International Job Search Strategies

Published 2012-09-07 13:47:55
Job search - Fotolia

You have always wanted to work abroad, but you have no experience. Or perhaps you're a trailing spouse wondering if you will be able to find work for yourself. It's true that finding a job abroad can be a challenge, but it's not impossible.

Visas and Work Permits

It goes without saying that you must have a proper work permit to work legally overseas. If you have a job offer in hand, your employer may sponsor your visa application. Otherwise, you must initiate your own application process to obtain a work permit for your new country, often long before you make the decision to move abroad. If you are married or living with a partner, you must also consider the effect an overseas move may have on your relationship. This is because in many cases, the so-called "trailing spouse" is allowed to accompany his or her spouse to an overseas assignment, but is not legally allowed to work in the new country.

To deal with this circumstance, research your options ahead of time. One possible alternative is to negotiate work assignments for both spouses in advance, either with the same company or with different companies. This option requires significant planning and more than a little luck, although it does eliminate the "trailing spouse" dilemma. Another option includes having the "trailing spouse" initiate his or her own work visa application independently. If you opt for this strategy, consult with your consulate or embassy to determine whether the application process can begin after you arrive in the new location or must begin before you leave your home country. Still another strategy is for the "trailing spouse" to pursue self employment. In some instances, self employed individuals may find it easier to obtain a work permit; in other instances, a work permit is not required for self employed workers. Inquire with your embassy or consulate for the exact regulations for your new country.

How to Prepare

If you don't have a job offer in hand, the first step is to make sure your curriculum vitae, résumé and cover letter are polished to perfection. If you have foreign language skills, study abroad experience, or both, you have an advantage over the competition.

    You can find possible job leads through:
  • Internet Resources
  • Volunteer Organizations
  • Clearinghouse
  • Social Networking
  • College or University listings
  • Personal Contacts
  • Search for an International company with branches in the country you wish to live in
  • Or create your own international job!

Internet Resources

Before the days of the Internet, finding international job listings was a chore, especially if you did not have personal contacts. Today, international job boards, employment agencies and other resources are plentiful. Career oriented websites like Quintessential Careers and Monster provide both general job listings searchable by country, experience level and career field and specialized job listings. EasyExpat international job listings are also a great resource for finding a job abroad.

Using keywords like "international job listings" or "job title" and "country" can help you find an international position. If you employ this strategy, check out any job listings or company information you may find before submitting your credentials. If a company or listing seems questionable, err on the side of caution and skip it.

Volunteer Organizations

If you're willing to work for minimal wages, many volunteer abroad organizations provide workers with room and board. Some also provide a living stipend either during your volunteer assignment or after you've completed your work. Available work assignments vary from manual labor to highly skilled professional duties.


Another possibility is to enlist with a clearinghouse that matches candidates with available jobs. Such services also often take care of obtaining necessary work permits for their clients. The jobs that are available are often service oriented jobs, and you may be required to pay a fee, but if you are more concerned with living in a particular country than with the type of work you do, such services are a viable option.

Social Networking

Social networking platforms like LinkedIn or Xing represent a rich resource for international job listings. Take advantage of the job search function to search for job leads in countries where you want to work, or for companies for which you would like to work. Join groups within the social networking platform that include international job listings, as well as discussion boards. Reach out to your connections within LinkedIn for introductions to company officers at companies that interest you. A more indirect strategy to draw attention to your profile and broaden your potential reach is to post questions relating to international work, and follow up with personal responses to those who respond to your question.

More social networks like Facebook and Twitter can also help you reach out to contacts and find work. People you know may know of positions you are eligible for, or put you in contact with people who do.

College and University Listings

If you attended classes at a college or university, that should be one of the first laces you look for international job opportunities. Many college and university career offices have job listings that are searchable by region as well as by type of work and required experience levels that are exclusively available to their students and alumni. You may also be able to make connections with alumni who are working abroad - not to ask directly for a job, but to inquire about possible leads within their companies or elsewhere.

Personal Contacts

You would be far from the first person to find an international position through personal contacts. If you've traveled abroad, or simply made friends or acquaintances with people from countries where you would like to work, you have personal contacts who can possibly lead to an international job. Ask your contacts for advice on how to conduct job searches in their countries: whether you need a CV or a résumé, or what degrees are in particular demand. Of course, if your contacts have information about particular job listings, that's terrific, but don't press for that. Instead, ask them to pass along your credentials to people that they know who might be able to provide information on possible job leads.

Create Your Own Job

Are you self employed? Do you conduct most or all of your work over the Internet? If so, you may be able to work abroad without obtaining a work permit, although you may need to demonstrate that you are able to financially support yourself through tax returns or other evidence. Other self employed individuals, such as tutors or personal trainers, might be able to continue working overseas by obtaining a special work permit. Do the research on whether you can work overseas well before your departure date. Especially if you need a work permit, the process may require several months or even years to complete, during which time you won't be allowed to work legally.

For other ideas about working for yourself, consult EasyExpat's article on Location Independent careers. Also consider writing a blog and connecting with expats as they can offer excellent support and advice. Add your expat blog to BlogExpat and find expats in your area through the network.

Researched by Audrey Henderson
-- freelance writer based in Chicago

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Author: EasyExpat
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