The idea of working abroad appeals to a broad range of people, from students who have just left university and want an adventure before they start work at home to those who are frustrated with their jobs and just fancy a change.
There’s no doubt that moving overseas can be a liberating and rewarding experience. But there are also lots of things to consider: visa and work permit issues, job availability and language barriers to mention a few.
If your mind is made up, there are two basic routes you can take: you can either try to secure a job in a country you would like to work in, or you can take a risk and move to a place and then try to find employment. Either way, here are some tips about things you should be giving serious consideration.
1. Investigate visas
Fancy working on a ‘working holiday’ in Sydney? Copyright CC User Ryan Wick on Flickr
Before you settle on a country, research the legal situation regarding working there. If you find employment with a company, they will usually help with sorting out a visa but don’t take this as a given.
If you’re going to seek freelance work, check out what paperwork you will need. Some countries like the United Kingdom and Australia have reciprocal arrangements whereby young people aged between 18-31 can apply for a ‘working holiday’ visa, enabling them to seek employment for up to a year.
Many people do find work without having the ‘right’ paperwork and are either paid in cash or provided with accommodation, or other benefits, in lieu of wages. Be aware, though, that if the authorities find out and decide to act, they may expel you – or even start legal proceedings. Is it worth the risk?
2. Be prepared
Before you leave home, get your resume up to date and have some decent, professional photographs taken. Many countries, especially in Asia, will ask for photos with your application. An image of you hanging out with in beach shorts, beer in hand, is not going to cut it.
Don’t neglect your online presence either. Make sure your profile on professional sites like LinkedIn is looking good. If you’re after a job in marketing, copy writing, public relations, etc. have samples of your work formatted and ready to send as examples. Likewise references – provide scans of any testimonials you have.
3. Start as an Intern
Internships can be a great way to make contacts – and friends. Copyright CC User Tristan Nitot on Flickr
Internships can be a great way of getting your foot in the door, gaining experience and making contacts. Many placements are unpaid, so you’ll have to factor that into how long you can afford to undertake one. But, if you do a good job, you might be offered a salaried position. It’s all about trying to put yourself in the right place and hoping for the best.
4. Train as an ESL teacher
ESL teaching is a popular route to working abroad, Copyright CC User Rex Pe on Flickr
One of the most popular routes to working abroad or volunteering aboard is as an English language teacher. There’s a huge demand for these in many countries around the world.
Once trained, you can apply through an agency or contact language schools directly before you leave home. Alternatively, you just turn up somewhere and start touting yourself around. Even if you don’t want a lifelong career as an ESL teacher, it’s often a good way to start living abroad as it’s a great way to meet lots of people, get to know a culture and learn the language.
5. Get relevant work experience
Think about this before you leave. If you’re planning to try to find work in a bar or restaurant abroad, prepare by securing some shifts in one at home. Future employers are almost certain to ask what experience you have and saying ‘none’ is probably not going to get you very far.
6. Network, network, network
Networking in San Francisco, Copyright CC User Dave Fayram on Flickr
These days LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook have opened up a new world of possibilities for networking. Join as many groups as you can find related to the field you want to work in, especially in the country in which you wish to be based. Try to participate creatively and get noticed positively. Be open about the fact that you are seeking work. Thinking about volunteering to assist on projects that people mention and are of interest to you.
Joining social groups where you might meet like-minded people is also a good idea, be it a basketball league or amateur theatre group. People often ask their friends for recommendations when hiring staff and the more contacts you have, the more likely that one of those recommendations is going to be you.
7. Go for it
The single most important quality that will equip you to finding a job is determination. You will probably receive many knock-backs, but if you’re really committed to working abroad, you will make it happen.
This is written by Alex Bradbeer, the creator and author of Finding The Freedom, an adventure travel blog focused on adventure and crazy off the beaten path destinations.