6 Tips for Your International Job Search

by / ⠀Career Advice Travel / March 7, 2014


Let’s face it-

The job market isn’t what it used to be. With limited job opportunities, qualified and talented individuals simply can’t find work in the U.S.

So instead of wishful thinking…

Some people are taking their job hunt internationally to places like Europe and Asia, in hopes of a better chance. Working and living abroad is not only a viable option, but there are hidden benefits such as paying fewer taxes, learning a new culture and language, and building your resume.

If you’re looking for a job, read these six tips for a successful international job search that will have employers beating down your door…

1. Define Your Goals

Before beginning your international job search, write down your goals to keep your job search on track.

Ask yourself:

  • How long am I planning on working?
  • How will the experience contribute to my professional, personal and/or academic goals?
  • Am I open to all options or certain jobs / locations?
  • What type position am I looking for (e.g. permanent/full-time position, a volunteer experience or short-term employment)?
  • Will my partner and/or children come with me or stay home?
  • What medical conditions do I have that may need attention?
  • What is my international living budget and how much will I have to make to live on?
  • Do I want to work for an American or international company?

Answering these questions will help you identify exactly what you’re looking for in your job search.

2. Determine a Destination

Now for the fun part…

There are a few ways to determine the country you’d like to move to:

1. Chose a company you’d like to work for and then research their international offices.

2. Pick a country you’ve always wanted to move to and then search for a job.

3. Throw a dart at a map. 

But before you book your tickets, answer these country specific questions:

  • What’s the cost of living and will I be able to afford it?  Don’t forget to budget for:
    • Weekend travel.  Those trips can add up fast.
    • New wardrobe for new weather and seasons.  More on that…
    • How’s the weather?  Sure it might sound fun to live in a country with completely different weather, but be realistic about your comfort level.  You won’t be able to change your mind once you’re there.
    • What’s the current state of the economy?  If you’ll be paid in foreign currency and plan to save money before your trip home, the economy can greatly impact the conversion rate and adjust your savings not only by hundreds, but thousands of dollars.
    • Are crime and security an issue?  The last thing you want is to be trapped in an office or apartment the entire duration of your trip due to a fear of going outside.  Research the areas surrounding your potential office and home to make sure it’s relatively safe to enjoy.
    • How will I get health care?  In any travel situation it’s good to have a worst-case-scenario plan.  The same goes with health care.  Research the health care system get an idea of the monthly costs and process to see a doctor.
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3. Update and Leverage Social Networks

According to Career Builder, “Thirty-seven percent of companies use social networks to research potential job candidates.”

While it might sound obvious, don’t post anything questionable or if you have, delete it from your history.  No employer wants to hire someone holding a beer bong at a party.

Update your social network profiles, especially LinkedIn, with your skills, qualifications, and that you’re looking for international work.  List the countries you’d like to relocate to.

Leverage your contacts and networks to see if your coworkers, family and friends know of any international job opportunities.  International contacts, particularly those in Human Resources, can be especially helpful in providing local job search websites and tips for tailoring your resume and Curriculum Vitae (CV)…

4. Tailor Your Resume and CV

Here’s the thing…

Resumes and CVs are not created equal.

Resumes are most common in North American countries and the like (i.e. Australia, New Zealand, U.K., Hong Kong and Singapore).  They are short (only one to two pages) and list your objectives, experience, and qualifications.

CVs are common in Europe and are much longer (three to five pages) and tell a story about who you are, your work experience (in chronological order) and qualifications.

Showcase your skills that differentiate you as an international candidate including knowing foreign languages or having relationships/contacts in certain regions or with certain companies.

If you’ve already been approved for a work visa, state that on the resume.  It’s one less barrier for the employer.

5. Find and Apply for a Job

To find a job by location or region, use Monster, Indeed and/or Craigslist to get started.  To search by company, use Global 500 – a ranking of the world’s largest corporations – where you can also search by location.  For NGOs, job boards and more, The U.S. Department of State has a great list of international job resources.

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After you’ve found a job and tailored your resume or CV, it’s time to apply.

Submit your resume or CV and cover letter.  If you don’t hear back, follow up within 10 days.  Do NOT skip this step.  If you still haven’t heard back, follow up again after another 10 days.  There’s nothing to lose and it shows initiative.

When you get a call back…

6. Prepare for the Interview

There’s nothing like getting a call back to brighten your day, but you don’t have the job yet…

Chances are your potential employer will schedule a Skype call for the interview. If you’re unfamiliar with Skype, watch their online training videos to learn how to manage audio, video and screen.

Before the call…

  • Exchange your Skype contact information and interview logistics via email.
  • Research the country business etiquette such as appearance, behavior and communication to ensure you don’t embarrass yourself or, worse, the potential employer during the interview.
  • Understand the visa requirements to field any questions.  Some countries, require you to have a job offer before issuing a visa while others don’t.  For example, visas in Brazil are applied for by the company offering the job, while in France the employee must apply once the job has been accepted.
  • Know the company and job description like the back of your hand.  Have a list of questions ready for the employer regarding the job, country and relocation process.

When it’s time for the interview, have the call in a quiet room, turn your cell to vibrate, and wear professional attire.

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Overwhelmed yet?  Don’t be.

By following these seven steps and maintaining an open mind you’ll encounter countless international job opportunities.

Have you worked internationally?  Share your advice in the comments below…

Ceci Chalasani is a writer for Trekity.com – a website inspiring women to travel the world.  She studied abroad at universities in Grenoble, France and is a budget-conscious traveler with a passion for great deals.  Visit Trekity.com and join the growing community of traveling women.

Image Credit: tomorrowsmanagers.latribune.fr 

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on Under30CEO.com, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.


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