– by Beau Peters
Beau Peters is a creative professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he’s learned a slew of tricks of the trade that he enjoys sharing with others who have the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work.
If you ask many people what their goals are, chief among them is usually that they would like to travel more. Sometimes this is a simple case of taking a short trip abroad, but many of us want something a little more lasting. We don’t just want the well-trodden tourist experience; we want to know what it’s like to immerse ourselves in a new culture. One of the best ways to approach this is through employment.
The business world is swiftly becoming more open, with companies around the planet recognizing the need to both move some of their current employees to global offices and recruit candidates from different cultures. For businesses to function in an international marketplace, this diversity of talent is essential. As such, there have been few better times to strike out and seek employment abroad. Not to mention that your international experiences will be an excellent addition to your resume if you decide to return to the U.S.
That said, it’s not always easy to know where to begin. It can be a little overwhelming navigating the international job market, not to mention understanding how to engage with it. Let’s take a look at a few key areas that can help you on your way.
The Job Market
Your first practical step should be to review the opportunities — most popular job sites offer international search options. You can employ the services of a recruiting agency to help guide you through your job search from beginning to end. A strong recruiter can link your organizations looking to fill various positions as well as help you strengthen your resume and interview skills.
As with any job hunt, you’ll be looking to match your current skills to market demand in your target country. However, if you’re not planning to up sticks for a year or so, it can be equally advantageous to discover what is in demand to obtain new qualifications and experience in the interim. It’s important to make certain that any certifications you gain in the U.S. are valid in your intended destination. In the E.U., obtaining a statement of comparability for your academic qualifications is usually recommended.
Another option is to review the U.S. job market for multinational companies that have offices in your desired overseas country. Many provide opportunities for longer-term employees to transfer to their foreign offices. The advantage here is that you can spend time working with the company and building your reputation and the skills you need from within. Some will even assist with relocation costs.
Freelancing is also an option for careers abroad. Office spaces around the planet are shifting to hybrid operations, and in some cases entirely remote. This often means that there is flexibility for you to work for a company wherever you happen to be in the world. However, some countries only grant visas to freelancers in specific, in-demand professions, so be sure to check before jumping in here.
The Application Process
When it comes to your resume, there will of course occasionally be technical preferences. A European Parliament initiative has led to widespread requirements across the continent for candidates to utilize the Europass resume structure. However, there will also be more nuanced requirements for attitude and language here. Let’s face it, it’s generally considered fine to brag a bit about your achievements on your U.S. resume; that’s seen as a positive sign of selling yourself effectively. In the Australian job market, the same behavior sees many Americans losing out on positions due to what is perceived as arrogance. What you’re aiming for Down Under is a longer, more modest approach that seeks to tell the story of your education, career, and experience in 3-5 pages.
Interviews are often your first and best chance to make a positive and personal impression on potential employers. If you’re moving to a country that is not primarily English speaking, be sure to seek their protocol for the interviewing language. You might think it’s safe to assume that because your resume is in English, the interview will be also. Making a query about this is not only polite, but it also shows that you respect their culture.
If you haven’t yet reached your destination country, or you’re interviewing during lockdown, you may be expected to do so online. There are standard best practices for remote interviews in all countries — such as keeping an uncluttered background or an awareness of your body language. However, you should add a few international good practices in there; the default dress tends toward conservative, and don’t attempt humor that could get lost in translation.
Preparing for the Move
While social media has sold us the fantasy that we can simply up sticks and travel the world, the reality can be a little more complex. You’ll find that you will have a far less stressful time if you make some careful preparations before making your move.
These should include:
Depending on your destination, you may need a specific type of visa to match the occupation you’ll be undertaking, or will only grant visas if there’s an economic need for your particular profession. Do things by the book. If you’re transferring within a corporation, seek assistance from your employer, as they will usually help to take care of this for you.
Travel abroad is becoming more accessible, but living in another country still requires some investment. Take some time to build up some savings that will take care of moving fees, accommodation deposits, health insurance costs, and some emergency cash. Also, familiarize yourself with the preferred methods of payment in your host country. While the adoption of credit and debit card use is increasing in Asia, there is still a strong tendency toward cash transactions.
A recent study of Americans who moved to a new city shows that 76% were still satisfied if the culture was different from what they’re used to. That doesn’t mean to say that it’s always easy! Take time to learn about your host’s culture, watch videos about the do’s and don’ts of interactions. Some of these are very nuanced, and take a little time to get used to — so get a head start!
Pursuing an international service job can be a rich, rewarding experience. However, it pays in the long run to take a pragmatic approach. Match the demand for your skills with a country you’d like to reside in. Maintain the preferences of your host country in the applications process, and ensure you are adequately prepared for the administrative, financial, and social challenges ahead.