Once you catch the travel bug, it can be hard to squash. Although honestly – who would want to? After getting a taste of the freedom, excitement, and personal growth that being abroad can give you, you’ll always be trying to find a way back to the other side of the world. That’s why getting a job abroad can be such an enticing option for would-be world travelers!
However, going to work overseas for a year+ isn’t for the faint of heart, especially if you’re a recent grad without a lot of experience in the working world. The application process is a long and grueling, and sometimes discouraging, process. But— you know you’re right for the job and we know you’re right for the job, and with all the skills travel can teach you, you’ll be a seasoned pro in no time!
5 tips to work overseas with no experience
1. Redefine “Experience.”
To a graduate or soon-to-be-grad, the ‘real world’ (whatever THAT means) can seem intimidating, especially when applying for a Big-Kid-Job. You’ll find yourself constantly wondering: How do I get job experience without already having some? Good news! “Experience” is a loose term. You don’t have to have a star-studded resume of your past three jobs on Wall Street as a twenty-two year-old to claim that you have “experience.”
You can also be qualified for a job through your experience volunteering (this shows your passion for specific causes and bettering the world), participating in campus organizations (things like student government equip you with time, event, and people-management skills), and – of course – your summer/semester studying abroad (intercultural understanding! A global perspective! Language fluency!). It’s a safe bet that a lot of your activities throughout your years at college – both inside and outside the classroom – have prepared you for the working world. The important thing is how you spin it and present it to potential employers!
When applying for jobs abroad, be sure to really highlight how your activities in college apply to the role and responsibilities of the job you’re applying for.
2. Think Outside the Box.
Never, ever, ever, EVER lie on your resume. NEVER. Not only is it unprofessional and dishonest, you will also probably get caught in the lie. However, snagging job opportunities abroad without experience is all about pushing the boundaries a little when selling yourself as a qualified candidate. Maybe your passion for cooking shows the ability to think on your feet! Or perhaps your crafting club demonstrates a keen eye for detail and a sense of creativity. Volunteering at the animal shelter is definitely an example of how you’re not afraid to dig in and get your hands dirty (literally) when it comes to hard work.
You’d be surprised by how many skills you’ve gained from your daily life and activities – even the fun ones! – that can then be used in your search for work abroad without experience! As an international applicant you’ll already stand out in the application pool, but showing off a little pizzazz and giving your employers a better sense of who you are as a person and an employee will really distinguish you from the rest.
3. Job Requirements & Responsibilities are Guidelines, Not Rules.
Ok, so truthfully, the requirements in the job description still matter. Don’t be too ambitious and apply for mid-senior level positions in Milan’s top PR firm as a recent graduate who has only ever worked at their local ice cream stand. You’ll be a little disappointed in the results. But, it’s important to not be discouraged from a job application’s list of so-called “requirements.”
In your quest to learn how to get a job overseas with no experience, you’ve probably noticed that most entry-level positions require “three to five years of experience.” This, of course, is simply unreasonable if it truly is an entry-level position. When employers list this as a requirement on a job-application, what they’re really saying is, “We’re listing all of our fantasy requirements of our absolute DREAM candidate.” Employers know that most of their applicants won’t check off every requirement that they’ve listed on the job application, which means that as long as you’re smart about what you’re applying for and the skills that you have to match, you still have a chance at snagging job opportunities without experience (or, with limited experience, at least).
One big requirement that you should pay attention to: visa and work permits. If you’re applying for jobs abroad in a specific country that requires people working there to have a work visa (which most countries do), make sure that you qualify for that visa. Depending on the country and the type of work you’re looking to do, you may be required to acquire the visa before you even apply for jobs abroad. However, for the right candidate, some companies can sponsor your visa and guarantee you a spot on the team. Just remember: no one likes being deported on their first week on the job, so be sure to do your homework when it comes to official paperwork!
4. You’ll Need Some Cultural Context.
The real secret to how to get a job overseas with no experience is: cultural context. If you’re going to live in another country, you should probably get to know it a little better before you go. Not only will this help you fully immerse yourself when you arrive, but it will also give you an edge when applying and interviewing for job opportunities abroad without experience. British employers, for example, accept “CV’s” rather than resumes, and the structures of the documents vary slightly. Your Japanese employer might have a different way of greeting you and conducting business meetings than you might be used to.
Brushing up on the cultural norms in the business setting of a specific country is crucial for you to nail that interview. Check out some documentaries or movies, read up on pioneers of the field you’ll be working in, and feel free to stalk heavily on social media (just don’t tell anyone).
5. Network (Not Just Teamwork) Makes the Dream Work.
It was bound to come up. You want to know how to get a job overseas without experience? Well sometimes, it really is about who, not what, you know. A big part of how to get a job overseas with no experience is making a human connection with your potential employer; this means using that dreaded phrase: networking. Reach out to your contacts through your university, family friends, that one entrepreneur you met at a late-night karaoke bar in Barcelona. Everyone and anyone could be a potential connection to your future dream job, so it’s important to put yourself out there, ask for help, and charm the pants off anyone you meet – sometimes, it’s the best way to get what you want!
An alternative option: Work abroad programs
If the the prospect of finding a job overseas all on your own seems a little daunting, good news! There are also organized work exchanges and programs that you can use to help narrow down your search. These programs will offer you a bit more structure to the sometimes overwhelming task of finding, applying, and getting a job abroad. You can learn how to get a job overseas with no experience through any of these programs.
Organizations like International TEFL Academy can assist you with finding teaching placements in Thailand, and around the world, and other organizations, like Cultural Vistas will provide you with opportunities to work abroad in fields such as information systems or architecture. You can also snag work abroad without experience through programs like WWOOF – an international work exchange network in which you can work on organic farms! If you have a passion or an interest, there is a job or a work program out there waiting for you.
When choosing a work abroad program, be sure to read reviews, reach out to alumni to hear about their personal experiences, and compare your favorite programs side-by-side with MyGoAbroad and keep a running list of the ones you’re interested in.
Now that you know how to get a job overseas with no experience, you better get applying! The bottom line is, no matter how you go about landing job opportunities abroad, remember that perseverance is everything! Figuring out how to get a job overseas with no experience is not easy task – if it were, everyone would be doing it – but it’s also not impossible.
Put in the time and effort, do your research, and apply, apply, apply! You’ll be strolling into your dream job office in a foreign country in no time.