The world is becoming smaller as travel becomes more accessible and people use social media to share their cultural experiences in foreign lands. For many, a week-long trip isn’t enough to satisfy the travel bug. For many, living and working abroad is a wish they’d like to fulfill. Even during these uncertain times, when over 700,000 people have been infected with the novel coronavirus, both the desire and the need to work abroad still exist.
There are many reasons you may want to move abroad.
Some of the most common reasons people choose to move and work abroad include:
- A strong pull or kinship with a certain country, such as knowledge of the language.
- To rediscover origins or roots.
- A higher quality of life.
- A less expensive cost of living.
- For better health insurance benefits.
- The opportunity to travel more.
- To learn a language.
- To use your other languages if you’re bilingual.
- To expose children to other cultures and give them the opportunity to become citizens of the world.
- Because your career may be better paid or more sought-after in another country.
- To tap into a growing economy.
Regardless of the reason for a move overseas, practical considerations regarding your career and income need to be addressed. Think about the following career-related considerations before you move abroad.
1) Finding Employment Overseas
Before you pack up your life and move overseas, it’s best to go knowing you have a guaranteed position. It’s nearly impossible to get a job overseas simply by just “showing up.” Working on a tourist visa is against the law in nearly every country. And obtaining a work visa without having employment before you apply is not possible.
If you’re still willing to take a risk and move to the country of your choice to look for work, you may be in for a nasty surprise. Most employers are not willing to hire someone in the country who doesn’t have legal permission to live and work there. Besides, it will be much more challenging to qualify for a work visa from within the country — even if you find an interested employer. It’s best to look for a job from your home country and wait for your potential employer to handle the immigration paperwork before you move.
Luckily, securing a job abroad from your home country is easier than ever, thanks to the internet and video conferencing technology. Some ways to source employment abroad before you go include:
a) Within Your Current Company
If you have a target country you’d like to live in, look at career opportunities within your current employer first. Many major companies are now multinational corporations with offices worldwide. The human resources department at your job may have a list of positions overseas to which you can request a transfer.
Multinational corporations typically give priority to existing staff, even if it requires a transfer and relocation package because the employee already has a history with the company. The relocation package may cost your employer a considerable amount, but it may be more economical than training a new hire from the ground up.
The biggest advantage of getting transferred by your company from one country to another is that your company is more likely to cover the majority of the cost of the move. The process alone of professionally packing and moving your furniture and items overseas can cost thousands of dollars. A relocation package provided by a company usually covers the following for you and your family:
- Airfare and travel expenses.
- Cost of moving your furniture and goods.
- Help with finding new housing and schools, which may even include a cost of living allowance to cover part or all of your rent and children’s schools.
- Language classes.
- Some may cover the cost of obtaining visas, passports, and other travel documents.
b) Meet With International Headhunters or Recruitment Agencies
If your company doesn’t have international operations, you can reach out to a recruitment agency or an overseas placement consultant specializing in the country you’d like to relocate to. In most cases, recruiters have access to jobs that aren’t publicly advertised.
Larger companies hire placement consultants or recruiters to find and screen the best global candidates for open positions. Recruiters will actively look for employment candidates on behalf of international employers and will serve as your liaison, matching you with the right overseas employer and vice versa. An overseas placement consultant may also provide assistance in the search by adapting your resume to fall in line with what their clients are looking for and preparing you for interviews.
c) International Hiring Websites
Consider regularly checking job and career websites for work abroad. Indeed.com has a strong presence worldwide and is a great place to apply for current open positions, learn more about the job market of your choice, see what typical salaries and benefits packages look like, what fields have a high employment demand, and more.
d) Research Employment Visa Requirements
Moving overseas is a process wrapped in red tape. You’ll need a work visa for the country of your choice. Employers usually handle the work visa on your behalf. But if you’re not set on a specific country, consider researching the work visa requirements of a region in general. You’re also going to need a passport in case you want to travel from country to country in your region for holidays and vacations.
You may find that there are countries with shortages in specific careers who are willing to fast track visas, or even offer incentives for professionals in particular fields. Employers in those countries are more likely to be recruiting new international hires, knowing the government is willing to issue prospective hires’ work and resident visas more readily.
Some examples of countries that have manpower shortage and are actively recruiting foreign workers include:
- Japan has opened up work visas for blue-collar jobs in 13 industries including construction, agriculture, and fishing. As of publishing, Japan has placed these restrictions on travel across its borders.
