Whether you majored in international studies or love to travel, an overseas job can open up career and cultural growth opportunities. If you’re interested in working in a foreign country, you’ll need to tweak your job search strategy to stand out amongst the local competition.
How to Effectively Land a Great Job Overseas
Getting a job in a new country can be more challenging than at home, but finding a career doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are 10 ways to make your international job search easier.
1. Develop an Unstoppable Job Search Strategy
Any goal with a strategy is more likely to succeed, especially when swimming in uncharted waters. You likely don’t know how to search for a job in a new country. How you approach international work can make all the difference in your overall experience and success.
To create an unstoppable strategy, utilize various job search tools, such as:
- Cold-calling or emailing
- Networking (coworkers, supervisors, family, friends, etc.)
- Job sites (for both general and international sites)
- Corporate websites (use company career centers)
- Government sources (trade offices, embassies, agencies, etc.)
- Recruiters (search by geographic location and discipline)
- International job fairs (online and offline)
To narrow down your search with these tools, determine if you want to work for public or private firms in the foreign, international, or domestic space. Corporate culture can (and should) play a big part in your job strategy, so be sure to read employer review sites, like JobSage.
2. Make a List of Jobs You Want to Pursue
Inexperienced job seekers typically don’t focus their search. While this may not be a big problem for domestic jobs, it’s a major issue for international employment. Finding a foreign employer isn’t just about the culture and excitement, it’s also about job titles and requirements.
To give more consideration to what type of job you’re seeking, go back to square one. Ask yourself why you’re interested in an overseas job beyond relocating. Then, review your skills, college courses, degrees, certificates, accomplishments, and volunteer experiences.
At this point, you should have a profile of the type of jobs you can look for. Be as specific as possible because you’ll want to fill a position that appeals to your strengths.
3. Narrow Your Search to Potential Jobs, Companies, and Countries
Create a spreadsheet and fill it with important information you’ll need to transfer, like job skills, experience, and titles. You’ll need to research your countries of interest to develop an accurate list. From here, you can compare and contrast different opportunities globally.
Keep in mind that the easiest way to get an international job is by working for a domestic company and asking for a transfer. Still, most foreign companies take experienced employees.
4. Develop and/or Acquire Key Job and Language Skills
By now, you should have chosen a country and a preferred job title. Your job title and skill set should be a great match, or you only need a few more skills to be perfect for the role.
Most employers desire cross-cultural adaptability, language fluency, and technical knowledge in their foreign candidates, so focus on refining them if you’re lacking in these areas. At the same time, you should develop more on your current skill set to stand out from the local competition.
Job seekers who are still in school should look at distance education programs. Not only will you get international experience, but you’ll also develop a better understanding of the country.
5. Prepare for International Correspondence
International correspondence can feel pretty intimidating, but you can prepare for it by researching the country’s culture. This research can also help you make a better resume.
For example, U.S. resume templates don’t include photos due to antidiscrimination laws. But if you’re applying in Austria, France, the Middle East, Asia, or Africa, it’s recommended to add a photo. If you don’t, the employer will instantly know you’re unfamiliar with their customs.
Although most countries handle resumes differently, the same cover letter rules apply:
- Address the cover letter to the hiring manager.
- Write an enticing first paragraph explaining why you’re a good fit.
- Explain why your skills and education match the employer’s needs.
- The final section should ask the hiring manager for an interview.
Most foreign countries prefer the curriculum vitae (CV) over the resume, but that isn’t always the case. Look up what each country prefers before sending off resumes to prospective employers.
6. Build Up Your International and Local Networks
Networking is essential for all jobs, but it becomes crucial in an international market. If you already know someone who works in a foreign company, ask them for any job leads, comments on the country’s work culture, and places you can go to develop additional connections.
Take advantage of your entire network because everyone will have their own unique experience. For example, a woman may not feel safe in a country where a man might.
7. Get Ready for Your (Likely Virtual) Interview
You’ll have to show enthusiasm on the top half of your body, in your voice, and in your language. Avoid typical interviewing and cultural faux pas. Make sure to dress well for the interview and practice several times before the big day. Ask questions at the end of the call.
8. Always Send a Thank-You Email or Phone Call
It’s essential to send a thank-you email or phone call at the end of the interview, but you should also follow up on any job leads of interest. When you do, you stay in an employer’s mind.
Here are some best practices for follow-ups:
- Send the follow-up a few hours after the interview
- Show enthusiasm about the position
- Don’t address them in a casual way
- Reiterate the position you’re interviewing for
- Never overexplain or suck up
- Share a memorable moment from the interview
- Check your spelling (for emails)
While you should sound assertive in your follow-ups, try not to come across as too aggressive.
9. Consider Getting a Bachelor’s/Graduate Degree
Foreign employers tend to look at bachelor’s degrees as more valuable than U.S. employers if you can believe it. At the same time, foreign employers are more likely to ask for a graduate degree since they have a pool of other candidates with degrees who already fit in the culture.
You typically have to go that extra mile to impress international companies, so you may need to get a bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD to work in a similar job title, field, or industry overseas.
10. Decide Whether You Want to Move Abroad
Thanks to our fully connected world, most of us don’t have to leave home to get an international job. However, if you want to live and work abroad, you’ll need to plan well in advance. You also need to tell your potential employers that you’re willing to move in the next three months.
After you move, make sure you keep a lifeline back home if your move doesn’t work out. Having a guaranteed place to stay if you return will make the move feel less risky and scary.
Expand Your Career Opportunities Through Foreign Employment
While preparing for an international job transfer or a foreign career takes a lot of time and effort, you’ll benefit from multiple job opportunities, career growth, and a new experience. Prior research puts you in the best position to find an employer that checks all your boxes.
About the author…
A growth hacker at heart, Jess Perkins helps SaaS companies rapidly scale their inbound leads through lean marketing strategies. She views content marketing and advertising as the perfect concoction of growth and loves to write about her insights and experiences.
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