6 Things You Can Do to Get a Job Abroad

The most important thing you need to do to get a job abroad is conduct thorough research. That doesn’t mean flipping through a travel guide or skimming work visa instructions on random overseas government websites. Your research has to cover your selected country’s healthcare, tax and immigration policies before any commitments are made.

However, some countries are more flexible and accessible with their policies for foreigners working abroad. Countries like Germany, Austria, Netherlands and Singapore have easier application processes for skilled workers. In the United States, Greece and Sweden, the process is much more difficult and time-consuming.

If you’re more flexible with your destination, you can pick a country that is more likely to approve you faster, but if your heart or goals are set on another destination, you need to dive deep on the research. Here are six things you can do to get a job abroad.

1. Love What You Do, Wherever You Do It

When you’re looking for any job, showing enthusiasm for your work is intrinsic to securing the position — whether that’s on home soil or abroad. If your main pitch for your “fitness” for the position is that “I’ve always pictured myself in Greece,” you’re going to turn off the interviewer.

Business gets done around the world and working overseas isn’t a vacation. So love what you do, wherever you do it. Let your enthusiasm show in your cover letter and resume.

2. Use Social Media to Your Advantage

Consider the reach of your professional network. It spans across the worldwide web.

Use social media to your advantage by utilizing the job search feature on Facebook to look for opportunities in your preferred country. You can also search for expat groups to solicit for advice. You’re bound to find folks who’ve gotten a job abroad successfully.

Next up is LinkedIn. Look for professional connections who will build your network for the purposes of job-seeking abroad.

Hop on Twitter and think of hashtags that would be useful in your networking and job searching online. Try #Expat and #WorkAbroad, for example. Use terms from your industry and try combining them with the name of the region or country you’re looking for.

There are also specific social networks to meet others abroad. These allow you to get to know natives and expats from home before you venture to your new home. For example, InterNations is a social network that allows expats to exchange tips on the visa process, housing and guides to getting around. WYAN lets people share photos of their travels and provides guides to various locations so you can get to know the region early on.

You may come across overseas opportunities to apply for, but be careful of scammers. Fortunately, those scams are easy to spot, much like the fake jobs on Craigslist. A good tip is to always be cautious about putting personal information online even when it’s “only” associated with your resume. Potential employers don’t need to know your birthday just yet and they don’t need a headshot.

You’ll find others to add to your professional network abroad. If others in your new network ask for advice, return their assistance with gratitude.

3. Learn About the Country and Culture

You may hold assumptions or biases that hold you back from securing your job. While some jobs may have a strong representation of your first language and culture, it’s likely you’ll need to know more about the culture you’ll be immersed within.

Start early. Brush up on your language skills and learn customs about doing business in that country. Is it customary to shake hands or bow when you greet someone in a meeting?

Your new environment will not be like home and you should be ready to appreciate all the quirks even if you’re feeling a little homesick. Learning about your future home will boost your excitement and positive vibes as you job-search.

4. Target Specific International Companies in Business Hubs

Look for work in metropolitan business hubs overseas in cities like Singapore or London. Does your current job have an office in another country?

In countries where it’s harder to get a work visa, having a job in your pocket is essential to the approval process. Companies such as UBS and Texas Instruments have work exchange programs that allow their employees to work in international offices. If you’re not already an established employee at a company, it could take a few years for this opportunity to become available to you as you prove yourself.

If you greatly admire a particular company, it doesn’t hurt to apply anyway. Show your enthusiasm for what they do and the hiring manager will take a closer look at your resume.

5. Target Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Overseas

A large company doesn’t necessarily mean an increased likelihood of sponsorship. Don’t overlook small and medium-sized businesses overseas who are also interested in international job-seekers.

Small companies will have a more hands-on approach and will also be recruiting for an extremely unique pool of talent. Some trade journals in your industry will profile international upstarts and smaller businesses, making them a good place to start your search.

6. WWOOF It

Have a passion for organic farming and learning about working off the land? WWOOF organizations offer accommodation, food and opportunities to learn about organic farming around the world. In exchange, volunteers offer their assistance part-time — perhaps twenty hours a week — and opportunities may last a few weeks or a few months.

Becoming a volunteer allows you to explore the country in your off-time and grow your professional network. You’ll learn more about the culture and may find a contact who will offer you another visa opportunity in a more corporate setting.

Your preliminary research will likely include a Google search for “working abroad” or “jobs abroad in Greece.” However, many of these searches only give you blanket advice you could apply to any search or may contain scams.

Your best strategy is still using word of mouth. The internet and social media allow you to connect with others and build your professional network without having to leave the country. Opportunities may also be available in the company you currently work for. Another alternative lies in targeting small businesses while investigating major business hubs overseas. Get to know the country and its culture. Then, if you love hard work and organic farming, give WWOOF a chance to grow your network in-person.

Working abroad gives you a valuable experience that cultivates a rich personality and strong resume. Have any tips or concerns about working overseas? Share your experience in the comments and subscribe to Punched Clocks for more career tips about putting your best professional foot forward.


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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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