
Best companies hiring in New York City
As New York City attracts some of the finest minds in our globe, many companies set up offices in the metropolis in order to capitalize on them.
Some of the best companies hiring in New York City are:
Salaries in New York City
How much you get paid in New York City depends on many factors, such as your experience and education level and if your skills are in demand.
Although the average salary in New York City is $80,000 per year. These salaries have been inflated due to most common jobs in NYC being white collar jobs such as software engineers, project managers and executive assistants.
If your career is amongst the ones listed above then you can expect around $80,000, for everyone else it is better to look at the medium wage of a New York City worker which according to the US Census Bureau 2018 American Community Survey stands at $53,700.
Coronavirus-related information for foreigners looking for a job in New York City
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted work world wide, and New York City is no exception.
Although 2020 was a tough year for foreign nationals wanting to work in the US, due to the Trump administration putting a hold on most visas, including the popular H-1b visa.
In 2021, the Department of State announced the prioritization of immigrant visa processing.
With the exception of a few delays, you can expect to continue your business as usual.
However, the changes can happen at a whim. So, it's good to keep up to date on the COVID-19 developments by checking the U.S. Department of State newsroom.