Working abroad can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. On the one hand, it is a great demonstration of your professional capability, showing you can step outside your comfort zone and navigate the challenges of a foreign work environment. At the same time, it is a fantastic opportunity for personal development, boosting your confidence to embrace new opportunities and engage with people across linguistic and cultural divides.
However, there are a couple of important things to note if you’re considering applying for a job abroad. Here are five keys things you need to remember:
What kind of work?
Obviously, to apply for a job abroad, you need to know what kind of work you’re looking for. This largely depends on your motivations and how long you’re planning to stay. If you’re relocating abroad permanently, you’ll likely want a full-time job, preferably, one related to your current career path. If you’re a university student, or on a language exchange program, you’ll maybe want to consider temporary internship programs, allowing you to gain work experience in your chosen country for three to six months. For short-term jobs, perhaps even for just a few weeks, organised volunteer schemes are worth investigating.
Know the regulations
It’s crucial to know what kind of work you’re legally entitled to carry out in your host country. In some cases, not holding the correct visa can lead to deportation or even jail. If you work for a multinational company, they can often arrange the necessary visas and permits to allow you to work at their local office. However, if you don’t, you must apply for a work permit through the relevant embassy. Be aware, though, that many countries won’t offer you a work visa unless you have a pre-arranged job in the country; you can’t just turn up and apply for positions.
When it comes to carrying out internships or volunteering, contrary to popular belief, many countries forbid foreigners from doing so on regular tourist visas, even if they aren’t getting paid. British passports sometimes qualify for a 90-day waiver, which means you’re exempt from the relevant visa for stays shorter than this time, but the bottom line is, check the requirements.
Your cover letter and CV
Writing your cover letter and CV for a job abroad is much the same as doing so at home. Saying that there are a few important things to remember for your overseas applications. Firstly, unless you’re applying to an English-speaking company, write your CV and cover letter in the target language. Also, clarify any qualifications, grades or culturally-nuanced detail. For example, an employer in Brazil might not be familiar with A-Levels or a First-Class Honours degree, so research their cultural equivalent. This is the same even for English-speaking countries. Does anyone know what their grade point average is?!
Again, an interview abroad isn’t unlike an interview back at home. Be confident, friendly and demonstrate your professional skills and stellar attitude. However, it’s a big boost to your appeal if you can show cultural awareness of your host country. So, before your interview, do your homework! What’s the political situation like in Germany? Which is the most popular football team in Argentina? Which big celebrations are coming up in Israel? This will create camaraderie with your employers but will also show that you are respectful, inquisitive, and willing to embrace cultures different from your own … like a cross-border team player!
And if you get it…
Congratulations! Now, get your paperwork in order, read your contract and start making preparations for your departure. Most importantly, though, enjoy it! Besides the professional prowess that working abroad will give you, it’ll also allow you to gain an intimate insight into the culture, customs and attitudes of your host country and develop far more meaningful relationships than you ever could as a normal tourist.