by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
More and more job-seekers are realizing the many benefits of gaining international work experience — both personally and professionally. You can gain global work at any stage of your career, though it is often easier to find full-time employment once you have at least several years of experience domestically. College students and recent grads, however, can also find a variety of international experiences.
What are the keys to successfully finding an overseas job or international internship? What follows are some straightforward guidelines, tips, and suggestions for achieving your goals in your global job-search.
[Note for more detailed information about international job-hunting, go to this section of Quintessential Careers: Job and Career Resources for Global Job-Seekers.]
- Do have a goal in mind for what you hope to accomplish with your international work experience. And do have a plan for returning home and continuing your career once you’re finished working overseas.
- Don’t expect to get a great international job assignment right out of college; most employers want you to have some local (domestic) experience before heading overseas.
- Do develop a detailed job-search strategy that includes the types of positions you seek and the employers and countries you seek them in. It’s much better to have a specific list of countries and employers that you can focus on.
- Don’t expect quick results from your global job-search; your international job-search will take much longer, on average, than a domestic job-search.
- Do conduct the same kind of thorough research on the countries and employers in which you seek employment as you would for a domestic job-search. In fact, do consider conducting an even more comprehensive research effort (including research culture, cost-of-living, salaries, housing). [Find great research tools in our Guide to Researching Companies, Industries, and Countries.]
- Don’t forget that in many parts of the world, a curriculum vitae (CV) rather than a resume is expected by employers. And do remember to tailor your CV (just as you would your resume) — both to the guidelines of specific countries as well as to the specific nature of the jobs and employers. [Read more about an international CV here.]
- Do use the power of your network of contacts to build and expand your international network so you can optimize your chances of obtaining job/internship leads. [Learn more about networking here.]
- Do consider joining one or more international organizations, especially those with members or chapters in the parts of the world in which you seek to work.
- Don’t rely on international job boards as your sole means of applying to jobs.
- Do consider using the connections from your college’s career services, study abroad, and alumni offices to track down international network connections and potential job leads.
- Do seek advice from your mentors about strategies for finding international job leads.
- Don’t eliminate countries or parts of the world because you don’t speak the language, but do try to develop some degree of fluency in multiple languages — and especially the one for the country/area you are seeking.
- Do focus on your key credentials for working overseas, such as language fluency, cultural competencies, flexibility, adaptability, teamwork, and communications skills.
- Don’t forget to consider the feelings, needs, and wants of your significant other and children (if you have them) in terms of your international experience — and its impact on them. For example, some spouses may not be able to work.
- Do consider taking a trip to the country (or countries) in which you want to work and do inform the companies you are interested that you will be in the area would like to stop by.
- Do consider multiple work-abroad options. For established job-seekers, focus first on your current employer before examining both domestic companies with international offices and foreign and multinational employers. For students or new college grads, consider internships, volunteering, and government work in addition to international and multinational employers.
Finally, once you are overseas, do be prepared for culture shock and elements of home-sickness. Do consider seeking out other expatriates living in the area, but don’t rely on them for all your contacts — do go out and meet the locals.
- Don’t forget to keep actively networking while overseas — whether for other international experiences or to assist in landing a new job on your return home.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.
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