The best ways to get your expat career off the ground

Published 2020-11-10 14:57:04
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It's never been easier to work abroad thanks to globalization and technological advancements (albeit the current coronavirus crisis of course!). Starting your expat career can be an exciting challenge that introduces you to new cultures and reinvigorates your working life. These are our top tips for getting your expat career off the ground.

Teaching Abroad

There are opportunities all over the world for teaching abroad and an easily-gained certificate can open up a vast range of opportunities. A TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) course can open up job opportunities across Asia and South America, often with competitive rates of pay.

Teaching English abroad is often perceived as an opportunity for young people to see the world. Whilst it's true that most TEFL recruits are new graduates, there are opportunities for teaching abroad for individuals of any age. Those with past teaching experience can transition into teaching English easily and anyone looking for a career change can gain a TEFL certificate with or without a previous academic background. The TEFL Job Search is a great way to get inspired.

An Internal Transfer

If you're already working within a company that has overseas branches, you can approach your superiors about a transfer. It's possible that there will be an opening in a similar role in an office abroad and you can make a horizontal transfer into the role. To demonstrate your interest - and suitability - you should thoroughly research the markets you'll be working with abroad. Don't assume that your old role and the knowledge it provides you will be enough - go above and beyond and you'll impress the higher ups.

While an international transfer is most suitable for individuals already working in multinational industries, many businesses with operations predominantly in one country will be interested in pursuing new markets. Researching how emergent markets are growing abroad can give you leverage within your organization to discuss opening new branches abroad. Globalization is generating markets across Africa and Asia that Western corporations haven't yet tapped into  - depending on your position within your current organization, masterminding a foreign branch could be your big break.


As many as 5 out of every 6 jobs are filled through networking as opposed to traditional recruitment processes, proving that connections are more important than ever. Whilst this might put you at a disadvantage in international job markets, proactive networking through global social sites such as LinkedIn can open up a whole range of opportunities. Thanks to virtual networking, foreign markets can be entered into without distance becoming a problem.

What's more, the world is smaller than it has ever been and it's likely you'll be able to find opportunities in other countries with the networks you've already developed. Looking up old college buddies or former colleagues who have made similar moves to see if they have insider info. Using the three Fs - friends, family, faculty - to pursue potential contacts. This organic approach can start out in an unrefined way - let's take an example:

Say you're looking for a career in Costa Rica, but you don't have any business contacts in the region. You can start by asking friends and family as well as old college contacts for potential networks they may have in Costa Rica - or even if they know someone who has been to the country. By pursuing knowledgeable individuals who might even be two degrees of separation away, you can make valuable contacts. Once you have a contact in the country of your choice, you can start off with an introduction: "my friend or colleague suggested that I contact you". This personal approach can get you through doors you may never have discovered otherwise.

You can also contact expat bloggers who will be pleased to share their experience aborad in your targeted country. You will find thousands of expat blogs on


If travel, adventure and freedom are the values you're looking for in your next challenge, then transitioning to a traditional 9 - 5 in a new place might not be the way to go. You could launch your expat career and your freelance career in one fell swoop. If you've got the skills, a freelance career can take you all over the globe.

There are so many ways to make your living as a freelancer that we can't cover them all here - but whether you have writing, coding or design skills, you can turn to freelancing. There are many sites which can connect you to clients from anywhere in the world. Usually those sites take a 3% process fee and a 10% commission on jobs done. Most popular ones (but highly competitive as each project posted will usually receive dozens of bids from freelancers across the world) include: Freelancer (the largest crowd-sourcing marketplace with ~50 million registered users), Malt (a European website for Germany, Spain and France), Upwork or Fiverr. SkillSoniq is a great alternative for US and Canada because it allows companies to hire local freelancers in their city / country with the option to convert them to their payroll.

Moving abroad is an exciting challenge. If you need a change of scenery you can start your expat career today. So pack your bags!

About the author

Katherine Rundell is a remote worker and writer at Buy Essay service. She has had a long career in HR and writes about career growth, networking and international transfer. Katherine has made her home in Oslo, Norway since 2018 but she's starting to get itchy feet...

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Author: Katherine Rundell

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