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How to Get an Overseas Job

by Robert Morello

Finding work overseas involves dealing with long-distance applications, international immigration laws and differences in language and culture as well as taking a leap of faith into the unknown. Understanding how to begin that process can reduce some fear and introduce you to a world of opportunity.

Determine which parts of the world you would like live in and are eligible to work in. Your choices should depend on factors such language skills and work permit availability. For example, if you speak only English, you may wish to search for work in places where English is spoken, such as Australia, New Zealand or the United Kingdom. You may also find English spoken by professionals in places like Japan or Switzerland. If you do have foreign language skills, your window of opportunity will open that much wider.

Research the laws that govern foreign workers in your chosen destination to find out what you need in order to work there legally. A work permit may be required; these can be obtained through your employer once you've been hired. Once obtained, a work permit usually has a set time limit after which it must be renewed or the worker must leave the country.

Search international job sites in your chosen field to find out about openings and companies seeking foreign workers. The qualifications depend on the jobs available. For example, you may be able to find work teaching English abroad with no qualifications other than that you are a native English speaker with a college degree. Depending on the destination country and its laws, things like housing and transportation may be taken care of by the employer.

Consider taking a summer position with a company abroad to sample the lifestyle and make contacts that may lead to a longer-term gig. Summer openings are typically posted six months ahead of time, so have your applications in early. Many large American companies, universities, political institutions and summer camps hire U.S. citizens for temporary positions before investing the time and money involved with obtaining long-term work permits. If you do a good job, you may be asked to return on a full-time basis.

Pay special attention to the Asian job market, where talent from overseas is in especially high demand. Teachers of all disciplines and levels of expertise are needed to educate students from China to Thailand in the ways of western business and culture. These countries often facilitate work permits and housing arrangements and offer competitive pay as compared with Europe and other regions where the local economy is shrinking rather than expanding.

Tip

  • Consider working as a consultant on a freelance basis for a U.S. company. When you are employed abroad by a U.S. company, you do not have to worry about obtaining work permits to continue being paid while you live outside the U.S.

Warning

  • If you are the adventurous type, you may believe that arriving in a new country with some business suits and copies of your resume is the best way to find a job. Although this may sound fun and challenging, the odds of finding a position and securing the permits necessary to stay legally are not very good. It's best to line up interviews and have a foot in the door before taking off.

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