Working Abroad

  | James Innes

Relocating to work overseas, either during a gap year or on a permanent basis, is a life-changing decision and there are a number of considerations that should be taken into account before you make your move.  However, working overseas can provide you with a wealth of new insights and opportunities simply not available to you in the UK job market.

Making the decision

Before you commit to relocation, think carefully about what you are leaving behind.  This not only includes your friends and family but also any property you may have.  You may need to choose between selling or renting out your home or making sure that you have fulfilled your legal requirements if you are currently renting.  Are there any language barriers that you will have to overcome before you can consider relocating to a foreign country?  Although English is spoken in most countries now, this does not necessarily mean that you will be able to find a job if you cannot speak the native language.  Also, be sure that the decision to relocate overseas is one that will have a positive impact on your long-term career.  Is the time right for you or would you be better to wait until your skills set is stronger so that your earnings potential improves?

Do your homework

Probably the first decision you need to make is which country you wish to relocate to.  Only then can you begin to find out what will be required of you before you can obtain employment there. Entry requirements vary from country to country although all EU and EEA member countries will permit entry to UK passport and identity card holders for up to three months before a residence permit is required.  Employment within the EU is probably the most secure option in that you are guaranteed the same benefits and entitlements as you are in the UK, although you may have to have paid tax and social security contributions before you become eligible for these.

Working visas are generally required for any extended periods within a foreign country and there are usually strict criteria that you must meet before these will be issued.  Many of the developed countries including the USA, Australia and New Zealand will only permit overseas workers on extended visas if they offer a unique skills set that cannot be provided by employees from within their own countries. This means that entry into these countries is often very difficult indeed, although the engineering and IT disciplines are currently in demand.

It is helpful to visit the country you wish to work in before you relocate so that you can be absolutely sure that you will be able to integrate into the different society and culture.  Find out where your local consulate and embassy are as they can not only help you with work permits and visa applications but can also provide you with useful guidance and support during your job search.

Make sure that your CV is tailored towards the country you wish to work in – different countries use different formats of CV or resume.  For example, if applying for work in the USA, it is important to use Americanised spelling rather than UK English.  Your cover letter should also be very strong and should clearly highlight where you can add value to the role over and above other applicants who are native to the country.

Tips on finding a job

Finding a job in a foreign country is not necessarily as difficult as it may at first appear, depending of course on the nature of your job search.  Temporary or seasonal employment is generally relatively easy to come by whereas permanent positions can be harder to find.  The general rule, however, is that the entire process of finding a job and completing the relocation can be a lengthy one and you should start to plan ahead for at least a year before you intend to move.

Possibly the easiest way of finding overseas employment is to relocate with a UK-based company.  Many of the larger organisations have offices in foreign countries and, if you can offer the appropriate skills and, preferably some knowledge of the language, relocation could be an ideal option for you.

Most countries have specialist agencies who not only recruit for local businesses but also offer a range of free advice and support for overseas workers, in the past we have worked with both, an Australian agency that offers foreign, skilled workers the chance to get direct access to Australian employers that are willing to sponsor and require certain skill sets- and the guide. If you are considering a move overseas, a quick internet search will find local agencies and organisations who are set up to advise you on the in-and-outs of working abroad.

The Internet really has opened up the international jobs market enabling you to search specific company websites for employment opportunities or even international recruitment sites.  Also, visiting the country you wish to relocate to, armed with plenty of copies of your CV, is an ideal starting point.  This will enable you to make contact with people in your industry sector, including any other expatriates from the UK who may be able to help and advise you in your job search.  You may also be able to contact trade organisations and acquire a copy of a local telephone directory so that you can continue your job search when you return to the UK.

Voluntary work

It is possible to break into the international employment market by initially undertaking voluntary work.  This can help to strengthen your CV and provide you with an invaluable insight into the nature of employment in your country of choice, which can therefore help you to decide whether or not this is the right move for you.  Voluntary work is also considered to be character building as it usually involves working for an organisation that is helping people who are disadvantaged.  There are many international aid organisations that you can work for including the Red Cross and Oxfam.

Relocation overseas is a very big step indeed and for some it does not work out exactly as they had hoped.  However, as long as you are fully prepared for the undertaking, you should find that the experience is thoroughly rewarding and can only add value to your long-term career.

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