12 tips for finding a job abroad

12 tips for finding a job abroad

Although the vast majority of my clients are looking for a job in the country they are already in, I come across a growing number of people who are trying to get a job abroad. I have worked with a German lady in Zurich looking for a job in Amsterdam, for example, and an Italian expat based in The Hague wanting to relocate to the Middle East.

Although finding a job abroad is more difficult than finding one where you already live, it is definitely possible and becomes more and more common in our globally-connected economy.

Below you will find a list of 12 tips that will increase your chances of getting hired abroad.

1. Start your search with clarity

First up, you need to be crystal clear on what you’re looking for. Why is it important? Being clear to yourself on what you want will help you to stay focused. Looking for a job abroad is already difficult enough and it’s easy to become overwhelmed in the sea of opportunities. By staying focused, you drastically increase your chance of success.

Secondly, it will be easier to communicate to others what you are looking for, making it much easier for people to help you.

Start by making a list of the following:

  • Countries you want to move to
  • Jobs you want to pursue
  • Industries you are interested in

2. Work out what you’re offering

Next up, it’s time to think about your “Unique Selling Points” - your talents, skills and experience. Once you are clear about what kind of job you are looking for and where you want to go, you need to think why the company would want to take a chance and hire you and not a local person.

What do you have to offer that makes you an irresistible candidate? Make a list of your top talents, skills, knowledge and experience.

3. The internet is your friend - use it

Normally, I tell my clients not to spend too much time on the internet when looking for a job, but searching abroad is a whole different situation. You need to spend enough time on the internet to find out if there are any jobs out there that fit your profile. Who can help you? Where can you go for help?

Below, I go into more detail about what steps you need to take on the internet to make your international job search more effective.

4. Learn about life in your destination country

First things first, you need to get a clearer picture of your destination country. You need to know if the country you’re considering moving to is not only one you want to work in, but also live in. 

Read about relocation procedures, customs, culture and politics. Contact people who have moved from abroad to this country to check their opinion, learn from their mistakes or listen to their advice.

5. Find out about the job market 

It also makes sense to test the viability of your plans by doing some research on the job market in your destination country. Although nothing in life is ever impossible (in my opinion), it does make sense to check if the job you are looking for is on the market in your selected country.

Make sure to find out the practices of the local labour market such as the use of CVs, cover letters, main jobs boards, and recruiting agents.

6. Write down your 20 top employers

You might get lucky and be able to transfer with your current employer to your destination of choice. If you work for an international company, consider the possibility of moving abroad through your current employer. 

If this isn’t an option, make a list of the top 20 companies you would like to work for, in an ideal world. Research them thoroughly on the internet and investigate your network for people who are working there. The more focused your search is, the better!

7. Ask your network for help

In all likelihood, you’ve got contacts spread all over the world - now’s the time to use them. Let everyone in your network know that you are looking for a job abroad and ask for help. They might know people who already moved there or who work for the companies you highlighted in step 6. 

This will definitely help you to save time job searching and to get connected to the right people fast.

8. Form new connections outside your network

If your own network isn’t giving you the goods, it’s time to start casting a wider net. Start connecting with relevant people you do not know yet but are connected to your destination country or industry. The best way to do this is through LinkedIn. 

Look for career coaches, relocation consultants, international recruiters, hiring managers and other expats who moved abroad. An easy way to look for expats is by using LinkedIn groups.

9. Establish the right mindset

Looking for a job abroad is not easy. In order to be successful, you need to stay positive and focused. It will often happen that things will not work out as planned and you will get frustrated.

Remember why you started this process in the first place and the advantages and rewards. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people who can cheer you up. Invent a positive mantra for your job search and make sure you read it to yourself daily.

10. Keep your clear goals in mind

Maintaining a positive mindset is also much easier when you have clear, achievable goals. Nothing helps you to stay focused better than clearly set goals. 

Decide the date by which you want to move abroad, in best- and worst-case scenarios. Make a plan of when you want to accomplish certain steps and stick to it.

11. Take a language class

Although it’s certainly possible to find a job abroad only knowing English, it can greatly help your chances of getting hired if you speak another language - ideally the native language of the country you’re heading to. 

Even if your job will have nothing to do with languages, it will demonstrate your proactive attitude. Often attitude is something that will set you apart from other candidates.

12. Take a trip

You might have fallen in love with your destination country on holiday several years ago, so it’s a good idea to refresh your memory - and take your job search up a notch. Depending on your finances, it can be worthwhile to visit the country you are interested in. 

While you’re there, make sure to plan a couple of meetings with international recruiters, experts and definitely visit some local networking events for expats and internationals. People will be more willing to help if they see your face and know you directly. 

If it is not possible to visit the country, consider scheduling Skype calls with people who can help.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for your successful job search abroad! Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions related to this topic.

This article originally appeared on IamExpat in the Netherlands. 

Dorota Klop-Sowinska


Dorota Klop-Sowinska

Official Member of Forbes Coaches Council. I specialize in international career and expat coaching. I am the author of the book Career Jump! How to Successfully Change Your Professional Path...

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