Kahit graduate ka sa Ateneo o sa UP, hindi guarantee para makakuha ka ng magandang trabaho sa US.
Ito ay kinopya ko sa Manila Standard para maishare ko sa mga nagbabasa. Sa susunod na kabanata, aheste, ikukuwento ko naman ang kahindik-hindik kong pakikipagsapalaran sa pag-aapply ng trabaho.
Job survival tips for Filipinos in America
I was so naïve. I thought I had completely aced my first job interview in the United States. With just a few credits shy of a master’s degree from the University of the Philippines, almost 20 years of in-flight service with Philippine Airlines, and my exclusive convent school English from the College of the Holy Spirit, I walked into that first job interview with the confident smile of a shoo-in candidate. The job after all, was nothing more than an entry-level position for a small firm. They were lucky to have someone of my qualifications apply for the job. My confidence seemed to be justified. The interviewers were pleasant and nodded encouragingly as I answered their questions. They thanked me most sincerely and promised to call in just a few days. I left the interview pumping my right arm in victory, high-fiving my grinning reflection in the restroom mirror. Immigrating to the States had been the right decision, after all. A couple of months settling in and here I was, ready to conquer the US corporate world. Piece of cake.
I spent the following week waiting for the phone to ring. The next week, I did the same. Could they have lost my contact information? I called. I left messages. Neither one of the friendly managers who had interviewed me was available. They seemed to be in meetings all the time. Then I received the letter. They were very impressed with my qualifications but had decided to offer the position to someone else who was a “better fit for the organization.”
Undeterred, I continued with my job search. I got interviewed by amazingly cordial people but invariably received almost exact facsimiles of the “thanks but no thanks/you’re great and wonderful and your qualifications are through the roof but…” They drove me nuts. I grew nostalgic for the less tactful, often dismissive way applicants are treated in the Philippines. Back there, I always knew where I stood after a job interview. They either liked me or not. No false smiles or feigned interest.
Fast forward to 2010. I’ve been steadily employed for many years, changed jobs a number of times, and picked up a few nuggets of wisdom along the way. Here’s what I learned.
America is a country that takes political correctness to the extreme. Because you are a minority (your skin is brown and you speak with an accent), hiring managers will bend over backwards not to give you the appearance of discrimination or bias, for which they can be sued. (America is probably the most litigious country on the planet.) They will be exceedingly polite and friendly but they will not hire you, unless the job you are seeking involves mopping floors, taking care of the aged, dishing up burgers, or laboring in the farms east of the Cascades.
If you have dreams of climbing the US corporate ladder, you will need to take two important steps to get your foot in the proverbial door. First step, enroll in one of the colleges or vocational schools in your area. A two-year associate degree from Tacoma Community College or a certificate of completion from Gene Juarez Beauty School carries more weight than a doctorate degree from an unknown university from a foreign country that most prospective US employers have never heard of. It doesn’t matter that it’s the premier higher education institution in your part of the world. They don’t know it, therefore; they don’t trust it.
Second, find a volunteer position where you can gain local work experience. Your goal is to soak in the culture and learn to speak the language the way the natives do. The quicker you get it, the more marketable you become. America is big on fairness and equal opportunity but when you look and sound foreign, employers will be leery about hiring you. The most critical soft attribute that human resource managers here seek is the applicant’s “suitability” for the job. Most things being equal, the individual who most closely fits the culture of the organization is the one who gets hired. If you are familiar with the way things are done here, the American work ethos, the culture, the unspoken rules, your brown skin and accent will cease to be barriers.
In fact, once you’re hired, those things that make you foreign will also be your strengths. In America’s politically correct world, members of the minority are a protected class. Unless you do something illegal or nefarious, your colleagues and bosses will treat you most cordially and very respectfully. You should be magnanimous and do the same.
Belma Villa gained these experiences in Washington State and the Pacific Northwest from 1990 to the present. She published monthly articles as a guest columnist for The News Tribune in Tacoma, Washington in 2003. She also wrote short stories for a weekly magazine when she was still living in the Philippines.
She is now with the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Manila Standard Today is accepting essays from Filipinos working, living or studying abroad. Contributions should be 800 to 1,000 words long and must contain information about the author including name and location.
Essays may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
pati yong imbitasyon, kinopya ko para imbitahin ang magbabasa na sumali.