8 Things to Think About Before Taking a Job in the USA

8 Things to Think About Before Taking a Job in the USA

If you are considering taking a job in the states, I urge that you do not. You can work in so many other countries that have much better laws protecting you as an employee. Yes, most American jobs pay more than if you did that job in a European country, however, the money isn’t always worth it. The work culture in the USA is really messed up. It is far from the American dream the world is led to believe. There is no such thing as a healthy work-life balance. Work always comes first, or else.

1. What Is Personal Time?

If you take time off from work for any reason such as vacation or being sick, expect to keep your phone in your hand. Most American employers have no respect for personal time. They will contact you at all hours of the day or night, no matter if you’re working or not.

2. More Hours Means Better Worker

Let’s say you work really hard on a project and get it done really fast, there will be questions why you only worked let’s say 5 hours instead of 10 hours. In America, the culture is, the more hours you work, the harder and better of a worker you are. That means you’re always expected to work a full-time job plus a side hustle, instead of just being happy. Working part-time is not allowed at most non-service jobs. 

3. Sick Time and Vacation Time

In the USA, these are the same thing. Most companies give you anywhere from a few days to two weeks to take a vacation or to be sick. Yes, you read that correctly. If you’re sick for two weeks in the year, that means you won’t be taking a vacation that year. Even if you don’t get sick, two weeks or less of vacation time is absurd. It’s not enough time to recharge and be energized to work the rest of the year.

4. At-Will Work Contract

Many companies can fire you for any reason. And once you’re fired, you’re expected to leave the company that very same day without any sort of severance pay. When you start at most companies, you sign a contract stating that you’re an at-will employee. That means your employer doesn’t need a good reason to fire you.

5. Health Insurance

Your health insurance is tied to your job. Your company covers a part of the cost, and you cover the rest. So if you’re fired, you don’t have health insurance anymore. Of course, you can pay for private health insurance, but the cost of that is crushing.

6. Retirement

Even though money gets taken out in the form of taxes from your paycheck for your pension, that doesn’t mean that the government-funded pension is a livable wage. Some employers offer a 401k. That means you put money into an investment fund through your company, and your company matches what you put in up to a certain amount. But if you’re fired, then you need to invest money yourself so you don’t have to work past retirement to live. 

7. Criminal Record

A lot of states still allow your potential employer to ask you if you have a criminal record. If you have a criminal record, they most likely won’t hire you. Many companies will even run a background check before hiring you. 

8. Drug Testing

Many jobs make you do a drug test before getting hired and often during your time working at the company. They won’t hire you if they find something in the results of the test that they don’t like.

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What surprised you the most about working for an American company?

11 thoughts on “8 Things to Think About Before Taking a Job in the USA

  1. As someone who lives and works in the Midwestern U.S., I agree with most of these things, but with some caveats/additions:

    It’s important for people to understand that paying government taxes for things like social security doesn’t guarantee that you’ll actually receive it when the time comes for retirement. The taxes the young generations pay actually only go toward funding the current retirees. And yes, as you put it, it’s often not enough to live on so you need to supplement it with something.

    Some jobs have sick time separate from vacation time, but often you’re punished for getting sick in the first place. My job working for a local government gives us ample sick time but every time you call of sick you get one point, and if too many points accrue within 6 months to a year, you can be disciplined. Also many jobs make you use sick or vacation time if you leave to have a baby. And then when that runs out, you just are out on unpaid leave. So if you have a baby, be prepared to not have any sick or vacation time left. And the leave is usually only 3 months max.

    In terms of at-will employment: there ARE certain reasons you can’t be fired, but this depends on the state in which you live. Normally states have laws that you can’t be fired for being pregnant, based on your sex, disability, or religion. Some states have also enacted laws that don’t allow you to be fired based on sexual preference or gender identity, as well. Of course, if you are fired for any of those reasons, you have to be able to prove it in court or you’re out of luck.

    Overall U.S. workers rights are not great, and you’re right that most people end up working multiple jobs and there’s not great work/life balance.

  2. You speak as if you have lived in the Netherlands long enough to experience the negative side of our employment system in comparison to that in America. I assure you, each system has its pros and cons. When you learn to speak the language and fully integrate here, you might see things differently. What you find undesirable about America, a Nederlander might find very much so desirable.

      1. How can you say the quality of life is better than anywhere when you have not integrated into our society yet. You do not even speak more than basic Dutch ………

        Of course I think everything is great when I do not understand the chaos around me.

          1. I do not know what you are trying to say by replying with an article. When I read the article, it tells me that you do not know the country. Being Dutch we know that we usually go to Belgium for injuries like that …….

  3. I remember thinking, right after graduation from a top EU university (not trying to sound snobby, I promise this is important for context), that I was a “loser” because I didn’t score a job in the states. Moving to NYC was “the dream” and what every single one of my classmates was trying to do.
    The thing is, I made some friends from the USA at that same school, and upon talking with them about their country, I realized that, just as you said, the “dream” is a bit of a scam happiness-wise.
    Your honesty is so refreshing. Part of me still needed to read this post to get over the FOMO.

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