Finding a Job

Finding a Job Abroad

Increasing numbers of people are keen to try to find a job overseas.  In an increasingly global economy experience of working in different countries is seen as an essential step in career progression in multinational companies.  For others it is simply about enjoying working in a new environment, culture and climate.  Some plan to work for a few years overseas before continuing their career at home whereas others relocate permanently to a new country.


Choosing Where to Work Overseas

The first step in seeking to find a job overseas is to decide where you want to work.  This is a very personal choice driven by the motivation for seeking to work overseas.  Research the political, economic and cultural environment and learn as much as possible about your intended destination to be sure you will have the lifestyle that you are seeking and that it will benefit your long term career.  The internet and libraries provide useful information, but friends and family with first hand experience of working in a region can be invaluable.

Understand the normal working hours with long hours a natural part of life in China, the working week running from Sunday to Thursday in the Middle East (and some working a sixth day), evening working are seen in some Southern European countries.

Immigration and work permit arrangements will determine whether you will be able to work in a country.  EU citizens can move within the EU with no restrictions, but all countries have some level of control and in some cases this can be quite restrictive.  In many countries, companies can only offer employment to expats if they can prove that there are no home nationals or visa holders who are suitable.  Check the outline immigration requirements for each country set out on the World of Expats Destination pages.

Finding a Job Overseas

There are many routes to finding a job overseas just as there are to finding a job in your domestic market.  As with domestic jobsearches the most efficient approach will depend on the nature and level of role you are seeking.  There are a number of approaches to pursue:

  • - Our sister site Expat Network offers hundreds of hand selected engineering jobs, both permanent and contract, based all over the world.  It also offers specialist advice and resources for international job seekers.

These are just some of the many sites which list worldwide jobs, but you will need to have the right to work or find an employer willing to take on the immigration processing to take you on. 

  • Recruitment agencies – Many recruitment agencies cover roles globally or in a number of countries.  You should identify agencies that deal with roles suitable for you and make contact.
  • Professional Bodies and Industry Groups – if you are a member of a professional body or industry group this can be a useful source of information on the opportunities in overseas markets.
  • Online journals, magazines and newspapers – many have job sections and may also help you to identify which companies are active in your chosen destination.
  • Alumni – School, University and particularly Business School alumni organisations can be very useful in providing leads to people working in your target destination and are often set up to provide assistance.
  • Networking – as in any jobsearch one of the most effective sources of a role overseas may be your own network.  Networking direct with people in your industry can highlight opportunities overseas and companies recruiting for overseas roles.  Make everyone aware of your desire to work abroad.  You can also use tools like LinkedIn and other social media to spread your enquiries to your connections and on to their networks.  You should also contact anyone you know in your target country and use social networking opportunities where you can advise of your interest in finding a role, but also ask for advice on the best local jobsboards, recruitment agencies etc

Applying for a Job

Once you have identified potential employers you will need to prepare an effective application.  Recognize that there are different application process in different countries, especially regarding the level of personal information.   In the USA anti-discrimination regulations and attitudes has led to the removal of personal information whereas in France it is likely your résumé/C.V. will include a picture, date of birth and family details including the number of children.

Your CV should include clear evidence of qualifications and be presented in a culturally sensitive way.  Include a short ‘objective’ statement in your CV or your covering letter to state what you are looking for and what supports your ability to achieve that objective.  The CV should be formal and not attempt to include humour.  The work history section should indicate where your experience was gained to demonstrate your ability to adjust to different environments.

Recognize that CVs will probably be reviewed electronically to narrow down applicants.  Adopt the qualities of an electronic CV and include all key words the recruitment company is likely to be seeking to identify the required skills, qualifications and experience.   It can be difficult to weave in the keywords without losing the flow of your experience.  A summary list of qualifications tailored to the requirements of the job allows you to include all relevant keywords.

Include all other relevant information such as visa status, language proficiency, cross-cultural training or international experience.

Applications from outside the country inevitably face difficulties and sending the application from a local address, including the mobile phone number of someone who lives locally or including a specific arrival date can help.


Although you may be able to hold the first interview by phone, be clear on any cultural differences and ensure you come across well.  Demonstrate your ability to adapt to your planned new environment.  Confidence and independence may come across well in the USA, but in Brazil which has a greater focus on teamwork and hierarchy this may not be well received.  In the UK psychometric and skill testing along with role-playing may be used whereas the focus in Japan initially will be on your personality and personal life in informal discussions.

The practicalities of travelling for interview may mean you will need to commit to a trip to the country to make contacts and try to tie in networking meetings and interviews.