Times have changed, and so have careers. It was hardly 50 years ago and the average lifestyle seemed to be routine. Go to high school, graduate, then either find a job or go to college. If you went to college, you would be expected to start work immediately after. Usually not far from where you grew up. In the past, it was not so common for people to travel great distances to work. It can be a time that is hard to imagine for anyone that has grown up within the last 20-30 years as our world has become increasingly international. As many countries develop their economies the term globalization has started to be almost synonymous with our current way of life. In fact, you would be surprised to find out how many companies have international divisions.
Imagine doing something that you love in one of the most beautiful places in the world. It is not so hard to do anymore. In fact, people are doing it, and it might be more common than you think.
Working abroad is something that is coveted by some while others may frown upon the idea. There are those who are willing to move at the drop of the dime, whereas other people are not so forthcoming. In today’s economy, it is almost mandatory to work abroad in specific careers, particularly energy, government, technology, and consulting industries.
This article is for people like you an I, who actively embrace and even search for opportunities to broaden our skill sets by working around the world. At first, it can be a daunting task; after all, the world is big. When you succeed at finding a job and you are happily working abroad you will enjoy the best of both worlds. You will be able to travel and get paid to do so. What more could someone spiked with wanderlust want?
Like most things, you can use a systematic approach to finding a job in another country. There are a few approaches to working abroad. The most traditional is that, you start with what you know and what is familiar to you to make some headway, then you work outward from there. This is basic and the most ’safe’ because it allows you to stay within your net until you are able to secure a position internationally. Another idea is the move-and-look approach. This approach is just what it seems. I have been told that in some areas, the best thing for you to do is get a few thousands dollars saved up and move somewhere. Make sure that you have enough money to support yourself for a few months time and worry about the rest when you get there.
This approach is probably not for people new to the international field, but realistically anyone willing to put forth the effort can benefit from this approach. Furthermore, another approach is to seek companies in your field that work in the countries that you want to work in, then try to get a job with them. Once you have succeeded you can build up your skills for a year or two with the company and then seek a transfer.
What skills do you need to work abroad?
You might be surprised that many of the job skills needed to work abroad are not much different than ones you that would be required of you where you are now. Working in a foreign country requires a bit more in the way of cultural understanding such as language skills or experience working with people from the specific countries. However, many technical positions or positions requiring a highly experienced individual do not require these skills. They are more laxed and can even offer training towards anything that they do not have.
One tip is to research jobs in your field (ones that you would be interested in doing) and write down the skills required by the job. Ask yourself: what do I lack if I were to apply for this position? Would you be considered for the position? Why, or why not?
If the answer is no, or questionable, try to map out the difference. Find out what you lack, and how you can get there.
4 Steps to help teach you how to find a job abroad and get you working internationally
- Step 1: Get out a few sheets of paper.Write down your interests, talents, what you are looking to gain, and your future goals.
- Brainstorm ideas, think and ask yourself questions like: are you looking to volunteer or build a career? Do you want to learn language, or just be in an international city?
- Additionally, do you already have language or cultural skills? Do you have any experience working in a specific international climate?
- Step 2: Use your network. Think about your connections. Do you remember that friend of yours from Santiago that you met in your focus group? Or that international business teacher from Beijing? Do you have any neighbors or family friends that might be able to give you some pointers. Who do you know that could help you? Even if they just give you some insider tips, it is never a bad idea to contact them.
- Step 3: Highlight specific fields that meet your credentials. If you have a highly specified skills set, you might find that you can easily transition into a job in engineering, government and diplomacy, or even the medical field. Do you have any leadership skills? You can volunteer, teach English, work in a hostel, and in tourism.
- Step 4: Contact local resources like the Chamber of Commerce, International Economic Development organizations, World Trade Centers, and even local universities.
- If you are from the United States, then you are going to need to create a CV (curriculum vitae). A résumé is usually tailored to a specific job. Whereas, a Curriculum, or CV, is basically an all-inclusive resume. Unlike a résumé your CV includes everything that you can include in your job skills: all jobs, all experiences, all awards, etc. A résumé, only includes your most relevant information.
- Be patient. Look around, put in the effort, and give people time to get back to you. Good things happen to those who wait!
- Be adaptable. Adaptability is probably one of the best individual skills that you can possess as an international applicant. It makes you dynamic and shows that you cannot be swayed by sudden challenges, which are sure to arise abroad.
- Help out others. After you make it in your career, be sure to help out others who are seeking to do the same.
- Sometimes you have to move first. I have heard of recruiters that will not contact applicants because their home address is listed as being too far away. If you seem distant, then likely people will think that you would be a complicated applicant needing moving costs or travel expenses et cetera. Consider moving or explicitly state that you’d be moving somewhere soon in a cover letter.
Working Abroad – A complete resource guide to working abroad from the US government. It is centered around opportunities for Americans, but others can benefit from the general information.
Goinglobal – Is a great resource for international jobs. The jobs range from entry-level, internships, and jobs for professionals. They include tips by country and region.
Easyexpat – Has city guides, job listings, and tips for international careers.
Xpatjobs – A job listing website for Ex-patriots.
World Trade Center – Links page – Has links to job sites for many European nations.
Tell me what you think!
Are you seeking a job abroad? Where are you trying to go?
If you enjoyed my article and think that others would too, please take a moment to like my Facebook page. Subscribe to my blog to weekly updates with the latest tips and thoughts from Backpacking Diplomacy. Find me on Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube!