4 Tips for Finding Work Abroad

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It can be challenging to find jobs abroad. There are quite a few obstacles, namely: language barriers and differences in expected qualifications and degree classifications. In the U.S. and Canada, an individual's degree often does not match the field he or she pursues. In European countries, as well as many others around the world, people are employed in their area of study.

Here are a few tips for overcoming these obstacles to find a job overseas:

Identify the challenges. The first thing you need to do is research the region or target country to uncover the differences in job application practices from your home country. Are you expected to have a longer, more in-depth CV, or is a résumé acceptable? Is there a language you should begin learning before you try to apply to jobs in this country?Sometimes you need to have your degrees translated and notarized by authorities in order for them to be considered valid. If you have a license to practice in your field in your country, it may not translate across borders, and you may have to recertify in your new country before getting a job.

In the U.S. and many other countries, employers have to justify hiring foreign citizens by stating why they cannot find a local citizen who meets the job requirements. If you're not in a specialized field or do not possess a specialized degree, this can be hard for an employer to do. When you search for jobs, pay attention to whether an employer is willing or not to sponsor a work visa or permit. This is often explicitly stated in a job posting, and you shouldn't waste your time applying for jobs that you cannot be considered for.

Consider the possibilities. There are a variety of ways to get a job overseas. One is to transfer abroad with your current firm, if that's a possibility. This is most certainly the easiest option, because you may get additional support that you wouldn't receive by doing it on your own. Also, you have the benefit of knowing your organization, which makes the switch easier.

A second option is to search for postings online. One good resource is RileyGuide.com, which has an international job-search section that breaks down resources by region. Another site to check out is iHipo.com, which features jobs and internships overseas for students and graduates.

A third option that will give you more promising results than simply applying to postings online is to network. Search your alumni networks and LinkedIn connections (and several degrees out) for people who work overseas. Reach out to ask them to talk about their experiences and any recommendations they have for you in your quest to find a job abroad.

Volunteering is a great way to go overseas and work and can be extremely eye-opening and rewarding. Two sites that offer opportunities in different countries include IFREVolunteers.org and CrossCulturalSolutions.org. Some even include family volunteer options.

Apply right. When you're ready to apply for a job, whether it's internal to your firm or external, follow your research. If the posting doesn't state whether they expect to receive a CV or résumé, try to contact the human resources department and ask. In most fields, you won't go wrong by using a one- to two-page résumé that covers your primary skills, jobs over the past 10 years and achievements. A CV and résumé are similar in that they should both sell you – what value do you offer to the role and company?

Let the employer know in a cover letter and/or email that you have researched working in their country and are prepared to pull together everything necessary.

Be savvy. When scheduling and showing up for phone or video interviews, make sure you are conscious of time differences and are available and presentable at the correct time. They will most certainly be interested in hearing more about why you want to live and work abroad, and why you can succeed in doing so. It's a big risk for an organization to hire someone who has not worked overseas before. You should use examples in your answer that illustrate how you are adaptable and flexible and show you can succeed working in a foreign environment.

Finding jobs abroad is not easy. It can be much simpler when you are physically in a country already. However, even then you need to be aware of local regulations that may hinder the process or make it more difficult to find a job.

The best thing you can do is network with people who can advise you about the work situation in the country. That way you will be prepared as you apply to postings and try to get your foot in the door to make a big international move.

Marcelle Yeager is the president of Career Valet, which delivers personalized career navigation services, and founder of ServingTalent, a recruitment and placement firm that matches military and government spouses with employers. She worked for over 10 years as a strategic communications consultant, including four years overseas. Marcelle holds an MBA from the University of Maryland.
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