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Working in the US (SF) help please...

Working in the US (SF) help please...

Old Nov 17th 2010, 8:48 pm
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Default Working in the US (SF) help please...

Hi all

I have a potential opportunity to move to the US but I would appreciate some general advice:

My wife has a US passport and has been offered a job in SF as an international assignment from her current company. She will get to go on her UK terms and conditions so good holiday in particular. If we were to go I will need to give up my current job as a technical lead in an IT company (e-commerce, java and sybase) and get employment in SF. I am told I will get a green card due to my wife's citizenship.

UPDATE: We live in the UK and have done pretty much all our lives, my wife was born in Alaska but was only there a couple of years. We have been married 4 years.

My questions are:

1. What is the IT job market like in SF? Will I have any issues looking for work on a green card?

2. What sort of holiday entitlement could I expect? Can you get more holiday if you contract rather than go permanent or is there still an expectation level even though you don't get paid for holiday as a contractor?

3. What sort of hours are expected for a working week?

4. Do companies tend to be flexible with start and end times? We have 2 young children (2 and 5) and due to work flexibility I can start early and leave early to pick them up in the evening.

I know this wil differ depending on the company but I am trying to get a feel for what to expect to allow me to make a decision about this.

I will appreciate any help with any of these questions.

cheers

Andy

Last edited by arhayes; Nov 17th 2010 at 9:09 pm. Reason: Adding more information.
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Old Nov 17th 2010, 8:59 pm
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Default Re: Working in the US (SF) help please...

Originally Posted by arhayes View Post
Hi all

I have a potential opportunity to move to the US but I would appreciate some general advice:

My wife has a US passport and has been offered a job in SF as an international assignment from her current company. She will get to go on her UK terms and conditions so good holiday in particular. If we were to go I will need to give up my current job as a technical lead in an IT company and get employment in SF. I am told I will get a green card due to my wife's citizenship.

My questions are:

1. What is the IT job market like in SF? Will I have any issues looking for work on a green card?

2. What sort of holiday entitlement could I expect? Can you get more holiday if you contract rather than go permanent or is there still an expectation level even though you don't get paid for holiday as a contractor?

3. What sort of hours are expected for a working week?

4. Do companies tend to be flexible with start and end times? We have 2 young children (2 and 5) and due to work flexibility I can start early and leave early to pick them up in the evening.

I know this wil differ depending on the company but I am trying to get a feel for what to expect to allow me to make a decision about this.

I will appreciate any help with any of these questions.

cheers

Andy
What is the IT job market like in SF? - I will let IT folks here respond to that. Generally I hear investment in IT is coming back so the jobs will be there. I believe in ‘no matter how sh*t economy, there are always jobs for talented experienced people’. So I hope you have some skills in IT (like JAVA UNIX or whatever you guys call it and are in demand)

Will I have any issues looking for work on a green card? – None! If you have a GC you are good to go.

What sort of holiday entitlement could I expect? Depends on company….some offer as little as a week. 2 weeks seems to be the standard. Bigger firms, I am told, offer vacation based on position in the company and duration you have been there.

Can you get more holiday if you contract rather than go permanent – don’t get the question. Contract means you work job to job i.e no vacation.

What sort of hours are expected for a working week? – again depends. I find IT folks in my firm relatively decent work hours. 830 am to 6 pm seems to be average day.

Do companies tend to be flexible with start and end times? - again, IT I have seen more flexibility given you guys can work from home or work anytime. If you have not guessed yet, I am not from IT so I am going by my experience what I have seen here!

Good luck!!

Last edited by E3only; Nov 17th 2010 at 9:08 pm.
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Old Nov 17th 2010, 9:02 pm
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Default Re: Working in the US (SF) help please...

Hi Andy,

Where are you and your wife living at the moment? How long has your wife been living there? How long have you been married? The answers to these questions will help us help you. (update: I see you've added this info now.)

You should not have any major issues looking for work on a green card except for the usual issues of a poor economy. You may have to explain some of your qualifications for people who are unfamiliar with UK systems and credentials.

Holiday (vacation) time - I don't know what it's like for IT. I will get 2 weeks per year after having been in my job for six months. My DH works part time in retail and can have as much unpaid time off as he wants (within reason) as long as he gives three weeks notice.

Working week in offices is commonly 8 AM to 5 PM with an hour for lunch. DH has a variable schedule and has been in as early as 6 AM and as late as 11:30 PM, though not on the same day.

"Do companies tend to be flexible with start and end times?" - it will vary based on the company and their philosophy. Some will be, and possibly more in the IT realm than other disciplines. With the poor economy more places can get away with being less flexible, though.

