With unemployment now exceeding 10 percent in many states, the thought of working abroad is appealing to a greater number of jobseekers. Expanding a job search beyond the United States is certainly not for everyone. However, for those who love learning about other cultures, can communicate in multiple languages, or have specific in-demand skills, working in a foreign country can be a tremendous career opportunity.
Excluding military personnel, there are nearly 7 million Americans currently living in over 160 countries – many of whom relocated because of career opportunities. While lots of overseas employment assignments are government positions, there are also a growing number of jobs within companies that require a global workforce.
Of course, landing that perfect overseas job does entail somewhat more effort than simply dropping into a local employer and filling out an application. Instead, a multi-pronged strategy is needed to ready yourself for the global job market, seek out employers, and prepare for the transition to another country. While there are certainly more hurdles to overcome when deciding to work overseas, the rewards can be significant. If you’re ready to start an international job search, here are five strategies that will help you on your journey to success.
Create a Plan of Action
Start by creating a plan that highlights the industries or types of businesses that match your skill set and the methods you’ll utilize to find jobs. Consider whether you want to exclusively look for positions within the government, public companies, or private firms. You will also want to determine what corporate culture you are looking for and what geographic regions that you will focus on.
Overseas job hunting does require more effort and research. Take the time to investigate citizenship and work eligibility requirements and to assess your own cultural adaptability, foreign language skills, work experience and education. Don’t hesitate to fine tune skills or obtain additional education or training if necessary. For those who are still in school, investigate distance education, foreign exchange programs, as well as internship abroad opportunities.
Prepare for the Global Job Market
Regardless if you’re job search is domestic or international, you will need clear, concise job-search correspondence that markets your skills and background effectively. Most employers outside of the United States will require a curriculum vitas (CV), as opposed to a resume. In general, a CV is a longer, more detailed, chronological overview of your entire academic and professional history; usually longer than two pages.
A well-written cover letter is another must for any jobseeker. Take the time to write an attention-getting introductory paragraph explaining why you’re interested in the position. Make sure to weave into your text your most relevant skills and accomplishments. Don’t forget to close the letter with a request for an interview and always address the letter to a real person (hiring manager, human resources director, or other decision-maker).
Start Your Search
Thanks to the Internet, searching for international jobs has become substantially more efficient than before computers became a ubiquitous career development tool. There are many, useful job search sites that list open positions and provide helpful information such as employment trends, salary comparisons, CV writing assistance, and career advice. The Internet is also an extremely useful tool for researching companies, their competitors, and specific industry information.
Networking should be an equivalently important component to your job search. Consider all of your networking sources, including college connections, professional or trade organizations, and personal contacts. Utilize online networking sites such as Linkedin and ZoomInfo to alert others of your job search and to receive potential leads.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to companies, recruiters, and hiring agencies in the countries that you’re targeting by calling them directly. Fortunately, with the use of an internet phone service such as MediaRing Talk, you can make free and low-cost PC to phone calls
directly from your computer.
Get Ready to Interview
Most likely, you will have preliminary interviews via phone or video conferencing. Make sure that you’re prepared to communicate effectively given a variety of interview methods. If the interview will be conducted in another language, be confident about your speaking skills. Take the time to understand cultural differences that may be apparent during an interview and have the ability to show enthusiasm while discussing your skills, accomplishments, training, and education. Preparation is truly the key to having a successful interview. Be ready to talk articulately about the company and their industry and have questions ready to ask.
Follow up is another necessity. Write thank you notes post-interview and don’t hesitate to inquire about the status of the position or other positions within the company if they haven’t followed up with you.
Plan Your Move
While you can certainly find a job overseas from the comfort of your own home, you will dramatically increase your chances by meeting your employers in person. If you do have the financial capabilities, you may want to consider moving to the country where you want to work to ramp up your search efforts. Once you’re in your desired location, you can take advantage of face-to-face interviews, networking opportunities, internships, volunteering, and other activities that will help you on your career path.
Although overseas jobs are not an option for all jobseekers, they are a smart choice for individuals who want to enrich their lives with the unique experiences that go hand-in-hand with living abroad. There are career opportunities for those who are prepared to meet this unique career challenge and a wealth of new opportunities available to them.