Moving abroad is a dream for many, but unless you have a small fortune to support yourself during your stay - you're going to have to find some way to work abroad to make it happen. This is no small task. On top of the usual stress that comes with searching for work and standing out amongst the masses, you'll also have to go through a visa process to be able to work in another country legally.
The good news is - it's all worth it.
The new and deeper understanding you'll receive from becoming apart of a foreign workforce is like no other travel experience you've had before. It gives you the chance to form long-lasting relationships with people from other countries, see how the rest of the world operates and learn things that you normally would not in your own country. You might find a better way of doing things while working abroad that could totally transform your career, but at the least you’ll have a unique encounter with a foreign land. Working in another country, rather than just visiting it, allows you to truly become apart of that culture and embrace every aspect of it.
Are you ready to work outside your own country? We’re here to show you how to apply for jobs abroad.
Psst! You should also read: The 10 Best Countries for Working Abroad
Step 1: Find a position
The first and probably most daunting task in applying for jobs abroad is actually finding a position that you can apply for. This is confusing, because there is no clear-cut model to finding work abroad, no website that lists every job open to Americans around the world and you probably won't have a lot of people in your life to go to for advice. But there are jobs out there, you just need to know where to look.
Networking is key to finding a job in every situation. These days networking is done the old fashion way - through word of mouth, friends and parties - as well as online. LinkedIn is a fantastic place to start to mingle with CEOs, startups, etc. and maybe even catch a few breaks on the job front.
Create a profile that stands out. Once your name, photo and details are online, you never know who will find you. But don't just sit back and watch - be proactive. Ask people who hire on behalf of prospective companies abroad to connect. Maybe even send them a message asking to pick at their brain. Look at the job listings every day based on your preferences. Also, join groups on LinkedIn as well as Facebook for people in your profession as well as other interests. A lot of times startups or employers from larger companies will post on online groups looking for applicants from around the world, because they don't want to pay recruiters to do it for them.
If you graduated from university, use your alumni association to create contacts. See what the rest of your fellow alums are doing. If any are working abroad, contact them and see how they found the position and if they known of any other companies looking for foreigners. Go to alumni event as well. In fact, go to as many events as possible for people in your field. Usually different parties and mingles will attract foreign visitors in the same career. Pick at their brain and form a relationship. You never know where one chat will lead you.
Don't just sit back and watch - be proactive. Ask people who hire on behalf of prospective companies abroad to connect. Look at the job listings every day based on your preferences.
Attend overseas job fairs. They do exist. Just google the phrases "overseas job fair" or "abroad job fair" then the name of your nearest city and you'll find events that are focused on it. There you'll be able to see what companies are recruiting people to work in their foreign offices. You could even go through an interview on the spot, but at the least you'll get your foot in the door.
Rather than just applying straight through, say a UK company, in hopes of moving to London, apply for jobs with US companies that have offices around the globe. Companies like Price Waterhouse and Cooper, Wells Fargo, Datacom, Hilton and Conde Nast are worldwide. They're looking for people willing to travel and move abroad in an array of positions too.
Understand that for some people, having to move abroad for a job is actually a bad thing, so apply for positions knowing that your willingness to do so is a huge asset. The only drawback of applying for foreign jobs this way is that you might have to wait a year or so to actually move abroad with your company. They’ll want to train you from their headquarters or see if you can handle the move before just sending you off.
This method is especially good for those who want to work in hotels. One of the biggest things an American hotel company needs when it opens a new location abroad is English speakers who know the company and how it works.
Job Search Engines
Just like at home, websites like Craigslist, Monster, and Gumtree are wonderful sources to finding work abroad, but it's key to go through your desired country's specific job search engines, so you're not going to be looking at Craigslist USA for a job in Australia. In fact, while Craigslist is helpful in several countries around the world, it's barely known in Australia. For this country, you'll want to use sites like Seek and Gumtree to search for jobs. Use this method to whatever countries you are hoping to apply in. Certain jobs will say in their description that they're open to sponsorship. Some websites even have a filter to help you search for companies looking for US citizens or English speakers specifically. But at the very least, you'll see where is actually hiring in foreign countries and you'll have a chance to get your name out there.
The US government probably offers more foreign jobs to its citizens than any private company and they also have an in on getting your visa sorted out with foreign agencies. Plus the US government almost always needs its own citizens to work for it at all times, so you won't be going up against people who are from the foreign country you are trying to work. Like in America, companies in foreign countries often try to hire citizens over foreigners - so that weakens your application to work with foreign companies.
This is not the case when applying for a job with the US government abroad. Searching and applying for foreign jobs through the US government is simple. Go to USAJobs.gov, type in the sort of job you are skilled in and country you wish to work and a listing of available positions will come up. You can apply directly through the website.
