Job abroad. How to start?

We live in a truly globalized world, where international work experience is a necessary step towards career growth for every ambitious and growth-oriented professional.

The motivation behind it can be different: industry hub atmosphere experience to accelerate your career, stepping out of your comfort zone to broaden horizons and take up a new life challenge, or developing cross-cultural competencies, such as leadership flexibility or working in a multicultural environment.

In this post, I would like to share some ideas and sources that I discovered while looking for a job/internship abroad.

To make this insight more objective, I have asked 20 other young professionals who have also moved to a foreign country to work, about the main lesson they learned while searching for a job abroad.

Even if you know exactly what type of position you are looking for, job hunting is still not an easy process that certainly requires a strategic approach. Looking for a job abroad is even more complicated and a well-thought-out strategy is definitely needed.

Below you can find an overview of the most important aspects to be considered and further I will elaborate on each point.

1. Objective

First of all, you should define your personal objective. What are you trying to achieve by working abroad? The overall strategy should be based on your answer to this question.

In my opinion, there are two primary types of motivation:

  • CV enhancer

International work experience just for the sake of it: you want to work abroad for a certain period of time, mostly short-term, to improve your overall employability and attractiveness as a potential candidate. You do not want to relocate for a long period of time and you definitely want to come back to your native country after this experience.

  • Immigration

You seriously consider relocating to a foreign country for a long/uncertain period of time and you would like to build your career there growing both personally and professionally.

2. Destination

Secondly, focus on the choice of location. Where do you exactly want to go and why? You can tackle this problem analytically using numerous information sources available online.

For example, check out this amazing expat explorer platform developed by HSBC, where you can compare life for expats in different countries across the globe, study certain country guides, access hints & tips from other expats and even take a test to find your perfect country — match.

Another interesting source that demonstrates the overall state of the job market in different countries — Manpower employment outlooksurvey developed by the Manpower Group. This quarterly survey measures hiring confidence among approximately 66000 employers in 42 countries.

If you want to compare tax and legal aspects among different countries, EY publishes annual global personal tax guide summarizing personal tax systems and immigration rules in 162 jurisdictions.

3. Barriers

Now, when you understand which part of the world you would like to go, it is time to think about barriers. You need to consider all major difficulties that might arise in advance and try to take actions to eliminate the risk.

With a help of people participating in my small survey, I managed to identify the most common barriers to finding a job abroad.

  • Languages

Language is the most frequently mentioned barrier by young professionals. Looking for a job outside their home country makes people realize how important it is not only to have a perfect knowledge of English, but also to be fluent in local languages and speak several languages in general.

This barrier can be eliminated by allocating time and energy for learning the required language before applying for a position to increase your chances to get hired.

However, if you are pressed for time and an express language course is not an option, you can still try your luck with looking for a job that does not require the knowledge of local language . It can be a position in an international company/institution that does not involve direct communication with customers or a position in business development/customer support function abroad focusing on your home market.


  • Visa/Work permit

Another important issue for non-EU citizens relates to visa and legal permission to work in a foreign country. While this topic probably deserves a separate post, the main advice is to focus only on the companies that are legally allowed to issue work permits. Normally this information should be available online. For example, here you can find the list of the UK companies who have rights to sponsor a working visa.

Keep in mind that large international companies have more authority, expertise and financial resources to hire an expat rather than small/medium-size business.

The more you apply, the more likely you will get a positive answer to your long-expected “do you sponsor a visa?” question. Therefore, think about expanding your desired industry segment and trying your chances also in the surrounding areas


  • Unrecognized experience

Sometimes your previous experience might not be recognized in the country of your destination.

For example, recruiters might simply not know that the BSc program you completed is the third prestigious financial program in Russia and they prefer other candidates from local universities to you even though their profiles are less attractive. Another example is if you practice a local law in your home country and when you decide to move abroad, you realize that your current experience and knowledge might not be applicable at all.

In this case, some actions to prove your employability and make your profile more competitive should be taken. Consider taking a summer course/studying a full program/ doing an MBA abroad or passing industry certification exams (CFA/ACCA) before applying for jobs to highlight your relevant skills/experience that is currently not fully recognized.


  • Cultural differences in recruitment

A behavior of recruiters can also differ from country to country. For example, in Russia recruiters get back to candidates most of the time, even if the answer is negative while in Europe it is more common not to answer to an application at all rather than saying no.

Due to this cultural difference, the conversion rate of applying to jobs in Europe is significantly lower, which can be really disappointing in the beginning. To avoid unnecessary concerns and regrets, it could be a good idea to ask locals about specifics of the application process and recruitment behavior in a certain country before sending your applications there.

For more information about methods (Erasmus internship, international student organizations, organized internships, career in institutions and multinational corporations) & facilitators (networking, keeping track and quality), check out the original post.

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