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Overseas Employment – How to Get a Job Abroad

by Contributor

Finding work overseas: Yes, it’s possible, yes, there are challenges, and yes, it may be worth it.

The economic recession has been difficult and millions of Americans of all ages are facing the prospect of long term unemployment or underemployment (i.e. having a job that barely pays the bills and does nothing to enhance your career). Some people may be wondering about opportunities in other countries in order to continue their career progression, or simply find a job that pays well.

Overseas employment - how to find a job abroadUnfortunately, this most recent economic crisis has been almost global. Most recessions, in fact almost all of them except this one and the one that caused the Great Depression, are local or regional in nature. For example, when Argentina and Uruguay defaulted on their debt in 2002, the United States, Europe, and Asia were virtually unaffected. When the United States’ markets crashed in late 2008, half entire world shut down.

Notice I said “almost.” I recently read in the news about some countries which have avoided crippling recessions and have posted considerable economic growth. Some of the countries that avoided major recessions include Australia, Canada and New Zealand. China, the world’s newest juggernaut, continues to grow at unprecedented rates.

Even with these challenges, there are ways to find international employment.

How to Get a Job Overseas

Is reading the international business section of a newspaper or business website information enough to find a job? I think it’s a beginning, and it is a start towards the research you will have to do in order to accomplish finding working abroad. You cannot simply pick a country, fly over, and then conduct interviews. You need to know whether the country you wish to work in is looking for expat labor, and whether there are any jobs available in your field.

Here are some basic tips I can give for anyone planning on looking for work overseas.

1. Find out which countries have a need for your expertise. Don’t pick a country and hope you will get hired. You need to do research to determine if there is demand for people with your specialty. A petroleum engineer is unlikely to find work in France but may end up working for a French company in the UAE or Saudi Arabia.

2. Do research on the country you’re moving to. Is it politically stable? Is it economically stable? If it’s not economically stable and in the developing world, you will probably have to keep your money back home. Avoid investing locally, and avoid purchasing a property if the country has a recent history of instability. You don’t want to abandon your nest egg while fleeing.

3. Can you qualify for a work visa? Not only do you need to find the right country with the right job, you need to find out if you can qualify for a visa, otherwise you may be ineligible to work there. If you have a history of illness, are over a certain age, or have a criminal background, you may not be able to qualify for a work visa and the company that hired you may find it impossible to bring you over. However, the biggest companies can usually find a way to get anyone they want over if the person is qualified for a senior position.

4. Keep a home address. Don’t completely cut ties with your home. You’ll need a home address in order to maintain a bank account and you will need a home address to maintain heal insurance, which you should try to do if possible. Private health care may not be guaranteed when working abroad, particularly in the developing world. Your coverage may also be dropped if you are ill for a long period of time and you’ll need to have remained eligible on your guaranteed health coverage back home. This may not be an issue if you work in a country with guaranteed health care for all legal residents, but it’s better safe than sorry.

5. Maintain contact with family and friends. Don’t sever the links that have been a part of your life until recently. When moving abroad you will be confronted with new sights, sounds and cultures which can be overwhelming at times. Keeping in contact with the people you grew up with help you maintain your bearing and your sanity!

Working overseas can be the adventure of a lifetime and it can be a clever way to avoid the current economic recession. But it must be done with a bit of forethought and it’s certainly not something to jump into without research.

About the author: Rick Todd writes at Expat Investing where he discusses such topics as to whether retiring abroad is right for you and if you can afford to live abroad on social security alone.

Photo credit: swimparallel


Published or updated October 22, 2012.
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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Greg McFarlane

Thank you for suggesting that expats stay in contact with their families after heading overseas, because otherwise the expats might forget to. That was very helpful.

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2 Craig

I would love to do it, a lot of people work at hostels just so they can be overseas and then do a lot of traveling.

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3 Ryan

That’s not a bad way to travel on the cheap. If you are young enough you can also get a Visa exemption, temporary work pass, or work study visa which makes it easier. Of course, it all depends on the country you want to visit. But it’s worth looking into if you are serious about working and living overseas.

I lived in the UK for a few years – I loved living overseas and recommend it to anyone who is interested in having a unique experience! :)

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