How to Find and Apply for International Jobs
Does your heart yearn abroad? Are you looking to develop your career further by going after an international job? The world is much more interconnected today and organizations of all sizes are becoming increasingly international. It’s not odd anymore to find yourself in a different country, doing the job you love.
In this guide, we will provide you advice on how to find international jobs and to apply for them. We’ll provide tips and best practices to guarantee your job search goes as smoothly as possible.
STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO FINDING INTERNATIONAL JOBS
Let’s start by examining the steps you should take in order to find international jobs.
Step 1: Identify your goal
First, you should start by identifying your goal. You need to have some sort of understanding of what you want to do and where you would like to go. This can narrow down your search and give it more direction.
The two questions, where do you want to go and what do you want to do, can be partially answered by looking at the following points:
- Where do I want to go? Determine the answer by examining your language skills. While a high number of international jobs only require English language proficiency these days, you should use your possible language skills as an advantage.
consider any knowledge you already have of a particular country. Perhaps you spent a gap year in Spain or you studied under an exchange program in France. Consider both where you’d want to move, as well as any experience or skills you might have, which can be useful for a specific country.
- What do I want to do? You should then examine the kind of opportunities the country of your choice offers in terms of industries. For example, certain countries might be at the forefront of green technology, which is where your career goals lie, and this means it might be an attractive choice for you.
Ideally, you want to find a country you are passionate about, but which also supports your career goals. Ensure you have a career development plan in place and use it as a guide for finding the right country.
Finally, when you are determining the country you want to start looking at, don’t overlook the personal side of moving abroad. It’s important to answer questions, such as:
- How far are you from home? If you are leaving behind a lot of close friends and family, you might suddenly find the huge distance a problem.
- How difficult is it to relocate your life there? It’s a good idea to have some sense of the relocation process at this early point. We’ll provide detailed tips later, but do light research into visa requirements, work permits and the overall cost of living.
- Do you have a good understanding of the culture and the lifestyle? The wonderful thing about the world is its diverse culture. But experiencing these differences is completely distinct when you move from one culture to another; it’s not a holiday. If the cultures are widely different, then it’s important to understand the main differences and carefully consider how they make you feel.
Step 2: Research your desired job and country
Once you’ve identified your career objectives and you’ve decided on the location you’d like to move to, it’s time to start further research. You want to be on top of everything to ensure a smooth transition and an easier search process.
Create a spreadsheet to keep up with the information you are bound to gather in the following weeks and months. It’s a good idea to have two separate files: one for work-related information and the other for country-specific details.
In the work-related file, you should include details of any job titles and positions you find during the search. Add only the ones that are of interest and collect information such as:
- The title
- The skills required for the role
- The qualifications needed in the role
This provides you a better understanding of the available positions, as well as the kind of general skillset the country’s companies seem to be searching for.
You should also start collecting information on potential employers. For companies, you should add information on:
- The company name
- The location of the company (include the main location and few others, for instance)
- Contact details of the HR department
- The hiring process (you can usually find information on whether the jobs are announced on the company’s website or if they use recruitment agencies)
- Any possible contacts you might know of (check your network to find out if you happen to know people, who either work in the organization or have worked there in the past)
Your second focus file should include information about the country. If you have already set your eyes on a big city, you can also include city-specific information on your file. The main points to cover are:
- Work eligibility requirements
- Where to apply for these and do you need to have a guaranteed job before applying?
- Residency requirements
- Do you need a visa? Cover the visa issues also with possible work interviews in mind.
- If you have a family, can you get visas to them easily?
- What is the average cost of living in your chosen country/city?
- Keep this in mind when looking at salaries.
- Do you have enough savings to get started?
You can naturally include any other interesting points to all of the above files. The more information you gather, the easier the process will be.
Step 3: Determine the job-search tools
When it comes to starting your actual job search, the tools available are multiple. You have two main routes to use: online job search and offline job search. You can freely decide which method to emphasize. But it’s beneficial to use a combination of routes, as this provides you with a wider search.
The online job search tools you need to keep in mind are:
- Job sites
- Company websites and social media profiles.
- Cold contacting the above companies by emailing them about job openings.
- Networking online through social media and LinkedIn.
The offline job search tools you should consider include:
- Cold contact, such as calling the HR departments directly.
- Attending international job fairs.
- Networking with friends and acquaintances.
- Checking for job ads on foreign newspapers and trade journals.
- Contacting international recruitment agencies.
Step 4: Polish your skills
Since you’ve gathered information on the possible job postings, you should have a better idea of how your current skills and qualifications match with these roles. Compare the position’s requirements with your own CV to see what are some of the things you could still polish.