This option is risky, but it will definitely prove your determination. Basically, just show up in a country and start applying in-person or setting up interviews for while you're there. Though the internet is a fantastic source, nothing compares to actually being in a place and meeting people. While it's illegal to work in another country on a visitors visa, it's not illegal to look for work. However, you will probably be asked to leave the country while you sort out work permits and visas.
Study or Intern Abroad
A more structured way to get face-to-face with companies that are hiring in foreign lands is to either study or intern (or do both at the same time!) in a different country. There are endless study abroad and intern abroad options out there. If you know you eventually want to join a foreign workforce, use these opportunities to start getting your foot in the door.
An internship in a foreign city is your chance to prove how good a worker you are. Several different program providers, like AIFS and Hutong School, and IFSA-Butler, can actually set people up with internships abroad so they don't have to go through the hassle of finding one themselves and convincing human resources to take a chance on a foreigner. You can also apply to foreign internships through your university and/or do them in addition to studying abroad.
There are also visa options for people on an internship that are a lot easier to have approved than actual work permits. Make the most of this opportunity and at the end of it make it clear to your boss that you want to stay. You can even offer to pay for the sponsorship process if they are worried about that.
Studying abroad offers those same opportunities to either find an internship or at least make contacts for possible employers, but to guarantee yourself a spot working abroad - you should do your entire degree at a foreign college. Usually, if a country trains and educates you, they'll try to keep you there to work.
A lot of student visas, such as those in Australia, not only permit foreign students to work up to a certain amount of hours while in school, but also stick around for a year after graduating to work full time. Once you’re working full time somewhere or even have a reference from a company in the country, you’re in there perfect position to find sponsorship to stay on a working visa.
Entire agencies exist that work on behalf of foreign companies to find workers from around the world. Going through a recruitment agency cuts the hassle of actually looking for positions abroad and companies willing to sponsor, but it comes at a price. Make sure you read through any contract you sign with a recruitment agency as they will sometimes require a percentage of your future paychecks for finding you a job abroad. It might not be a lot, but just be aware of it. Recruiting agencies are very easy to find online. Just google a phrase like, “recruiters for foreign jobs” and contact agencies in your area.
Step 2: Send an application that suits your destination country
Once you find a position that you know you're right for, start applying. Easy as that, right?
Even if you speak the same language as the country where you’re applying for jobs, not everything runs that same way or is called the same name, so you have to do some research to make sure your application is on their terms. Otherwise, your application will go straight to the bottom of the pile.
This is not as hard as you would think thanks to the internet. If you're applying for a job in England, Google "how to apply for a job England". I don't say "resume England," because they actually call resumes curriculum vitae. It might seem pointless to get all these little things correct, but when you're going up against people who foreign companies can hire without worrying about their visa situation, you need to be perfect and you need to stand out. Search or even ask someone from the country if they add photos to their application, cover letters, etc. Also, spell everything the way they would in their country.
As a starting point, Elaina Giolando created a wonderful guide to creating a global resume that you could use for your international job hunt.
Further, make sure they have every means of contacting you and a way to contact your references other than by phone. Include email addresses, phone numbers and sign up for Skype, so you're prepared to do an interview online whenever that company contacts you.
Finally and most importantly, talk about why they should hire you as oppose to someone from their own country. What do you have that they don't? What makes you stand out and what will you bring to that job that they are missing at the moment? Hiring a foreign worker is a huge risk and one that could cost a company a lot of money, you need to assure them that you’re worth it and you're ready for it. Talk about your love for that place, their company and why you want to join their staff. Nothing excites an employer like someone who understands his company and believes in it.
Step 3: Go through the visa process
You got the job, but your work is not done yet. Visas and work permits take time and require a bit of money as well as a lot of information on your behalf. You'll be asked to submit medicals, police records and more. You'll have to have a passport, obviously, and you might have to visit the embassy for an interview. It's really important that you're aware of every part of the visa process as well as the correct forms to fill out before even searching for jobs. Once you actually find a job and they're willing to sponsor you - make sure you stay on top of the visa process and get everything done as soon as possible.
It's really important that you're aware of every part of the visa process as well as the correct forms to fill out before even searching for jobs.
Step 4: Turn the dream into a reality
The dream of working abroad seems impossible at first, but it will happen if you put your mind to it and refuse to quit. With companies being as global as they are today, it's almost a requirement that each has someone on staff that understands foreign markets. As an American, you understand one of the most financially important foreign markets in the world just by birthright.
Think about all the things you have to offer a foreign company or a US company abroad, but don't forget everything you can learn from them. Go through this process with confidence and don't be afraid of the word no. Understand that it's a lot of responsibility to take on a foreign worker no matter how much they have to offer, so a lot of companies will not even give you a second glance, but some will and that's where the opportunity to work abroad lies.
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