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Working abroad: how to find jobs overseas

New year, new job? Guest contributor Megan Lee of Go Overseas offers her expert advice on broadening your employment horizons.

1. What are the benefits of working abroad?

There are so many its hard to only pick a few! If you study or specialize in a foreign language, an obvious benefit of working abroad is immersion into your target language. You’ll also be fully experiencing a new culture, which typically proves both challenging and rewarding. Professionally speaking, employers find candidates with extended experience abroad attractive, as it showcases an individual’s understanding of the global economy. Working in a multi-cultural office often means developing advanced intercultural and interpersonal skills. You could test out the experience of working abroad by taking a working holiday – see our article: 10 Paycations: how to make money on holiday – but you’ll never know the benefits unless you take the leap of faith and try to work abroad – go for it!

2. What types of jobs are on offer for those looking to work overseas?

The most common job pursued abroad is teaching English. Those who speak English as a native language find that their skills and expertise are in high demand in a range of (often well paying) locations. These jobs are typically short-term (one year or less) and can be taken in both major cities and rural areas. Other popular options include business consultancy, food service, tourism companies and property. Many people choose to work for a company from their home country that allows for short term trips abroad to complete work.

3. Where is it easiest to find jobs abroad?

For an English-speaking native, without a doubt, the easiest job to find abroad is a teaching gig. If you travel to countries where your physical appearances stray from the ‘norm’ of the locals, you also may walk down the street and find yourself approached by multiple people offering you modelling jobs. These are quite easy to come by, especially if you do it once (the opportunities just keep on coming!).

4. Do you need any special qualifications to work overseas?

The biggest challenge that individuals face when finding work abroad is working for a company that will sponsor a proper work visa for their employment. Many companies try to sneak around this in order to avoid the high fees the government will tax for employing foreigners. They may ask you to use a third party agency to sponsor a visa or ask you to work on tourist/other type of visa. Some may tell you it is quite commonplace and normal to earn money without a working visa but it is also best practice to do it the proper (and legal) way!

5. How difficult is it to get visa/work permits?

This varies from country to country and unfortunately often depends on your nationality. Certain countries will have an easier time getting a specific type of visa to a country than others will. If you are considering moving overseas to work for a company, make sure they are legitimate – contact past employees or read reviews of others’ experiences working there if possible. The company should have no problem organizing the documents for you to apply for a proper work visa before you arrive.

6. I don’t know any foreign languages but would love to work in a non-English speaking country – what are my options?

Of course, learning a foreign language has its benefits, but you can get by without. As previously mentioned, teaching English to others (especially children) or relying on that pretty face of yours may get you some good gigs to enable you to sustain a life abroad. You could also work with tour operators and lead groups around the country – just make sure your company has hired a local who speaks both English and the native language! Many companies will find that their clients feel at ease when they are being lead by someone who speaks a familiar language. There are also many larger companies that operate in an English-speaking business environment. Typically, these companies are owned by expats themselves. Check job boards and the like on popular classified websites in your home country to seek these types of opportunities. If you’re thinking of learning the local lingo, see our useful article: 7 secrets of learning language fast.

7. How much money can I earn working overseas?

The amount of money you earn will really vary dependent on where you choose to live and your line of work. Speaking specifically to teaching English, east Asia is famous for offering high salaries and great benefit packages to teachers willing to commit to one- year posts. South America, conversely, operates on more of a ‘teachers-break-even’ payment scale. The Middle East also pays teachers an above-average wage. Your company may pay you in local currency or in the currency that it does business in (such as the British pound or USD). A perk of living in a less-developed country is that it often means your dollar can go a lot further. The lower cost of living coupled with your salary (even if it is not particularly fancy by the standards in your home country) mean for extra money in the bank! More established companies will offer a fancy salary package to current employees willing to relocate overseas. Be warned of getting too wrapped up in expat circles and not interacting regularly with the locals!

8. How long do I have to commit for?

You should commit to living and working abroad for at least a year, as that is the minimal amount of time to even just begin getting to know and understand a place. If you want to make the most of your experience and potential, consider sticking around as long as possible.

9. I’ve never been abroad – how will I cope with a different culture?

I won’t lie, it can be tough to adjust to a new way of living, especially when that experience is magnified by trying to function in a new culture. For newbies, consider living in a more internationalized and larger city in a foreign country – you’ll be surprised by how many familiar brands and establishments you’ll see popping up on the streets. Most larger cities have a great expat crowd you can fall back on should you feel particularly homesick. Most importantly, don’t give up and don’t rush the process. It should take you a few months to feel confident and comfortable in your new locale (and you’ll still have occasional moments of culture shock). Don’t feel discouraged. Having new friends will certainly ease the pain and help you grow more attached to a place. Be social and up for anything!

10. Where (and what jobs) are the most popular places for getting jobs overseas?

Expats looking for work in the IT, manufacturing, finance or international marketing fields will find Shanghai appealing – as well as the nearby cities of Singapore and Hong Kong (great first tastes of Asia as they are financial giants and largely do business in English). Those interested in engineering, aeronautics, automobiles etc will be most drawn to countries such as France, Germany, and England. The UAE and Guangzhou or Shenzhen, China are popular with expats interested in manufacturing and trade. Australia will forever remain an attractive destination for working abroad, from backpackers to expats alike. It offers just about anything to internationals! For teaching jobs, popular locations include Japan, South Korea, China, Argentina, and Peru!

Megan Lee works with Go Overseas and will take advantage of any opportunity to chat travel. Keep up with Meg on Twitter (@peglegmeg) and Google+

Want to learn more about the options for working abroad?

Listen or download the Skyscanner travel podcast below: 11 Ways to Work Abroad