Finding a better job or changing career paths is one of the most challenging activities a person can undertake. Between meticulously grooming your resume and memorizing all of your top notch interview answers, there is a lot that needs to be done to qualify you for that sweet new gig. These tasks are only amplified if you are looking for a career change on a global scale, and the foolproof plan you made for yourself could be completely irrelevant for an international job search.
Just having a LinkedIn profile is not enough anymore for international job offers; even if you have the help of a job placement agency, it does not mean that your job search should be in any way hands-off. Finding jobs abroad goes many steps further. Going about your search without doing the proper research might mean that you’re committing some serious deal-breakers without realizing it – sabotaging yourself can be totally avoided through a bit of awareness.
If you’re thinking: “I want to work abroad” —we’re glad you’re here. Regardless of if you’ve spent months applying for jobs or you’re just getting started, the following are all things you need to know whether you’re looking to teach English in China or pursue graphic design in Australia. Here's our best advice to better your chances and *finally* find international jobs!
How to improve your international job search
1. Search on international job search sites.
Lucky for you, GoAbroad.com has tons of international jobs listed, so we recommend starting by clicking around our site to help you find a job abroad online. The key to using international job hubs is to really flesh out your profile for each individual job. It’s not enough to have a selfie profile picture and a copy and pasted version of your resume. Take the time to really brand your profile. It’s pretty obvious when a job candidate is being lazy with their application materials and lacks personal branding, and if you are half-assing your job search, then a hiring manager is sure to think that you’ll half-ass your job, too.
2. Make an online presence—and actually maintain it.
Nowadays, social media is used for more than just uploading your most recent #TBT. Having a strong online brand and presence can get you noticed by hiring managers and make a name for yourself in the public eye. We’ve all got social media these days, but making sure that it’s that perfect balance between work and play, personal and professional is your best chance at standing out in your job search. Just make sure that everything you’re posting is squeaky clean. There is no way to ruin your chances of getting a job faster than having something blatantly inappropriate on one of your pages.
If you really want to connect with a company and stand out from the hundreds of other resumes they are receiving (and get your foot in the door through entry level international jobs), start interacting with the company’s social media accounts. Comment back on Twitter, tag them in your travel photos on Instagram, use their custom hashtag, etc. After all, the way to a hiring manager’s heart is through their notification section. This activity is even more beneficial if your online brand is tied to your name, so if your Twitter handle is @beachbabe99, we suggest changing stat.
In addition, you should be going beyond just social media if you have a craft that you want to sell to a company. Have photography skills? Make an online portfolio or blog. Good with web design? Build a website for yourself showcasing your skills. People like to hire those with demonstrated skills, so get creative! You know they’re going to google you, they know they’re going to google you, so why not tip those search results pages in your favor with a personal website and/or blog?
3. Join online forums and communities (and participate in them!).
There are a lot of other people out there looking for international jobs, and connecting with some of them can only help you during your search. Joining online communities based around a certain region or market can make you more aware of job listings, companies to research, and industry professionals to network with. Many of these forums or groups are on sites you’re probably already using such as Facebook and LinkedIn, so stop wasting time stalking your ex’s page and start scrolling through community pages instead.
Joining these online groups is only half the battle. Actively participating in them, however, can help you really make a name for yourself. If you are vocal about where you live and what type of job you’re looking for, others in the community will think of you when they see something relevant. Plus, it never hurts to grow your network, and the people you meet through these online platforms can turn into all kinds of worldwide jobs opportunities in the future.
4. Revamp your resume and cover letter.
You may have perfected the art of crafting that beautiful one page summary of yourself and be super stoked to get it in anybody’s hands that will read it, but before you start shooting off your idea of a perfect resume, make sure that it upholds the standards of the country you are applying to. Resumes in Germany look a lot different than resumes in the U.S., and while one thing might be totally cool in one country, it doesn’t mean it will fly in another. Even for entry level international jobs, you will need to tailor your resume.
In many countries, it is seen as essential to include a photo of yourself on the top of your resume, versus in the U.S. this would probably seem odd to recruiters. Spend some time ensuring that your application materials are the right ones to submit so you don’t waste your time sending out resumes and cover letters that end up in the hiring manager’s recycling bin. Make sure that your resume and cover letter also reflect your personal branding and include links to your LinkedIn profile, personal website, or online portfolio. These documents are supposed to tie your application together, so don’t leave anything up to guesswork on the recruiter’s end.
