Working abroad is not only a great experience, it can also boost your professional career internationally and open doors around the world. Your linguistic knowledge and intercultural skills will skyrocket, along with all other social skills. In short: if you have the opportunity to work abroad, do it! To help you prepare, we have compiled some things that you have to keep in mind, aspects to investigate and questions to ask yourself.
- Get all the information about visas and work permits
No matter how much you plan and organize, your dream of working abroad will ultimately depend on your visa or work permit. Therefore, the first step will be to find out what papers you need to be able to work legally in another country and what you need to get those papers. You have to keep in mind that getting a visa or a permit will require both time and money. You also have to know how long you can stay in the country with those documents; are they related to work or can you stay there for a certain time in any way?
- Be informed about the cost of life and your salary
The next important thing you have to consider from the list is money. You may not know exactly how much you are going to charge per month, but you have to know the average of the sector and compare it with the cost of living. You will have to find out how much money you will have left after paying the monthly expenses (rent, bills, taxes, etc.). (Few things can be as depressing as living in an incredible place and not being able to afford anything).
- Find out how to search job and a site to live
If you are excited about a specific city, investigate if it is difficult to find work and a place to live there. Find out how people go to work and how it will influence your budget and expectations. (Everything may be easier if you are flexible about the city where you are going to work, but you will still need a job and a roof over your head).
- Consider how long you will have
Probably one of the reasons why you want to go abroad is to know a different culture, and you will need to have time to do it. It may not seem very important to you at first, but find out how many days off (and because of illness) you will be entitled to, as this can change a lot depending on the country. Your adventure plans will come down if everything is going to work and you cannot travel, so make sure you have time (and money) to know the place and/or travel to your country to visit your family from time to time.
- Start creating a strong contact network
Having a network of contacts in another country is very important. Luckily, you do not need to travel to socialize and converse with other people. Use social media to meet other people in your sector. Asking people for help, advice or your opinion is a good way to open doors so you can start participating in Twitter and LinkedIn, join groups or forums and talk with expatriates and people from the country.
- Find out things about the country and its culture
Everything is wonderful when you are on vacation. We do not want to water the party, but living in another country may be something different: there will be expenses, taxes to pay and buses delayed. You may also live a little farther from the beach than you imagined. Okay, we are not saying everything is going to be worse, we just want you to be realistic and not to judge your future home as if it were a vacation place. It’s a good idea to visit before you move and ask if you could live there. It is also a good time to meet potential companies (even if only to create contacts), look for neighborhoods and talk with local people about the current work situation and living conditions.
- Think of how job is given there
Each culture has a different way of approaching job hunt, in most of the cases more formal approach is used with a lot of paperwork and in others, personal interaction is preferred. Find out how the people of that place find work and determine if you will be able to find something on your own (and from a distance) or if you will have to resort to an agency or company to select personnel.
- Learn how to write curriculum and letters of presentation
Now that you know how to look for work, you have to have everything ready to start the process: learn everything about the design, content, and formalities that must be taken into account when writing a resume and a cover letter for that country and try to make it as region-specific as possible. Make sure you know what personal data you have to include and what documents or references you have to attach.
- Be informed about the required diplomas and certificates if any
Depending on your studies, knowledge and work experience, you may be asked for diplomas or additional certificates (of languages) in your host country. Investigate the requirements for the position and find out how, where and when you can get the necessary documents. (This means that you may have to spend some time and money on getting them). If you need a certificate of your level of English, the EFSET test can be a good starting point (more information about English exams here).
- Prepare to live different situations
We suppose that if you want to go abroad to work, it is partly to know a different place, start a new chapter of your life and expand your horizons. But we have to mention this anyway: you have to prepare mentally, because you may feel a cultural shock, or that you miss your home or your country. And you will ask yourself questions such as “But, why?” For which the only answer is “Because that’s how it is”. It can happen to all of us, so you have to see it as a sign that you are maturing and becoming an exceptional person, and think of the good memories that will last your entire life.
- Have a plan b (only by herself)
Well, we do not want to demolish your projects, but to travel around the world it is better to always have an alternative strategy in case things do not go according to plan. For example, it is good to know how much time you can afford economically and how long you are allowed to be in a country without having a job. That said, it’s important that you calculate how much money you have to have saved as a reserve fund for difficult times.
If not now, when?
Lara Hawkins is a highly professional and well-experienced education management expert working since more than 10 years in the field of student career counseling and education management. She started by providing online assignment assistance to international students and excelled gradually as a renowned education consultant.