Last edited by avanutria; Nov 17th 2010 at 9:30 pm.
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Old Nov 17th 2010, 9:04 pm
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Default Re: Working in the US (SF) help please...

It will take a minimum of 5 months for you to get the visa to move to join your wife, if she begins the process before she departs the UK.

Your children may have immigration issues to sort out too; leave enough time for all that. We have a great forum for those questions at http://britishexpats.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=35
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Old Nov 17th 2010, 9:58 pm
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Default Re: Working in the US (SF) help please...

Originally Posted by arhayes View Post

3. What sort of hours are expected for a working week?
Anything from 40-80 hours...though CA does have some decent laws on over time pay if you're just a phleb.

Contractor usually charges more per hour because they get no health benefits, holiday, sick or any other benefits and you've got to pay your own portion of taxes that an employer would usually have to pay on a fulltimer.
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Old Nov 17th 2010, 10:27 pm
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Default Re: Working in the US (SF) help please...

Originally Posted by E3only View Post
Can you get more holiday if you contract rather than go permanent – don’t get the question. Contract means you work job to job i.e no vacation.
Contract means you get as much vacation as you want (possibly as much as 52 weeks a year if business is slow) - you just don't get paid for it ...
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Old Nov 17th 2010, 11:15 pm
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Default Re: Working in the US (SF) help please...

Originally Posted by md95065 View Post
Contract means you get as much vacation as you want (possibly as much as 52 weeks a year if business is slow) - you just don't get paid for it ...
Exactly my point - no vacation. Get unpaid time off!
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Old Nov 17th 2010, 11:33 pm
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Default Re: Working in the US (SF) help please...

1. What is the IT job market like in SF? Will I have any issues looking for work on a green card?

No issues looking. I'd start networking now, it's all about who you know in the Bay Area. Don't limit yourself to the city of San Francisco either - you're more likely to get a job down south in the Valley.

2. What sort of holiday entitlement could I expect? Can you get more holiday if you contract rather than go permanent or is there still an expectation level even though you don't get paid for holiday as a contractor?

10-25 days paid vacation depending on the company, with the lower end more common.

3. What sort of hours are expected for a working week?

50+ hours a week is about the minimum I've seen in IT here. Sometimes much more.

4. Do companies tend to be flexible with start and end times? We have 2 young children (2 and 5) and due to work flexibility I can start early and leave early to pick them up in the evening.

Depends on where you work, but in general leaving early (before 6pm) is frowned upon.
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Old Nov 18th 2010, 1:04 am
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Default Re: Working in the US (SF) help please...

A lot of the bigger tech companies are still on hiring freezes except for key positions. It's going to depend a lot on your experience. I agree with the previous poster: network. Even before the hiring freeze quite a few companies were on reference only interviews, i.e. if someone didn't recommend you you'd have trouble even getting an interview.

10-7 is common around here (South Bay) but basically if you're in a good job they're interested in you getting the work done. If it takes longer you work longer, and on the rare occasion it takes less, you have a bit of time on your hands. I'm sure that's not much different from your UK job.

No overtime for salaried workers, which most jobs in tech are. But it really depends on your skills and experience.
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Old Nov 18th 2010, 1:32 am
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Default Re: Working in the US (SF) help please...

You should take a look at http://dice.com and input your credentials to see what sort of "tech" jobs are available. The use of the word "I.T." is somewhat limited here, and when it is expressed it generally refers to the "computer guy in the office" rather than say a software developer or hardware engineer. I rarely ever hear the tech guys I hang out with and work with refer to themselves as "IT" people.

When applying for some of the tech jobs with say a bank or a large company with limited tech exposure, you'll find that certifications will be somewhat worthwhile as the folks in the HR aren't necessary savvy on what is and what isn't needed. When applying for some of the younger tech companies in Silicon Valley and SFO you'll find your experience and some demos of things you have done will be far more examined than your degree or certifications.

Start networking. Look into old classmates who have relocated to the Bay Area and see if there are any old colleagues out there as well. Linkedin is a given--you need to be hitting that, and with many younger places a social network profile on Facebook, Twitter or some other site is pretty much considered the norm. Dice.com and indeed.com are two good sites for job listings, just to get a flavor of what is out there.

