Do you have a dream of moving, working and living abroad just once in this lifetime? And question if can you find work abroad? Stumped about where to start looking?

The question should be, how much would you really like to make it happen?

The reality is that anything is possible.  Where there is a will, there is always a way. Today I’m going to cover what you need to think about, as well as how and where to start.

The good news is that it is never too late to start living and following your dreams.

Before we start: A Quick Reality Check:

You’d be somewhat naïve if you think that moving to a new country, job and life don’t bring a host of challenges along the way. There can be as many epic failures as there are success stories.

Finding the right job in the right place, like anywhere in life can be a challenge. While, there are countries like Argentina that are harder than others to find work. Companies often prefer to hire locals as it can be a costly and time-consuming process to apply for residency for foreign workers with little assurance that it will all work out.

Yet, that’s not to say it’s not possible, there are obstacles yes, however there are also many loopholes and ways around them.

Working abroad

What is possible, realistic and viable

If you have a particularly remote or exotic location in mind, it may be harder unless you are able to work remotely. Which is ideal and the answer for many digital nomads that make their living that way today.

This post isn’t a guide on becoming a digital nomad.

This is a simple to use, practical guide for those of you who want to really get that sense of living abroad, hook, line and sinker. Learn the language, immerse yourself in another country – to the point it feels like home.

To make it happen you’ll need a bit of energy, effort and will power. On top of healthy dose of reality.

First, you need to decide if you set on moving to a specific country, no matter what the work is available.

For instance, countries such as Australia offer a working holiday visa. Which is available to anyone between 18-30 years old. This visa allows you to travel and work through Australia for a year.  During which you have the right to work anywhere you like, many people choose to work with other backpackers picking fruit or in hostels.

This type of visa is much more of a travel experience than a career move.

Or are you planning to work abroad to improve your employment options.

If you are a designer or creative, a year in London at a top advertising agency would add credibility and valuable work experience to your resume.

So have a think about the type of experience and work you’d be looking for. Once you’ve got a clear direction what you would prefer, you can start preparing to make it a reality.

Preparing before you apply for work

Any planning you do before you go, from studying the language, getting to know the customs, putting money into a savings account – is going to be useful.

All of it helps you to prepare, and get the ball rolling. An application letter sounds stronger if you can mention that you are learning the language, and sound knowledgeable on the culture, reasons for going and expectations while there.

Teaching english overseas

Things to know before you go:

  1. What is the criteria for working in that country and your and visa options?   Best place to find this is on the government website of the country in their immigration and visas section. Or google working visa for [desired country].
  2. What type of job opportunities are there? Thankfully again, the internet is a big help here. There are websites that cater to gap year travelers, expat websites and forums. Government, local city websites can be helpful. Research local job sites, keep in mind they may be in the local language. If you don’t yet speak the local language type job title or English (or your language) in the search to available jobs.
    International job sites like Monsterboard, and experteer, LinkedIn are also worth researching at this preparation stage.
    Note: This is good time to set up a LinkedIn profile if you don’t already have one.
  3. What is the cost of living? This can be tricky as sites can give dated information. There are websites that specialize in the cost of living comparisons like Numbeo.  Other sites like Expatica a site dedicated to expats, and International Living also have useful guides and information.  Again, searching on the internet is an invaluable tool: Cost of living in [your country of choice].
  4. What salary do you need to be able to live?  Now that you have an idea of the cost of living, it’s advisable understand what the local salaries are, and what you would need to earn. Countries through the South of Europe are notorious for high cost of living and low salaries.
    If you are planning to backpack around Australia or work as you go the cost of living will be less of a concern if you get free accommodation at your place of work. Make sure it would be included.
  5. What is live like for foreigners there?  This investigation can be hit and miss, I’ve found on expat blogs the moaners are the one’s that complain the and loudest, everyone else just gets on with it.
    If you get the chance to look at some blogs, forums, meetups or even through friends via, via. It can be good to reach to out someone.
    Drop them a email, most people are happy to help. The more precise questions you ask, the more precise answers you’ll get. It’s always good to get a perspective of someone living there to see what it’s really like.

The answers you get from your research may or may not be what you want to hear. But the reason for doing the research is to 1) manage your expectations. 2) help you to prepare i.e.  if there are no English-speaking jobs other than being an English teacher, you’ll know to get your TEFL before you go.

What can happen if you are unprepared: many moons ago, I tried to move to China. I didn’t speak the language, there were limited work opportunities and the cultural differences were so big that I knew I’d never be able to adjust.  I failed, ran out of money and bailed. It was an epic moving abroad failure. Yet, I also learnt a lot, and now I research potential countries and do a test run before any life changing moves.

We live and learn, but if we prepare it’s much more helpful in the long run. You’ll also find that it helps to inspire and motivate you into making the plunge.

Diving into working abroad

Thinking out of the box & brainstorming options

The research may have given you some ideas, however there are moments when that might not be enough. Perhaps you have a country in mind and need a few more options, so here is a list of ideas to help you brainstorm the possibilities:

  • Getting a study visa, where you can also work part time, or do an internship?
  • Are you between 18-30 can you get a working holiday visa.
  • Skilled worker options: I.e. Australia often has a shortage of Hairdressers and electricians. So, if you have these qualifications, you can apply.
  • Do you work for an international company that can expatriate you? If so, start the conversation with your HR manager and discuss the options and process.
  • International NGO’s and Non profits, you can apply and do the training before you go.
  • Volunteer abroad. There are companies that charge you to participate – but there are those that are free, or pay a small salary to cover living costs.
  • Workaway, Helpx has a range of options if you would like to work 5 hours a day, 5 days a week in exchange for food and accommodation. Some may even pay a small wage – depending on the work. There are a wide range of jobs from babysitting to farming.
  • Woofing (work on organic farms),  similar to workaway but offers work on organic farms.
  • Your own countries embassy in that country might have jobs and internships available.
  • Cruise ships, airlines or jobs in Hotels
  • Local Recruitment agencies – use those that specialize in your industry
  • Work in the Tourism sector is often looking for people that speak different languages – in some areas it may also include live-in accommodation
  • Local job sites
  • If you are already in the country, ask around, join networking groups, meet ups.
  • Teaching your language or working as a translator

So, get the sticky notes out, and cover the wall with them. What do you like to do, what skills do you have? What wouldn’t you do? What is possible where you are going?