During the comparison, mark down any skills you think might prove to be weak during the job search and interviews. You can then start considering the different ways you can develop these skills further.
Being aware of your skillset in terms of jobs you’d like to apply for can help you be more successful. It’s much better to spend a few months developing skills, then to start applying for jobs only to be rejected.
At this point, it’s auspicious to focus on your language skills. Even if you don’t require the local language in the workplace, knowing at least the basics can be a huge boost in job search. It helps you adapt to the local culture better and employers might find it comforting to know you aren’t totally at lost in the new country.
PRACTICAL TIPS TO SEARCHING FOR INTERNATIONAL JOBS
The above outlined the steps you should take and we’ll now provide you some concrete tips to make the search process easier.
#1: Networking is more effective than online applications
Networking is more effective in finding roles and being hired than relying solely on online applications. It’s therefore crucial to up your networking efforts when searching for international jobs. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t look for jobs online or to avoid applying for them through the ‘traditional methods’. But your best bet for landing your dream job is through networking.
You should start your efforts by using your existing contacts as the starting point. Scout your LinkedIn connections to find out which contacts are connected to the industries you are aiming for. You also want to find whether you know people related to companies that came up at your initial search. Finally, you should identify anyone with connections to your desired country or job position.
Check your university alumni as well and contact your university’s career and international departments. These are powerful routes to meeting up with the right contacts and the career centre can often provide concrete tips. Alumni’s are usually oozing with contacts. For example, the London Business School has each of its students connected to over 28,000 globally dispersed alumni.
Finally, you should start showing up to international career fairs or industry-specific tradeshows. Find out about the fairs beforehand to identify the people you are interested to talk to and get your foot through the recruitment door.
#2: Don’t forget to check with domestic companies
The global economy has transformed a number of companies into international rather than purely local businesses. Companies often have some sort of international connection, either by having an office abroad or through third-party suppliers and contracts. Therefore, it’s a good idea to check what domestic companies might offer for you in terms of international opportunities.
If you are already employed, check if your company has an international presence and whether you could transfer abroad within the company. You can also keep in mind any third-party companies your employer operates with.
Furthermore, you should check with any companies you’ve worked in the past. You might benefit from having worked for the organization before and you could even use specific contacts within the company to your advantage.
#3: Consider going abroad to conduct your search
Finally, you shouldn’t rule out conducting your search abroad, in your chosen country. Meeting with prospective employers can be somewhat easier when done face-to-face. As studies have shown, creating a positive impression often requires this physical contact.
If possible, consider moving to your chosen country temporarily to conduct the job search. You can use the opportunity for improving your language skills and adapting to the culture. Keep in mind the option might require you to spend some of your savings, although you could work basic jobs during the job search or consider freelancing online.
But you could also move abroad by interning for a foreign company, which could easily see you find a permanent position afterwards. This is especially suitable alternative for recent graduates. Other option is to volunteer in your chosen location while searching for a paid position.
HOW TO APPLY FOR INTERNATIONAL JOBS
Now that you’ve started with finding international jobs, lets look at the specific things you should do when applying for these roles.
Step 1: Perfect your CV
Your CV or resume will be the most crucial tool you have when applying for international jobs. While it is the key to being hired, you also need to remember the employer or recruiter is unlikely to examine it for longer than 15 to 30 seconds at the start. You therefore, need to focus on perfection and the ability to grab the attention.
You should ensure your CV stands out from the crowd. The secrets for doing that include:
- A good and informative headline:
- “Over 20 years in customer service”
- “Training expert | Business Analyst | Social Collaboration”
- “Technical Editor | Writer open to Creative and Writing and Editing Opportunities”
- Place your personal statement right at the top and include a short section, where you outline your career objectives. This can help the employer understand where you are aiming to get in your career.
- On-point bullet points
- Add sections to clarify what you are trying to say:
- A section for qualifications
- A section for achievements
- A section for skills
- Tailor the CV with the job in mind. You should emphasize skills and achievements highlighted in the job posting and omit the ones that aren’t important for the specific role.
- Add sections to clarify what you are trying to say:
Furthermore, you need to tailor your CV to country-specific standards. Countries tend to have small differences in what they emphasize in a CV and it’s a good idea to be aware of these. For example, in the UK, you should never include a photo to your CV, whilst in France and Germany this is often expected.
Step 2: Be flexible
You need to be flexible when applying for international roles. Not only is it important to be conscious of the time difference, but you also need to consider the limitations for contact. So, don’t just call companies when it’s appropriate in your current location, as it might well mean they are all asleep.
