The Recruiter’s Guide to Relocating to America

America. Land of the free. Home of the brave. Currently being made great. Again.

The American market is yuge and recruiters can make a lot of money. But moving across the pond can be tricky. So much so that some recruiters don’t ever go. SAD!

So, I spoke to Hunted partners Salt and Twenty Recruitment to find out what recruitment’s like in America. And crucially, how you can get there.

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Founder and CEO of Twenty Recruitment, Adrian Kinnersley, spoke at our ‘Going Stateside in Recruitment’ event in March. He laid out what to expect making the hop across the pond:

“The streets aren’t paved with gold. Graft is key for businesses and individuals. Just because you’re British, don’t expect everyone to help you. You might get 5 minutes of easy rapport building but after that you’re just another recruiter”.

So what do you need to know if you’re thinking about making the move? Let’s start with the important stuff.

How much will I earn?

I’m not saying Recruiters are ALL money hungry leeches but if you don’t foist the phrase “money motivated” at interview, are you even a recruiter?

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I’m including these figures for two reasons:

1. To illustrate how your pay packet differs depending on where you live and work

2. These are average salaries for American workers across the board

So it’s probably what you’ll be taking home, and a good benchmark to start budgeting. It’s also likely you’ll be placing people on or around the $75k mark.

But salary shmalary. Talk to me about OTE.

What’s the average fee?

Depends, obviously. Typically it’s higher than the UK. It’s also normal for clients to increase a fee if what they’re looking for is hard to find.

Ballpark perm terms might be around the 25%-30% mark. Add another 10% for contract margins.

What’s contract recruitment like?

Most of it’s done to budget, and the reason contract margins are higher is because they’re rarely disclosed.

Perm candidates usually catch a good break with benefits packages including things like healthcare. That said, freelancers are known to knock around for a long time, with the term “nested” contractors used to describe them.

How much can I expect to bill?

Sarah Selisko, Global Head of Talent, Salt: “We’ve had consultants bill 800k from a standing start in year one after relocating”.

Adrian, Twenty: “If an average recruiter from the UK did the same number of placements in the US market, I’d say they would likely bill 10%–30% more because of the salary and margin differences… it’s possible to increase performance significantly more than this too”.

What’s the work culture like?

More chilled, by all accounts. The general consensus is Brits are used to working harder, but not necessarily smarter. This will all depend on the employer and location, but looking at clients and candidates is a good indication. 

And what’s the drinking culture like?

Strong.

“Literally, they free pour so drinks are strong!” Sarah tells me. Talking about New York specifically: “Lots of cute bars, speakeasies, dive bars, fancy rooftops. Something for everyone and lots to get around”.

Adrian says “US culture is geared less around booze than UK recruitment. They still have a night out but it will be harder to get casual drinks in the week than in a typical UK company… It’s difficult to pinpoint the reasons but Americans are just less geared around alcohol than Brits”.

What are the main differences recruiting in the US?

The market’s less crowded and the industry’s not as regulated in the US.

You’re also less likely to hear recruiters say they “fell into” recruitment. For the most part, it’s an aspirational career path.

Notice periods are typically shorter. 2 weeks is standard but most states abide by an “at-will” rule: employees can leave a company whenever they choose. It works both ways, and you can also be binned for any or no reason, as long as it’s not illegal to do so.

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Visas

The US state dept’s Directory of Visa Categories has plenty of information on the myriad options available.

Good luck figuring it out by yourself. Both Salt and Twenty told me the most relevant option for Recruiters is the E2 visa.

I asked Paul Samartin, Senior Partner and Head of US Immigration at law firm Ganguin Samartin, why an Immigration Lawyer’s so vital to the relocation process. Don’t plenty of people organise a relocation themselves?

“You wouldn’t defend yourself in a court of law, would you? You need a professional”

Touché.

For an E2 visa, Recruiters will likely need at least 3 years’ experience plus a degree in order to get approval. 4 without.

If you haven’t done the time, it’s likely you’ll be ruled out at this stage. If you have, you’ve probably achieved Senior Con status, or you’re managing. This is important.

The Trump administration’s “Hire American” executive order means you can’t just be any old Recruiter. You need to prove you bring more to the table than a history of solid billing. And that it’s within the interests of the business to hire you over a local.

Visa applications go through the Embassy in London and there’s a warmish 60%-70% chance of approval.

If you tick all the right boxes.

Having a visa application denied is really hard to overturn. But it depends on why it’s denied: if you haven’t got enough experience, you need to go and get more, for example.

The next time you apply, you have to disclose the denial. And you can’t visit the US in the meantime.

Any criminal history, particularly DUIs, can be a problem. You’ll need a waiver and that can take 6 months.

Paul’s advice:

“Secure the job first. Network and meet people. Focus on the job and let the lawyer cover the rest”.

E2’s take about 6 weeks to process. Do. Not. Risk. This. Bit.

Ganguin Samartin have plenty of experience relocating Recruiters to the US. They’ll guide you through the process, pull and collate all the relevant documentation, and keep everything moving along swiftly.

You can get in touch with Paul here.

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What are the main incentives for making the move?

If you’ve got this far, you probably don’t need me to tell you the chance to make a tonne of money is right there in front of you.

Add to that the life experience of living in England on steroids, not to mention the chance to progress quickly with the right company… you could be onto a winner.

Sarah reiterates the point that introducing yourself as a Recruiter isn’t usually met with the same, sometimes negative, reaction you get in other parts of the world. There’s something for everyone here: cheap travel, great art and food, a genuinely beautiful, often awe-inspiring country with a rich history.

And yes, lots of money on the table.

Who’s the US right for?

Sarah: “Independent people that are good at building relationships, both personally and professionally”. 

Anyone prepared to roll up their sleeves and not rely on having a saucy accent as their main USP. You’ll have to work hard and give a proper go assimilating into American life.

Which means committing to a vocabulary reshuffle. Cell phone. Sidewalk. Soccer. Have you seen what they call biscuits? Google it and prepare to be horrified.

And who isn’t it right for?

Adrian: “Anyone that is madly in love with the US and thinks it will be like the movies tends to struggle. Just like anywhere, there are things that are better than you expect and things that are worse”.

Do your due diligence on companies and on America.

If it’s not right for you, just remember that waking up from the American dream is better than sleeping through a nightmare.

Further reading

Appetite whetted but hungry for more?

At the time of writing, Twenty Recruitment have open jobs in London, New York and Texas on their Hunted profile. Salt are hiring in their London, New York and Dubai offices.

And if you’ve got an American city in mind, search by location for open jobs on Hunted, here.

Or, check out the articles we’ve written on a host of US locations in Hunted Worldwide.

A huge thank you to Sarah, Adrian and Paul for their time and insight.