Where to look for work

Once you’ve narrowed down your options it’s time to actually start finding jobs to apply for.  A few of my favourite sites when looking for work abroad that are global are:

There are always local sites, so research what they are, as many local employer will advertise there.  You can also make a list of the key international companies in that country and apply via their website directly.

If you are already in the country ask in local businesses, check the local papers or recruitment companies: wherever locals are looking and finding work.

Best places to look for work oversears

Applying and getting the job you want

Applying and getting the job is much more than a numbers game. You are applying and vying against locals who are equally skilled, easy to interview and employ.

You’ll need to make sure your cover letter stands out as much as your resume does. If you can’t wow them with your experience, make sure you make up for it in enthusiasm.

The best way to make a cover letter stand out is to be authentic and personalise it so that it addresses the job in question and isn’t a copy and paste job.  Whoever is reading it will know the difference.

Research on the company you are applying to. If you are applying for a job as a content specialist but notice they haven’t updated their social media, mention how you could change it. Do so in positive way, never point out too many negatives or be condescending.

Also be aware of their values, mission and how you might be able to make a difference and how you fit into that. What experience you bring that makes you stand out.

Also know what the challenges might be and address them. For instance, if they want someone bi-lingual, mention that you studying are at a intermediate level and are confident it will improve.

If it is a country where you have, or a country where you need a working visa – be honest.  Otherwise many employees won’t even look your application. Make it as easy as possible for them to take it through to the next step.

working in france

Covering the basics in your cover letter:

  • Why you want the job
  • What you can bring – experience, skills, examples of your successes
  • Finish strong, state you will call in the next two weeks to follow up. Request an interview for when you’ll be in the country of via skype.

Keep it simple, short, concise but enthusiastic in a professional manner.

The most important thing once you send off your application is to follow up on it.  A great percentage of people miss this step, it gives you an opportunity to stand out and show that you are serious about your application.

Call if possible, everyone sends emails and they quickly disappear down the queue in someone’s inbox. Calling is nerve-racking especially if in a foreign language.  Be confident, and list out your questions beforehand and have them in front of you.

Ask what the timing is, what the process is, when you can expect an answer.  If they are friendly, ask if they have everything they need, is there anything else they would like to know.  Again, it’s an opportunity to stand out, build rapport, be curious and friendly.

Be tenacious without being a stalker

There can be a fine line between having tenacity and creeping people out by calling every day.  However, showing enthusiasm and wanting the job is never a bad thing.

I’ve found if you are applying and are visiting the country in a few weeks most potential employers may be open to interview you during that time – so it never hurts to ask.  It’s also a good excuse to follow up and to call to see what’s possible.

Be sure to keep applying and for suitable jobs, you’ll get a lot of rejections but tweak your applications, get feedback and keep at it.

Going through the interview process

Find work abroad

While you might do the first interview rounds over skype, companies may want the last interview in person.  If possible and you are visiting the country, as the company what their standard is.

Some companies depending on the size will fly you in for an interview, smaller companies won’t so don’t expect it unless you work in a fairly skilled high paying niche.

If you do go for an interview, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  Line up as many interviews as you can before you go and brush up on any local customs, norms and dress codes.

Inform them of how long you’ll be in the country so if there are more interviews with in the country that you can do them all within that time frame.

The interview process goes both ways, envision yourself working there, ask the questions you are curious about. If you make it to the final stages of the process ask if you can meet the team.

Be sure to be clear on what the job entails, the benefits, salary and time off, as they vary greatly between companies and employers. Also be aware of what you need, certificates, references, working visa etc. before starting.  Again larger companies may arrange this for you, smaller local companies depending on the type of work may not.

Looking for a job locally

If you are visiting a country for an interview or a test run before contemplating the move, use the most of your time while there.  Make appointments, register with recruitment agencies – force an interview – not just online.

Go to expat groups and meet ups, and network at chamber of commerce, industry events that maybe on at the same time, or plan your trip to coincided with any that are taking place.

Meeting people and companies face to face can help to make a difference, it will also give you an idea on the jobs, work and culture.

Finally, once your found the right opportunity and are ready to fly.


A Guide to finding work abroad

Getting the job and starting work

This where your earlier preparation comes in handy.  Before you go make sure all the required paperwork is in order.

If the job doesn’t offer live-in accommodation, you can get short-term temporary accommodation while you look for something more permanent.

If you plan or undecided on whether to ship your goods overseas, my last post covers this topic in further detail.

Working overseas is an incredible experience and worth doing at least once in life. The experiences that you gain, the people that you meet. It changes you and creates memories that last a lifetime.

In the words of Kate Douglas Wiggin:

“There is a kind of magicness about going far away and then coming back all changed.” Kate Douglas Wiggin Click To Tweet

Photos and images are gratefully supplied by:

Mabel Amber, still incognito… from Pixabay
Maike und Björn Bröskamp from Pixabay
Ali Yahya on Unsplash
Yannis H on Unsplash
Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash



Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.