Use all forms of communication from post to telephone, especially if you are applying for a job in a country with restricted resources.
If you have an interested employer looking to contact you, try to accommodate to the employer’s needs. This might mean you need to wake up to talk about business at 3am in the morning, but you should do it if you want the job. If you do have to wake up in an awkward time, wake up at least an hour before the call. This gives you enough time to really wake up your brain to ensure you are at your sharpest during the call.
Finally, don’t rule out the option of flying to the country for job interviews. Certain employers might prefer this and you should gather some savings in advance to cater for this if required.
Step 3: Follow up with companies and recruitment agencies
The biggest mistake to make as a job seeker is to send your CV and sit around waiting for the call. As mentioned above, networking is the best way to find a suitable role overseas and staying in contact with the employer or recruiter will enhance your chances of being noted.
If you emailed your resume to a company, don’t end your email by saying “I look forward to hearing from you”. Instead showcase your willingness to be the active party and say, “I can contact you on Friday morning to see if you have any questions”. On Friday morning, follow-up on your plan and call the recruiter or the company. It shows initiative and real interest towards the specific position.
Furthermore, if you end up in an interview, but you don’t land the job, don’t forget to follow-up afterwards. You should always reply and thank the company for the opportunity. You could even ask if they can provide you with tips for future interviews and to provide feedback on your performance. Most crucially, don’t forget to state that the company can freely contact you if another similar opportunity arises in the future.
Step 4: Prepare well for the interviews
Your international job applications will hopefully land you a number of interview requests. It’s therefore important to focus your energies in preparing for them.
First, research the interview process in your chosen country, as these can also differ between countries. You can often find information online and you could check up with any international recruitment agencies you work with. In addition, your network contacts operating in the country can provide plenty of insights into the interview process.
It’s also important to study the business culture of the country. For example, the amount of physical contact you should make can differ from country to country. Whilst handshake might work in certain situations, there are cultures where you might want to avoid this.
Furthermore, the specific business culture might approach certain things differently. In the US, personal accomplishments are key and should be emphasized in an interview. On the other hand, in Brazil your ability to be part of a team is much more important and the respect of hierarchy is key, not your personal abilities.
Prepare yourself well, even if you are having a phone interview. Dress up smart, although the interviewer might not see you, as professional attire can give you more confidence.
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR APPLYING FOR INTERNATIONAL JOBS
Finally, let’s look at some practical tips you should keep in mind when applying for international jobs.
Be culturally sensitive
You need to be aware of the culture you are ‘applying’ for, not only to avoid mistakes during the application process, but also to ensure you like your new country if you get a job.
Indeed, cultural awareness will aide you in two ways.
First, it helps you to understand the culture in terms of doing business and the daily aspects of living in the country. You’ll be better prepared for the differences and you can avoid countries that don’t suit your personal lifestyle altogether. For instance, a strictly religious society such as Dubai might not be the right fit for all, while others might be more than happy to live there.
Second, by showcasing your cultural awareness and adaptability, you are highlighting your potential to the employer. If they see you are aware of the culture, they might consider you as a less risky hire. After all, they don’t want to you to quit your job few months later, just because you didn’t fit in.
Just like any job hunt, finding an international job won’t be easy. In fact, it can often take a lot more out of you to apply for these international roles. But you need to remain persistent and put your effort into those networking opportunities.
Create yourself a daily strategy to stay on the right track. You should have two schedules. One for research, which means you spend some time every day looking for new opportunities, understanding the hurdles of moving abroad and those cultural differences. If you make new discoveries, always add a follow-up to your calendar.
The second schedule should be for contacting companies and recruitment agencies. Ensure you stay in touch, even if it’s just to ask tips or news about recent openings.
Start with the practicalities as early as possible
Finally, you’ll need to deal with a lot of paperwork and other practicalities if you eventually move to a new country. Start researching this information as soon as you start thinking about finding an international job to guarantee you don’t need to deal with all at once.
Find out about visa and other residency and work permit requirements. Visit the country’s immigration bureau online and contact your local consulate for more information. Start working on this paperwork even if you don’t have a job yet. Having the paperwork ready, and partly filled, can save you from a lot of stress later on.
Don’t focus all of your efforts on these permits and paperwork, but also focus on the every day life things. Start researching the different areas in the city to find out about the housing and its costs. Look at the country’s healthcare options and any possible insurance you need to take. Sorting out these things little by little will ensure you have more time to apply for the jobs.
As a final thought, check out this interesting video on the topic: Working Abroad – Global Jobs & Life with a Purpose: