Finding work abroad
When your dream to move abroad becomes a reality, it’s time to take your head out of the clouds and start thinking about practicalities. One of the most important of these, is how you go about finding a job. There are lots of ‘useful’ articles on the web but I’ve found that they all focus on the same things; passport, VISA, finances… well duh! If you’re already planning your move then you already know about those (I hope!) so let’s focus on the nitty-gritty of finding and applying for work in a different country.
The successful transition starts with great communication
Let everyone know where you’re going and what you want to do when you get there.Network! Let everyone know where you’re going and what you want to do when you get there. Join social media job hunting groups for the location of your choice – but don’t just browse through the odd couple of posts – put yourself out there with a great personal introduction and then start connecting with people and making them your ‘friends’.
Valuable online tools for the serious job seeker are Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. There is an astonishing number of genuinely good and helpful people out there using social media to make a difference – these are the ones you want to connect with; they’re the ones who will help you to change your life. Watch out for the trolls *eye roll* and don’t let them put you off.
Know your options and be proactive
Don’t wait for jobs to become available and join the hundreds of other people flooding in applications.Find out which companies are recruiting in your new location via your new connections, Google each one to find out a bit about them and decide which ones you are interested in working for. Then go ahead and contact them. Don’t wait for jobs to become available and join the hundreds of other people flooding in applications. Write a brilliant letter of introduction full of personality and charm; showcase the skills you can bring to the table in an email to every HR/career department you can find, asking if they have any upcoming vacancies.
Another option is to look for UK companies that offer exchange programmes – these will likely be shorter terms adventures than securing your own job abroad, but it’s a great option if you’re at the ‘dipping your toe in the water’ stage.
Then there’s the bravest option of all – up sticks, leave and worry about a job when you get there. If you’ve got all your documentation sorted and enough money behind you to survive for a couple of months, then this option, whilst being gut-churningly scary, can really pay off. Many employers are far more easily persuaded that they need you on their team if they meet you face to face. Your options are wider too because you can literally hit the high street with your CV/resume and go door to door.
Choose your location with care and make sure you know the requirements – for example, you need a degree to secure a VISA to work in China but not in Europe. Knowing the little details and understanding your limitations (qualifications, culture, gender) will avoid disappointment further down the line.
Let’s talk about CVs/Résumés
Your CV is the first key to your success as it’s going to determine whether you’ll get your foot in the door for an interview, so it’s worth investing some time to make sure it’s perfect.If we’re being honest, it doesn’t matter too much where you are in the world; the job market is tough and competition is fierce. You need to make sure that your CV stands out, showcases your skills, is rich in industry specific keywords, is compatible with applicant tracking system automated recruitment and follows the rules.
Rules? Don’t panic, they’re simple… for example, in the UK, equality laws mean that employers prefer not to see any personal information on a CV – no date of birth, no photo, no nationality. However, throughout Europe these are good additions; the more the employer knows about you the more likely they are to get in touch.
Your CV is the first key to your success as it’s going to determine whether you’ll get your foot in the door for an interview, so it’s worth investing some time to make sure it’s perfect. The same principle applies to cover letters and/or online application forms. If you don’t know where to start then you might want to join the growing international trend of hiring a professional to do it for you. There are loads out there (seriously, Google it!) but – helpful as always – I’ve found a small, friendly CV service that I’d recommend, to help you to get started…
Yay! You’ve got an interview. Now what?
You need to know a bit about the cultural differences before you get started.It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to travel to every interview to conduct them face to face (although if you can, please do!) so be prepared to accept virtual interviews via Skype or Hangout. Don’t assume that these are any less formal than the real McCoy though. Dress appropriately, clear an attractive space in your most elegantly decorated room and choose a time when you can be alone. Remember, the employer won’t just see you, your home is on display too (yikes!) and piles of washing, kid’s toys and the occasional glimpse of scrapping siblings is not the image you want to portray. Consider choosing a quiet coffee shop with WiFi if you’re not 100% sure you can be uninterrupted at home.
Research comes in handy again here; language isn’t the only barrier if you are interviewing with a foreign company. They may have different expectations. The way you express your opinions and emotions is often open to interpretation and even more so without the benefit of body language. So, you need to know a bit about the cultural differences before you get started. For example, if you are an English or American woman interviewing for a position in the UAE, you need to know a bit about the clothing and demeanour that will be expected of you.
Keep your language simple and formal and don’t be afraid to rephrase something if necessary.You may find that your interview can be conducted in your native language, but even so you will have to think carefully about your choice of words. Take English as an example, it is the most varied language in the world, with many words and expressions used to mean something very different (wicked!). Many of those words are slang (or informal English) but have been integrated into everyday use. For example, ‘the bottom line’; we use it all the time in business speak to mean either the main point or the profit margin. Americans use it in the same way but in the rest of the world it has no equivalent. Keep your language simple and formal and don’t be afraid to rephrase something if necessary.
Get out there and see it for yourself.
Be prepared to schedule in a familiarisation trip. Once you have found your job opportunity, submitted your résumé and got through the interview, you still need to make an informed choice about whether this is the one. Try to provisionally accept the job offer and set up some dates for a site visit so you can feel more confident about your relocation.
Good luck with your job hunting! Please let me know how it goes in the comments below.
How to Expat
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