5 Things a Recruiter Should Know About Relocating to the USA

March 27, 2023
Francesca Batt Head of New York

Moving to America is one of the most exciting things a UK recruiter can do. It’s an opportunity to expand your professional remit, experience a new culture and explore. But like any major decision, it isn’t something you should just jump into.

To make the move successful, recruiters should prepare themselves for the change – primarily by learning from those who have already taken the leap.

Here are five things we believe every recruiter should know before relocating to the States:

1. Faster turnaround

Many UK recruiters are taken aback by the change of pace when relocating to America. Having become used to spending several months filling roles, they are suddenly expected to source top talent within weeks. 

This is part of a larger trend in the US, where relations between recruiters and clients are often far more transactional. And while this can have benefits – such as not having to “wine and dine” clients so much – it can also be a real shock for British recruiters. 

The key to success is seeing this shift as an opportunity. Rather than worrying about building relationships, recruiters who relocate can focus purely on building market expertise and delivering results – a real test of their core skills as a recruiter.

2. Market coverage is much broader

The USA is roughly 40 times bigger than the UK; 11 of the states are larger than Britain. This shift in scale can be both energising and intimidating – and it is certainly something UK-based recruiters need to prepare themselves for.

With remote recruitment on the rise, it is more than possible to serve a diverse client-base – many of whom may be 100s of miles away. However, this makes it difficult to gain a firm handle on local cultures, which leads many recruiters to specialise in smaller areas they are able to get to know better.

Neither approach is correct – it depends entirely on what kind of career or business you want to build. But these are the kind of decisions you need to be considering when you relocate. 

3. You don’t have to settle straight away

Given the sheer size of the country, it is important to remember that you don’t have to commit to a specific region or location immediately. Particularly if you have not yet spent much time in America, it may be worth getting a sense of different locations before determining where you settle. 

This was an insight Jack Hart offered in an interview with the Fifteen Minutes podcast. Jack spent the best part of a year staying in Airbnbs across the States before moving into a permanent residence, which definitely helped him feel he’d made an informed decision.

This won’t be for everyone, and may not even be practical for some. But relocating often feels like a massive roll of the dice, and anything you can do to gain a sense of control is worth trying.

4. The cost of living is higher

Many recruiters are drawn to the States to increase their salary. But this may be a slight misnomer, and it’s an important one to correct for. Yes: the average wage in America is more than 50% higher than the UK. However, the cost of living is also much higher – something many forget to consider. 

From daily necessities like food, internet and phone bills to things like healthcare, most recruiters find their expenditure expands just as dramatically as their earnings when they relocate.

The key lesson is simple: relocating will involve being more conscious of your spending. In most cases, it won’t actually hinder your lifestyle – it may actually enhance it. But you will have to think about things like health insurance, which most of us in Britain simply take for granted. 

5. The transition can be difficult

Finally, it is important to remember that relocating to the States involves a lot of paperwork and bureaucracy. There are many legal hurdles, and while plenty of people make the transition seamlessly, it isn’t something you can take lightly.

This is particularly true if you are moving with family: your spouse may have a different legal status, and you could end up being forced to transition at different times. Of course, that is a worst case scenario – but it’s certainly not unheard of.

More broadly, there will be an inevitable culture shock for many Brits entering America. We assume that things are roughly the same, because we share such strong political ties and share culture. But living in a different country can be a strange experience – one that may take some time to adjust to.