10 tips for those who want to work abroad
Working abroad is not only an amazing experience, it can also launch your international career and open doors to new opportunities around the world. Your language skills will improve to astronomical levels and your cross-cultural skills will break the bank as you learn new things. In short: if you have the opportunity to work abroad, go! To help you prepare, we’ve put together some things to consider, facts to research, and questions to ask (yourself).
1. Learn all about visas and permits
No matter how much you plan and organize yourself, your dream of working abroad will come up against a visa or a work permit. Therefore, knowing what paperwork you need to legally work in another country – and what you need to get those documents – will be the first step. Make sure you are taking into account that the visa or permit may take some time to prepare. You will also need to know how long you can keep these documents – are they tied to a company or can you stay there for a period of time regardless of the company you work for?
2. Research the cost of living VS your salary
Next on the list of important things to consider: money. You may not even know exactly how much money you’ll make per month, but you need to know the industry average salary and how that compares to the local cost of living. You basically need to figure out how much money will be left over when the month’s bills are paid. (Some things can be disheartening like living in an amazing place but not having the money to enjoy it).
3. Find out where to get a job and a place to live
If a city has your heart, research how easy it will be to find jobs and housing. Research how people commute to work and how that affects your budget and expectations. (Things can be easier if you want to move to a country and be more flexible about where you want to work, but you still need a job and a roof over your head).
4. Consider your free time
One of the reasons for moving to another country is probably because you want to explore a new culture – and you’ll need time to do that. This might not sound that important at first, but figure out how much free time you’ll have, as this can vary between countries. Too much work and too little travel can spoil your plans, so make sure you have time (and money) to explore and/or visit your family from time to time.
5. Build a network
Networking in another country is crucial – hopefully, you won’t even need to travel there for a chat: Use social media to find and connect with people in your industry. Asking someone for help or advice is always a way to get an open door, so start activating Twitter and LinkedIn, join groups or forums and talk to locals.
6. Learn about the country and its culture
When you’re on vacation, everything is a little more amazing. We don’t want to get your plans wet, but living in another country will be a little different: There will be bills, taxes and late buses. You could also live further from the beach than you’d like. Now, we’re not saying that everything is going to be bad, we just want you to be realistic and not judge your future home. A good idea is to visit your future country and ask yourself if you really want to move there. This time can also be good for finding a potential employer (even if it’s just for networking), looking around neighborhoods and talking to locals about the current job market and quality of life.
7. Learn how locals find work
Different cultures have different ways of looking for a job – some have a more formal style with a lot of paperwork while others prefer a more personal interaction. Research how locals find their jobs and find out if you’ll be able to do something yourself (away from home) or if you’ll have to go through a recruitment agency.
8. Study how to put together a CV and cover letters
Now that you know how to find a job, you need to have everything ready for the process to begin: Learn all about the layout, content and formalities of writing a CV and cover letters in your new country (and your industry too). Make sure which personal details are required and which documents to include.
9. Read about potential degrees and certifications
Depending on your education, skills and experience, your new home may ask for an extra proficiency degree or certificate. Research what it takes for that job and learn how, where and when to get the necessary documents. (That means you’ll have to spend more time and money to get where you want to go.)
10. Prepare for different things
Exploring something new, starting a new chapter in your life and broadening your horizons are (hopefully) reasons why you want to work abroad. Make sure you’re prepared for the possibilities of culture shock, homesickness, and a few “but why?” – questions that always accompany a “are things like that”. This happens to everyone, so take it as a sign that you’re growing up to become even more amazing and you’re about to create memories that will last the rest of your life.