Written by Christopher Nye,
3rd December 2019

If you’re happy with your career but fancy a change of scene, finding a job abroad should be the first step on your emigration journey. Lots of countries around the world need talented and established professionals in fields like teaching, accounting and engineering, and there are heaps of global opportunities for tradespeople too. 

Whatever your niche – and wherever you want to go – our quick guide to job-hunting overseas will help you make the first step.

Research the local job market

Start by browsing LinkedIn to see how popular your industry is in the city you want to move to. Look out for 2nd and 3rd level connections – these are people who know someone that you’re already connected to. It’s often worth asking for an introduction so you can pick their brains about the job landscape. As well as being a useful foot in the door with recruitment, they could be a friendly face once you arrive.

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Next, head to Glassdoor and look at the average salary range for your role. Bear in mind that the figures may look a lot higher or lower than what you’re used to in the UK, so compare it against cost of living using our surveys. For example, what would be a massive salary in Scotland might not go very far in New York.

Find out how to look for a job overseas with our top tips.

Find out how to look for a job overseas with our top tips.

Your next step is seeing how many jobs are currently available. LinkedIn comes in handy again here, as you can search for roles based on location. There are also job boards that cater towards expats – Indeed and Monster both have worldwide landing pages where you can search for work around the world.

Adapt your CV to fit local norms

It’s good practice to revisit your CV every time you apply for a new role, but when you’re stepping into a foreign job market you might need to rewrite it completely. Every country has their own way of doing things, so spend some time reading up on the rules, regulations and local customs in the place you want to move to.

For example it’s customary in France, Germany and the United Arab Emirates to include a passport-sized photo of yourself, but in other places – like the UK, Australia and USA – this breaches discrimination laws. 

The amount of weight you put on each section will also differ from place to place. For example, in Australia, CVs are achievement oriented and highlight your unique skills and values. Even the format can change: in some countries, like Singapore, you’re expected to include a mission statement. 

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While reverse chronological order is the norm in the UK, India prefers a functional CV which groups experience by context rather than date. If you’re applying for a job in Europe, you’ll be expected to use the Europass template – this structure is used throughout the EU to make it easy for job-hunters to move around.

No matter where you’re applying for your job, there are a few rules that apply everywhere:

  • Keep it concise: two pages is more than enough
  • Keep it simple: infographic CVs may look impressive, but they play havoc with automatic resume readers 
  • Keep it readable: use a sans-serif font like verdana, arial or calibri 

Put your paperwork in order

Finding a job abroad might mean getting a few new qualifications, updating your old ones or – if you’re moving to a place where English isn’t the first language – translating them. 

Check to see if there are any qualifications you might be missing. For example, if you’re planning to move to the Republic of Ireland as a primary school teacher, you need to have a Leaving Certificate Higher C3 level or equivalent certification in the Irish language. You’ll also need to be fluent enough to pass a speaking exam as part of your interview. Trades and medicine are also highly regulated in every country, so it’s important to make sure you’re up to date before you start applying for roles.

Apply for your visa

You need a Visa to legally live in most countries. At the moment Brits moving to European Union countries don’t need one, but if Brexit goes ahead then that could change. You’ll need to have a job offer in place before you can apply. There are a few exceptions, such as the USA’s Nonimmigrant Work Visa and Austraila’s Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (Subclass 482) which both allow you to stay in the country during your job hunt.

It’s important to find an employer that is able and willing to sponsor your Visa, so look for companies with experience of hiring foreign workers. Larger organisations will have legal teams who know how to navigate tricky immigration laws, while small start-ups may have a surprising amount of foreign nationals on board. It’s best to be honest about your need for visa sponsorship as soon as you apply for your role.

One of the best tools in your arsenal is word of mouth. Ask around your network to find out if anyone you know has a friend or colleague who has already made the move. Connecting with them will give you valuable information about which companies are hiring – they might even be able to put you in touch with their human resources department.

Ask for a transfer

If you enjoy your current role and work for a multinational company, finding a job abroad might be as simple as asking for one. Although it might not be instant, registering your interest in an overseas transfer could result in the chance to follow your emigration dream. 

It’s one of the easiest ways to do things – as well as having full support from your company in terms of relocation, you also get to avoid a lot of the admin tasks we’ve just mentioned. You don’t need to change your CV or find a Visa sponsor, and it’s likely your manager will help you through any new qualifications you need to get.

It’s also a good way to ‘try before you buy’. Some major firms, like Deloitte, offer employees the chance to work from their foreign offices for one to three years. These rotational assignments give you a taste of expat life in the country of your choice, while also offering an escape route if you want to come home.

The downside is that you’re limited to the cities and countries where your employer has a presence – and where they need you. Before you ask for a transfer, consider the structure of the global offices to work out where you’ll end up. You could get lucky and end up New York, Paris or Dubai but it’s equally likely you’ll end up in a less glamorous location – like Boise, Idaho. 

Consider the company – and local – culture

Workplace culture is different around the world. While small talk is completely normal in Britain, the ultra-efficient Germans prefer to avoid chit-chat. The French are strict about finishing work on time – they even have laws against answering work emails from home – while in the USA it’s generally expected that you stay late to get the job done. 

Look at the size of the company. Small, local companies can be quite traditional – in countries like Italy, there’s a bigger focus on hierarchy and respect. While this can be frustrating, it could also make it easier to get a job if you’re bilingual and there are few English people applying. If English is your first and only language, look for jobs with international firms and tech start-ups. In large international firms the culture is more likely to be familiar, while start-ups all over the world have a similar “work hard, play harder” approach.

Before accepting the job, do a more generic culture check-up using Glassdoor. Some of the comments from disgruntled ex employees can be taken with a pinch of salt, but overall it’s a good barometer of what day-to-day company life is like.

Prepare for a new job interview experience

The final stage of finding a job abroad is the interview. If you do get invited for one, spend some time researching common interview questions in that country as well as local etiquette. The process might be very different from what you’re used to – for example in Japan it’s common to ask deeply personal questions,  and humour is an absolute no-no.

Follow our tips to ace a Skype or Hangouts interview.

Follow our tips to ace a Skype or Hangouts interview.

If you’re applying for a role in a far-flung destination like Australia, Thailand or the USA it’s likely your future employer will want to speak to you on Skype or Google Hangouts before flying you out. You should treat this like any other job interview – dress well, prepare some questions and do your research on the company. 

Of course nothing is ever simple when technology’s involved, so take care to:

  • Look at the camera, not the screen – it feels strange but it gives the impression that you’re making eye contact
  • Close other programs on your laptop – nothing is more embarrassing than the tell-tale ‘ping’ of a social media notification
  • Prepare a cheat sheet – keeping some notes just out of view of the camera can help you get back on track if you get flustered
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