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Hiring Employees in the USA

Learn about the process of hiring employees in the USA and the benefits of using a dedicated recruitment team.

Hiring your workforce in the United States

For successful recruiting and hiring in the USA you need an excellent understanding of US business culture and how compliance works in that country. To find out more, read this guide.

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Talent Acquisition and hiring in the USA

Recruit and hire staff in the United States

The benefits of expansion into the U.S. barely need to mentioned. With over 350 million people, the largest country in the world by GDP is a sought after expansion location for any ambitious enterprise.

Many are attracted to recruiting and hiring in the USA by its reputation as a ‘pro-employer’ business environment, as well as its favorable tax arrangements. However, navigating both federal and state laws, and its distinct business culture, means that you need to have a deep understanding of the cultural and compliance factors that will impact on your recruitment and hiring approach. We explain this in detail below.

The US job application process

When managing the process of hiring in the USA, what are the key things you need to be aware of?

  • Resume and cover letter. In the US, resumes are often much shorter than they are in other countries. Generally, the goal is to fit the entire resume onto one page and only highlight the most pertinent information. This is a recognition of the sheer volume of applicants that many jobs in the US receive. The resume should not contain a photo, nor should it contain detailed personal information, as is common in some other countries. The accompanying cover letter can be more ‘personalized’ and go into greater detail about the candidate’s appropriateness for the job;
  • Interviewing. It is common for interviews to occur in two stages. Candidates should attend in business attire and ensure they arrive on time;
  • Testing. Many companies include extensive testing, such as psychometric testing in their interviewing and process of hiring in the USA. Both hirers and potential employees should check what level of testing is standard in the industry that they are in;
  • Self-confidence. While in some European and Asian countries it is important to be modest about ones abilities in an interview, it is different in the United States. Applicants are expected to be confident in themselves, to talk about their past successes and emphasize what they can bring to the company going forward.

Understanding the United States work culture

Some key components of work culture in the USA that you should be aware of include:

  • Working hours. Employees in the US work notoriously long hours. 47-50 hours is normal, whereas in many European countries 35-40 hours a week is standard. Additionally, in many industries in the U.S. it is common for employees and employers to send work emails after hours;
  • Punctuality. As in many other countries, punctuality is expected and you should not be late without a reasonable excuse;
  • Workplace informality. In most industries, employees at all levels of the business will refer to each other by their first names and there is no ‘standing on titles’ as there may be in some other countries. It is common for workmates to share details of their personal lives with each other (though, of course, there are limits);
  • Vacation. Staff in the United States take far less vacation time than their European counterparts. Only two weeks annual leave is common. In addition, few U.S. employees take their full leave entitlement.

Hiring staff in the United States

When setting up the new U.S. location of your business, you need to consider what the best option for recruiting and hiring US employees may be. Commonly, businesses set up a local entity in the U.S. This often takes the form of a ‘Limited Liability Corporation’ (or ‘LLC’). Note LLCs must be set up under state law in the United States and the majority of US companies are incorporated in the state of Delaware.

The disadvantage of setting up your own legal entity is that you may not be aware of all the key compliance and taxation requirements that you need to be on top of when hiring in the USA. This is where a ‘Professional Employer Organization’ or ‘PEO’ can be particularly helpful. As many employer compliance obligations lie under state (rather than federal) law, it may be necessary to set up a PEO solution in each state that you operate in.


Compliance for employers in the United States

Some key elements of employment law that all employers in the U.S. should be aware of include:

  • At-will’ employment. In most states in the U.S. it is possible for an employer to terminate employment without a good reason/just cause for doing so. Note, however, that there are a range of prohibited grounds for termination under U.S. discrimination legislation;
  • Employment contracts. These are not always a legal requirement in the United States, but are generally a good idea in order to set out what is expected of employer and employee;
  • Benefits packages. Without a comprehensive national healthcare system, health insurance (and benefits in general) are very important to U.S. employees. Though employers are not always directly required to offer health insurance, it is common to do so, and in some cases, there are tax penalties when a business refuses to do so. Read more about this issue at What is PEO Insurance?