- Norway is short on skilled workers and is willing to offer visas in a variety of fields including medicine, engineering, cooking, and more. The Norwegian Directorate of Health issued a 14-day quarantine for anyone who travels into the country from outside the Nordic countries.
- New Zealand is offering visas for shortages in the construction, infrastructure, health and social services, information technology (IT), telecommunications fields, and more. New Zealand has restricted nearly all incoming travel to Australians and its own citizens. In turn, Australia’s borders are open to its citizens as well as Kiwis.
2) Creating an Online Professional Presence That Will Stand Out From the Competition
If you’d like for international employers to notice your application, you’ll need to make sure your online presence as a professional is well-executed. It all starts with some research to make sure you have a clear understanding of the country’s cultural and professional practices.
Workplace policies, behavior, and professional achievements may be different from what you’re accustomed to in your home country. For example, the American workplace rewards individuality while the Chinese workplace rewards teamwork. Chinese professionals are more likely to downplay their achievements to come across as more modest. A Chinese employer may find an applicant who emphasizes their maverick attitude and individualistic awards and accolades as brash and therefore, the wrong fit.
Once you understand the workplace culture of the country you’d like to relocate to, craft your online professional persona to craft that message. There are several steps to getting it right.
i) Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is a good place to update your professional presence. Many international companies search the site looking for employees. Add keywords for your skills that would be pertinent for your industry to get found more easily. Visit the settings and allow recruiters to contact you to widen your reach.
ii) Your Resume or CV
Update your resume with recent qualifications, certifications, and more. Include a professional photograph. All job applications will require you to submit your resume.
iii) Your Company Profile
If your company has a page that lists key employees and executives, make sure your profile is included and up to date. Interested employers may look to see if the company you work for considers you a key asset worth mentioning on the company website.
iv) Language Skills
Especially if the position you’re seeking is in a country with a language that is not your native tongue, you should take extra care to highlight the fact that you speak that language if, in fact, you do.
While English is considered the international language of business, it behooves any non-native who lives and works in another country to have at least a working knowledge of the mother tongue. Because this can be a coveted skill in many countries, take special care to emphasize your skills.
3) Prepare to Nail the Interview
As you move along the job application process, you’ll start receiving interest from international employers. Because of the geographical distance, it’s likely you’ll interview by video conferencing or by having to produce a short, introductory video of yourself. Make sure to prepare ahead of time for video presentations by recording yourself answering common interview questions. Ask friends and mentors to give you feedback on your presentation and composure.
If your interviewer or interviewers speak another language, consider practicing a greeting in their native tongue. Even if you do not speak the language fluently, studying up on cultural norms such as bowing in Japan. It can even be as simple as saying “Cheers” to a Brit.
Remember, you’re communicating with an international employer whose language skills may be limited. Plus, the internet connection may not be as reliable, causing delays or quality issues. Make sure you’re well lit for the video chat. Be patient, and speak clearly but slowly.
4) Scout the Location Ahead of Time
If your move involves other family members, consider their needs before you start applying for work abroad or accept a job offer. A trip to the target city of choice for at least two weeks could be beneficial to you and your family’s future happiness.
Avoid seeing the trip as a family vacation. Rent an apartment and take the time to envision what it would be like to live there instead. Visit schools as a family, take advantage of the infrastructure by using public transportation, shopping at the supermarkets, and try to interact with the locals to confirm the city works for all your needs.
For the time being, since travel is out of the question, use technology to your advantage to research your potential new home. Virtual augmented reality can offer your family members trips to various locations around the globe just by popping in a cellphone or downloading a program. Now’s also the time to start teaching them to learn any languages they might be taught once they start school in their new country.
Younger children actually acquire languages, while the older we become, the more capable we are of understanding the rules of language. This is why immersive programs work well for younger children and they must be intensive for adults.
No matter your language skills or knowledge of your new country, once you’ve been offered a position, visit the company location and spend some time getting to know your potential coworkers to get an idea of what life would be like in a new country. Determine which area or neighborhood you’d like to live in and how long it would take you to commute to work each day. Chances are, moving your career abroad will be the most unforgettable experience of you and your family’s life.
Working abroad is a great opportunity for people and families with adventurous spirits. It offers cultural and economic growth for organizations as well as individuals. In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, it may not be prudent to look for a job abroad, but that does not preclude you from looking for one.
Planning ahead for when borders open and the economy rebounds are the best way to get ahead of competitors in the international job market. The more prepared you are, the higher your position in the race for that coveted job overseas.