What is the best way to get a job abroad? I should know. Aupair, translator, teacher, writer… PA, PR… part time this, full time that… I’ve done it all. I know firsthand how tough it can be to get a job abroad. Now, as we crawl out of our pandemic burrows, it’s especially hard.
If you’re on the hunt for working abroad opportunities, here are some tips on how to get a job abroad before moving and also when you arrive.
1. Localise your CV
Job resumes vary in style and content according to the country. For example, in many parts of Europe it’s very common to include a photo, whereas in the UK most people do without. In Chile, I’ve seen candidates list their education right back to primary school very prominently, whereas in the UK higher education generally comes after professional experience only.
Consider getting your CV translated into the local language, even if you don’t speak the local language fluently. If you’ve uploaded your CV on company boards or search sites, internet searches might not pick up your CV unless it’s in the local language. If you’re looking at large multinationals only, keeping your CV to English should not be an issue.
If you’re applying in a new country, ask a local headhunter or someone in your field of work for their thoughts on your CV. You might need two versions of your CV.
2. Adapt your job search
Which job portal is best for jobs abroad? While LinkedIn still reigns supreme in many European countries, it’s totally irrelevant in others. In Belgium, for example, Indeed was a very popular jobs portal. However, for most multinationals, direct searches via company job boards prove you’re interested and passionate about the company.
Like it or not, in many countries it’s all about contacts. In many countries jobs are simply not advertised. Worse still, they might be advertised, but only as a token and in reality the job has already been earmarked for someone. It’s wrong, but you might have more luck finding a job on a night out than stuck at home on the computer. On the other hand, some employers are highly bureaucratic and you may well need to jump through hoops of forms and references before you’re even considered. Even in the corona era, it’s all about networking (see below).
If you’re applying for a job based in a different time zone, make yourself available at a time to suit the employer. If that means a Skype interview at 3am on Easter Monday, so be it.
3. Harness the power of ‘Glocal’ networking
In some countries it pays to be very direct and push for that job or promotion. In others it’s more about building up contacts and proving your worth to the people who pull the strings.
Personally, I’ve found that reaching out for a casual chat about careers, along with a healthy dose of flattery proves fruitful. If you’ve already moved to the country, consider attending relevant work events, conferences and training programs which can build up your network.
Obviously face to face networking isn’t possible in many places right now due to the coronavirus pandemic. So be prepared to take your networking online and be patient as you build contacts. Research virtual classes, workshops and events.
In terms of things to consider before moving, remember that often it’s your closest contacts in your home city that can prove truly valuable. Look up alumni networks, attend work fairs, reach out via social media. You might not need to stray far from home to find useful contacts abroad.
Also look for professional groups to join on LinkedIn. For example, if you’re looking for a job in marketing, there is LinkedIn’s Global Marketing and Communications Professionals group. Keep an eye on what your dream employers are posting and join in the conversation. Remember to keep your posts and comments both professional and industry relevant at all times.
4. Make yourself stand out
Culturally you’ll want to integrate, however you want your individual skills and experience to stand out. What makes you special in your new country? Foreign languages are obviously a plus, as well as other specialist skills and relevant international experience.
Be sure to stress any relevant qualifications which underpin these skills, for example TEFL. Analyse your target job descriptions and ask yourself if you have the skills or experience to meet every requirement. If you don’t, or if you’re rusty, now is a great time to sign up for an online course in your area of expertise. Here is a listing of online courses to boost job skills.
5. Research, research, research
It’s worth researching not just the company, but also the employer’s region and the wider industry. If a country is experiencing the start of a recession, or if the company has recently laid off workers due to the pandemic, there simply may be no jobs available. Investigate before you make the move abroad.
When reviewing the company, look on sites such as Glassdoor and ask around contacts on LinkedIn to get a feel for the work culture. Read up about them in the press. Coronavirus has been the ultimate test for how a company treats its employers. Real people always give a better idea than the company websites or advertisements.
Sign up to Google alerts on the company or organisation you’re interested in joining. Not only will you get a feel for the place, you’ll also keep track of their movements which will stand you in good stead for a possible future interview.
6. Check visa requirements
Check your work visa situation. Some countries allow you to enter on a tourist visa and switch it to a work visa when you arrive. Other countries are notoriously difficult to enter without a job contract, and you’ll need to do your paperwork before you leave.
In some countries, such as Chile, it is feasible to find a job after having moved over, but it’s best to get some paperwork done in advance. For example, it’s advisable to get your university degree certificate and other academic qualifications apostilled in your home country before the move.
7. Look at programs with your current employer
Most employers with offices abroad are open to internal moves, if you can show worth. If you can prove how you will add value, an internal work abroad program can work out much better as you already have contacts. Some companies have rotational work abroad programs already in place.
Meanwhile, others might be amenable to remote work from abroad. If you can work from home, you might be able to work from abroad just as easily.
Even better, if you can secure an expat package, you’ll undoubtedly find it more comfortable on a practical and financial level.
8. Brush up your interview skills
Interviews on the phone, via Skype and in person are very different. Be prepared for any eventuality. For Skype interviews, check your camera, sound and internet connection. Be sure to have a clean, neutral background prepared. It’s worth making yourself presentable even for telephone interviews – in my experience, plans have changed from the last minute and we’ve switched from a phone interview to Skype.
For video calls, record a test interview. It might be feel awkward but it’s the best way to check your technology is working and you look confident.
Use this time to reflect on what you really want in life. Look at your long term plan and where you’d like to be in five, ten and fifteen years. Consider reaching out to a qualified life or careers coach.
If you feel your job search is taking too long, consider complementing it with a course or voluntary program. Or start something yourself, be it a business, a blog or a joint venture.
10. Be patient
Visa paperwork and job hunting takes time. Plan in advance and be prepared to take months to find work. Job hunting abroad in a new country might take a lot longer than you have been used to before.
Make a schedule with daily and weekly targets, for example attending a workshop, drafting an application letter or reaching out to a new contact. Don’t forget to include daily exercise and socialising too. Even if it’s a walk around the block and a phone call to a friend, it makes a huge difference to your personal wellbeing.
Finally, don’t be tough on yourself. Job hunting takes time, patience and perseverance. Mix in a move abroad, a pandemic and economic fallout and it just got even harder. Be kind to yourself.
Hang in there, and good luck!