5. Be aware of visa requirements.
There is nothing worse than spending days applying for jobs and getting no response, only to find out that it is because you are not legally qualified to work in the country you are applying to. Actually, the only thing worse than that is going on interviews and getting an offer, only to find out that you can’t accept it because you are not legally qualified to work in that country. Serious bummer, right? This can be totally avoided by doing one of a few things:
- Check the work visa requirements online before potentially wasting your time applying to jobs in a specific country
- Read job listings carefully to see if they specify that you must have a prior work visa to be considered
- If they don’t specify on the listing, ask during the interview if the company sponsors foreigners in order to obtain a work visa
The same thing applies to anything else you might need to make yourself eligible to accept a job in a different country. Is your passport going to expire in 6 months? Renew it before you get an offer so you don’t have to push your start date back two months while you wait for it to be returned. Do you need certain vaccinations that are difficult to find? Start making doctor’s appointments as soon as possible. You can always cancel these if you don’t get the job, but you can’t go back in time to schedule one after you find out the doctor is booked for the next three months.
6. Utilize professional resources. Seriously!
If you’ve exhausted all of your options and your phone still isn’t buzzing with offers, it might be time to get an industry professional involved. Luckily, there are now tons of online resources focused specifically on finding a job abroad, and many of these offer resume reviews, professional development tips, and networking assistance.
There is also the option to enroll in an actual career program or class. Some people shy away from options like these because of the associated price tag, but if you do your research and pick the right one for your needs and goals, you can quickly earn that return on your investment by landing your dream job. Some companies (including us!) offer discounts for these types of programs, so follow relevant accounts on social media to see when they are giving away discount codes.
7. Network, network, network!
When all else fails, there is a lot to be said about the power of building relationships. Attend any and all tradeshows, conferences, and career fairs that you can get into, as you never know what kind of industry tycoons will be there just waiting to give you a job. For example, if you’re aiming to get involved in international education, NAFSA is going to be your savior. If you’re a travel blogger trying to become a fulltime copywriter, TBEX is where you’ll want to head. When it comes to networking events and job fairs, there are unlimited options.
Physically attending these events and socializing with a few people is probably not going to get you too far, but there is a lot you can do to really make yourself stand out. For starters, practice your personal elevator pitch with your mom, roommate, significant other, and dog so that when the time comes, you don’t get choked up just trying to explain who you are and what you want. Also, always have business cards on hand so the CEO you’ve been impressing for the last hour knows how to reach you. While you’re at it, if you’re exchanging business cards with anyone, don’t be afraid to reach out to them first! Sending a follow-up email is a great way to get back in the forefront of the person’s mind and another opportunity to impress the person with your dedication.
There are so many opportunities around the world to really boost your career and potentially jump-start a whole new passion, so don’t limit your job search to just your home country out of fear or confusion.
Next steps to working abroad
Now that you have the inside scoop and know where many would-be expats fail in their job hunt, it's time to choose who you want to work abroad through! Choosing a work abroad program isn't as hard as it sounds, especially if you follow these steps:
Decide where to go. Figuring out where YOU should work abroad is paramount. Have a short list of locations that sound ideal for your goals. Don't let your experience (or lack thereof!) hold you back—choose a place that's right for you.
Pick your job. Do some reflection on what skills and knowledge you bring to the table, and which type of company or organization—and role within—would best benefit from your time and energy.
Choose from the best work abroad programs in the world. Pay attention to past participants’ reviews, program/university reputation, location, and how the project's needs match your skills. Some programs may even share contact info for ambassadors or past participants if you want the REAL dirt. Here are more considerations to make as you figure out how to choose the right job program for you. Pro tip: You can use MyGoAbroad to compare programs side-by-side.
Plan your finances. Sort out funding before you go to afford daily essentials and splurge on travel (in addition to program costs and airfare). Be sure to raise a little extra money to donate to the organization that you'll be working with. Learning how to save for jobs abroad is essential prior to your travels!
Get prepared! Preparing to work and move abroad is as fun as it sounds. With the days til departure number dwindling and your excitement boiling, it can be easy to overlook the details. Lean on us to help guide you through your pre-departure process—that's what we're here for.
Commence your international job search!
Learning how to find international jobs is as-easy as bookmarking this page. In the current age of free information and online resources, there is no excuse to not fulfill your dreams of working abroad and maximizing your career. It sounds cliche, but the key to landing that awesome job halfway across the world is to think outside the box, make Google your best friend, and most importantly, don’t give up!