International Job Hunt: Working Outside Your Home Country
Whether you are suffering from wanderlust or you’ve gotten news that you and your family have to relocate, getting a job in another country can be a challenge. Cultural differences, as well as legal constraints, can make it difficult for non-citizens to find a job in some countries. Still, with persistence and family support, you may be able to launch a great career in a foreign land.
All nations have policies that regulate the ability of non-citizens to visit, live in or hold employment in their country. If you wish to work in another country, you’ll have to apply for a visa that allows you to do so.
Visas are legal authorizations that allow you to engage in specific activities in a country. Not all visas give holders the same rights, however. Some common visa types include:
- Tourist visa: Many countries require visitors to obtain a tourist visa either before they arrive or when they first enter the country. Tourist visas allow holders to take in the sights and engage in leisure activities but prohibit employment.
- Student visa: A visa that allows holders to go to school while in the country. Some student visas enable holders and their spouses to work; others don’t.
- Spousal visa: If you are married to a resident or citizen of another country, he may be able to sponsor you for a spousal visa. This will allow you to live in his country and, in many cases, work there.
- Employment visa: This is a visa that allows you to live and work in the issuing country. Depending on the type of visa you have, you may only be allowed to work for the company that sponsors you, or you may be at liberty to work for any business that is willing to hire you.
Before you invest time and energy in an international job hunt, learn the visa system in the country where you want to work. There’s no point in trying to get a job in a country that will not authorize a visa. If you know the names of various types of employment visas, the language in job postings will make more sense to you. For example, if a listing indicates that the company is open to helping a qualified applicant obtain a work visa, you can apply for this job before you relocate.
Choosing and Researching a Country
If you aren’t yet sure which country you’d like to work in, or you do know where you want to work, but don’t know their visa rules, it’s time to do some research. Some ideas to get you started:
- Pick a region: If you aren’t sure where you’d like to work, start by checking out specific regions. Consider factors like climate, culture and, perhaps, most importantly, the language or languages that you speak. From there, you can select a few countries to start researching.
- Understand the cost of living: Before you can successfully negotiate a job offer, you’ll need to know how much money you’ll need to live comfortably in the country of your choice. In some cases, you may find that expenses may vary wildly. For example, health care in many European countries is free at point of service, but you may pay higher taxes, and consumer goods may be more costly.
- Identify employment shortages: Many countries have labor shortages in specific industries and professions. These nations will often make the visa process more accessible for people who have the necessary skills for these jobs.
- Check visa application rules: If you already know where you want to work or have a short list of countries, check out their visa rules. Some countries can be incredibly strict, while others allow everyone with a clean criminal record and enough savings to support themselves to enter the country and try their luck at finding a job. Developing nations, in particular, may be open to immigrant workers with professional experience and credentials in health care, technology, engineering and other highly skilled occupations.
- Research family requirements: Since you have a family, it’s essential to find out how easy it will be for you to bring them overseas. If you find a country that has visa requirements that you can meet, find out what you will need to do to get visas for your family.
Once you’ve identified the country in which you want to work, begin doing some research. Check job boards, let your professional and social networks know that you are looking for employment, and visit the websites of major employers to see if they have any job listings that interest you.
Preparing for an Overseas Job Search
Much of the preparation for an overseas job search is similar to your previous job searches in your home country. However, you will have some additional considerations:
- Resume vs. CV: In the United States, people who are seeking non-academic jobs typically submit a resume, a short document that highlights career roles and education, to hiring managers and HR departments. A curriculum vitae (CV), is a lengthier document that includes much more detail and is in chronological order; it’s used when applying for academic and research jobs. However, in the United Kingdom and Europe, the term CV is used to describe a document similar to a U.S. resume. If you are concerned about acceptable formatting, hire a professional who is experienced in preparing CVs to help with yours.
- Credentials: Countries have their own education, licensing and credentialing systems. Do some research on the educational system, as well as certification and licensing requirements in the country where you want to find a job. It may take some time for you and a prospective employer to determine whether your current credentials are equivalent to what is required in that country.
- Language skills: Even if you already speak the language used in the country where you want to live and work, you may want to take steps to improve your skills. The more fluent you are, the more impressive you’ll be in job interviews, and you will likely have a more comfortable adjustment after you begin work.
- Paperwork: If you receive a job offer, you may have to begin the relocation process very quickly. Make sure that every member of your family has a passport and that your passports won’t expire any time soon. Start gathering documents that you may need for the visa application process, including official copies of your birth certificates, marriage certificates, and in some cases, death certificates or divorce decrees.
If you are still in your home country while job hunting, keep in mind the time differences between you and the hiring managers when scheduling phone or Skype interviews. Another thing to consider is that many countries use a different date format from that used in the United States. In the U.S., May 2, 2018, is often written as 5/2/2018. However, in Great Britain, that same date is written as 2/5/2018. Don’t miss an important deadline because you misread a date.
Relocation to another country is a life-changing event. Make your transition easier on yourself and your family by preparing as much as possible prior to the move. Pay attention to:
- Job contract: If you receive an offer from an employer, get a job contract. You’ll need it for the visa application process. Plus, it’s important to have the offer in writing before you quit your current job, sell your home and begin packing your belongings.
- Relocation package: When you negotiate your salary, ask about a relocation package. In some cases, employers will be willing to pay all or part of your moving expenses. They may even provide you with a place to live for the first month or two in your new country.
- Visa assistance: The process of applying for a visa can be a lengthy one. Your new employer’s HR department should be able to help you with this process, but you may need to seek legal advice.
- Medical issues: Have your physician send copies of your medical records to your new doctor. If you are moving to a developing country, ask your physician about recommended vaccinations.
- School issues: Ask your employer for input on schools for your children. Arrange for your children’s educational records to be sent to their new schools.
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Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.