- Top tips to live and work abroad
- If you're European...
- Engineering jobs in Europe for non-Europeans
- Moving abroad in finance/accounting
- Moving abroad as a corporate executive
- How to work as a web developer abroad (Malaysia)
- Moving to Australia with a job on the skill occupation list
- Moving abroad with an international development job
- Moving abroad as a doctor
- How to teach abroad for non-native English speakers & native English speakers
Most of the lists that I've found about working abroad focus on working abroad as digital nomads and/or teaching abroad. This list is really intended for people who are committed to living abroad and becoming an expat long-term as most of these jobs require a significant time investment to get the degree and/or work experience required to be competitive. Think of it this way: if you're competitive in your own country, you might be competitive in a country you'd rather live in.
Tips to live and work abroad
- Be good at your job. It seems so simple, but most of getting hired by a foreign company is about being an expert in your given area and being recognized for it. It might take some time to get into a good niche, but once you do, the job opportunities increase.
- Learn languages. Although many countries use English for international business, not all do. Your ability to work abroad increases exponentially once you know more than one language. Picking the right language is the hardest part, however you need to think strategically about which languages are best for jobs in your area and where you want to move. You need to get to a conversational level for most employers to consider you (think B1-B2 level). Duolingo is a great start.
- Learn new skills. Keeping your skillset fresh via learning new coding languages, taking workshops, or even refreshing your coursework from university can boost your resume, so when a recruiter searches for someone with that skill, you show up!
- Look actively for jobs (even if you're happy) and don’t be afraid to take the risk. The worst that happens is that you get rejected for not having a work permit. Best case scenario? They sponsor you to move abroad!
- If you qualify for a second nationality, get it.
- Keep in mind that moving abroad won't be easy, but don't give up! A lot of companies face significant visa hurdles to hiring foreigners, so it can be difficult to get sponsored as a foreigner, but it is possible.
- Don't obsess about the job posting requirements. Most job postings are a wish list, however you need to be qualified for 80% of the position requirements to be considered a viable candidate against local candidates.
- Fill in your Linkedin Profile properly and use it actively. 93% of recruiters look on LinkedIn for candidates and a linkedin profile with a good description describing your job experience/personality is a great way to get noticed by recruiters.
- Don't move around companies too much as a professional. Taking job risks by changing jobs frequently have worked out for a couple friends, but many job require a specific number of years of experience (3/5/10/20 years are common benchmarks).
- Get in touch with recruiters. I’ve been offered jobs in the UK, the Netherlands, Afghanistan (really), South Korea by recruiters! (Becoming an expat can be that easy!)
- Negotiate your moving costs. Moving abroad is not cheap. Negotiate the first month (with the move) as part of your salary.
- Think of living abroad as a long-term investment in you and your happiness. Unlike temporary visas (like working holiday visas), working in a country long-term often means that you can obtain citizenship and/or more rights as a permanent resident to return. This varies by country as certain countries (including Dubai) limit your ability to obtain citizenship, but if you want to travel more, living abroad is a great way to jumpstart it by having a better base for exploring the world.
If you're European...
How to work as an Engineer in Europe as a non-European (Jobs in Europe)
Moving abroad in finance/accounting and/or
Advancing within your company abroad
It's important to be clear with your managers that you're interested in moving abroad as many people are not interested/able to take a transfer internationally. Keep in mind that the first location offered to you might not be ideal, but showing that you're interested in advancing your career abroad is a great way to be considered for other international transfers. Some of this might require some short-term jobs that require a lot of travel abroad, however it can be a good way to show your commitment to relocating.
Moving abroad as a corporate executive/software engineer
How to work as a web developer abroad (in Malaysia)
Taking advantage of the free 30-day tourist visa, I came to Malaysia in 2012 with nothing but my IT degree. Although I had a few part-time jobs during my college years in Australia and the Netherlands, I had no professional working experience. I was not sure if any company would hire a foreigner like me and is willing to apply a sponsored working visa. After applying for various IT jobs, I managed to secure an interview during my second week of stay in KL and I was immediately hired. Luckily, I received the working visa before my tourist visa expired.
Here are the things I learnt about applying a job in Malaysia:
- The trick is: MSC status!
- Widen your search
- Discrimination is real
- Visa application is the employer’s responsibility
My advice about getting a job in another country: don’t be too picky about the job and salary. Once you land yourself a job, it would be much easier for you to find a more suitable one in another company. Lastly, try to work in a multinational company that has branches in other countries. You may be able to move to a country you prefer through your company’s help.
How to Move to Australia: Moving to Australia with a job on the skill occupation list
My husband was happy to move to Australia with me as he'd already lived and worked away from home. We were fortunate that his occupation (Java developer) was on the Skilled Occupations List and we wouldn't be limited to living in any specific state. We learnt through his co-workers, who were also were looking at migrating, about a company called Dialog which sponsors Java developers in South Africa to migrate to Australia on 457 visas. Thankfully and finally Dialog sponsored Kobus and I came over as a de facto partner. I also landed a great Graphic Design/Marketing role within two weeks of moving here. It was a long process with its fair share of ups and downs, but it's been absolutely worth it. Our advice is: Everything you need to know and do is on the www.australia.gov.au website - don't waste your money on a migration agent and definitely don't give up!
Moving abroad with an international development job
My background is in Industrial Design, and I was hired to help the school open a store to sell their products. I also have a Master’s Degree in Design with a focus on international development, where I carried out research on devices for people with disabilities in Uganda. I got the job because of my unique mix of international experience and my background in product design. I have applied to my last four international positions through Canadian organizations (which are often sponsored by the Canadian Government). The best thing about this is that they provide assistance with all visa documentation and cover expenses like flights and medical insurance.
One thing I noticed about working in Bolivia is the importance of interpersonal relationships. In my office, it’s rude to not say good morning to each person individually, and people will often ask about how your family is doing or send their regards to them (even if you see the person all the time). If I had one piece of advice to share with others who want to move from working in a “developed country” to working in a “developing country”, I would say be flexible! Other cultures likely have a different idea of time, efficiency, commitments, and expectations than you are used to, so you simply have to “go with the flow”!
Moving abroad as a medical student (Russia)
How to teach abroad for non-native English speakers & native English speakers
How to teach abroad for non-native English speakers
In my case, an unrelated Bachelor's degree was enough, combined with a language certificate and some previous experience as a teacher. After a lot of emails and about five interviews, I was hired as a French teacher at a private school north of Bogotá. While teaching is a hard job, it is rewarding.
If you too would like to become a teacher in Colombia, I recommend to first figure out where you want to live (if it is a big city, live somewhat close to where you work) and then send emails to all the schools in your vicinity. There are websites for parents that list all the schools in the country and you can use these instead of only applying for jobs posted on job boards. This has worked for me; I was contacted by a school that needed someone urgently and had no time to post an ad online! I had an interview on Saturday and started working Monday morning.
If you speak (and can teach) a language other than English, it is an asset you should definitely use. Compared to many others who offer English, perhaps you will be able to find work easier because of your specialization – maybe even at a bilingual school like the one I worked at. If this inspired you, you can find more information on how to find a teaching job in Colombia in my detailed article.