The Bay Area is a very broad term that encompass a pretty large area, from some of the remaining telcom tech companies up in Petaluma/Marin/Sonoma county down to the big tech powerhouses in San Jose. The new social networking sites are popping up all over downtown SFO and the established Internet giants are in Silicon Valley itself. Unfortunately, traffic can be quite a nightmare, so if your search will have to have a bit of a geographic / commuter bent to it once you have an idea what part of San Francisco / Bay Area you are going to be living.
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Old Nov 18th 2010, 4:13 am
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Default Re: Working in the US (SF) help please...

Good advice above.

When I was looking, for every 1 job in the East Bay (Walnut Creek/Pleasanton), I'd see 5 in San Francisco and 20 in Silicon Valley (Santa Clara/etc). Silicon Valley (aka South Bay) is by far the best job market, unless you have specialties in banking/finance/insurance. Traffic can be a nightmare so don't think you can live in SF and work in San Jose/etc.

Take a look at KIT list - was my favorite resource. http://www.kitlist.org/about.html . Having said that, in 27 years here I've never found a job by responding to ads (other than the first one); always through personal referrals/networking. I've been out of work a total of 6 weeks in 27 years. Networking is King in my book.

Regarding vacation/etc - I would not go into a job interview asking about time off, hours, etc. I would see that as a big red flag as an interviewer. You should be interested in the challenges, the opportunities, etc. Go in, get started, show your stuff, impress folks, THEN start looking at flexible hours, working from home, etc.

Be sure to create a resume formatted/structured according to US standards; don't use UK terms that US folks won't understand. Have a few Americans read it and make sure. Go for 2 pages and don't bother with 'interests/hobbies', 'clean drivers license', etc. Don't create/save formatted for A4 paper - can cause issues with US ('letter') printers (literally can hold up an entire printer queue waiting for 'Add A4 paper' - not a way to bring attention to yourself). Create resume in PDF and Word format (I won't even look at a plain text resume).

Good Luck! It's a great place to live, and work.
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Old Nov 18th 2010, 4:27 am
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Default Re: Working in the US (SF) help please...

Originally Posted by Bob View Post
Anything from 40-80 hours...though CA does have some decent laws on over time pay if you're just a phleb.
I wish.

In general startups will have a culture of longer working hours than more established companies. But even in larger companies there's often an expectation of long hours. The flip side is that many companies are flexible about when you actually work and also will allow you to work from home some of the time.
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Old Nov 18th 2010, 6:25 am
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Default Re: Working in the US (SF) help please...

Originally Posted by Giantaxe View Post
I wish.
...
Well, he does have a point. In CA, if you have an 'IT' job and make less than $80k or so (forget the exact figure now) you are almost guaranteed to be an hourly worker, entitled to overtime. That figure is higher than most states.

(update)
What I just learned, by doing a bit of research on this, is that a big change occurred in 2008 in the employer's favor. In 2007, you had to be paid a minimum of $103k to be exempt from OT in the Computer profession; in 2008, this dropped to $74k. For 2010, the figure is $79k. Not only did the amount drop, but the way the figure is calculated changed in the employer's favor also. This page explains it - see chart at bottom of page.

By way of comparison, in Arizona, that figure is around $55k I believe.

See this website also for general info, and find the section "6. Computer-Related Occupation Exemption"
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Old Nov 18th 2010, 7:03 am
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Default Re: Working in the US (SF) help please...

As others have indicated, if you go into a job asking about:

Vacation policy
Overtime policy
Flex-work policy

you aren't going to get much interest. This is why you need to do some networking and talk to some others out there who can give you recommendations of places to work (and more importantly, where not to work). Many of the tech companies there are established with formal policies on all these things, but many others are small startups where you will be expected to burn the midnight oil. Some even have sleeping bags under their desk (no joke). Knowing which place to work before you even send in a resume will help you maximize your job search and efforts.

This is an interesting piece by a successful entrepreneur in the Valley about "Startups and Kids". It's worth reading and doing some googling. The life of a startup (which is very common out there) is not really that family-friendly unless you get the right group of folks together with the right understanding.

http://www.socaltech.com/articles/ha...p/a-00139.html
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Old Nov 18th 2010, 4:48 pm
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Default Re: Working in the US (SF) help please...

Originally Posted by penguinsix View Post
The life of a startup (which is very common out there) is not really that family-friendly unless you get the right group of folks together with the right understanding.
Agreed. One startup I worked at I was literally the only employee with children. I think I was looked at as something of a "novelty". It actually worked pretty well for a while until a new CEO was brought in who decided to remove any company contribution to healthcare for an employee's family. Of course, I was the only person affected by this, and it more than wiped out the financial gain of my prior promotion. The reason for the change? The CEO's policy was to discourage people with children from accepting jobs there.
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