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How can I find a job abroad?


Recently I took part in an online Q&A  organised by the Guardian on the challenges and opportunities of working abroad and provided advice and tips for graduates and experienced professionals on how to land a job overseas.

Here are some of the key questions that came up in the discussion and my answers to them:

I am a graduate with a few years of marketing experience, looking to work abroad to enhance my career and try something new. I have some European languages but am interested in career/ job prospects in South East Asia. Do you have any suggestions for what opportunities may be out there, and how to approach these? I have a good degree in English and a Masters.

May I ask which industries are of most interest to you? There is a growing number of opportunities in SE Asia within the financial services, consultancy and consumer goods. Also would be good to know which particular countries are of most relevance. For instance, Singapore is booming now (and for a while already) in the financial services industry, India is recruiting a lot of consultants from abroad. Within marketing in particular, consumer goods companies such as P&G, Unilever etc could be of interest to you but you would probably be expected to start as a marketing assistant or other junior marketing level.

Any tips on getting offered or applying for jobs before you are actually ‘there’? How do you get employers to take your application seriously when you are still in another country?

Another way is to apply for a Master’s degree or an MBA in the country of interest or any other professional course. It is much easier to source the relevant work visa and establish your presence in the target country after having completed an advanced degree from a university there.

How do you get companies to take you seriously and hopefully, offer you a job, when you’re in Europe and you’re applying for jobs in the US? I’m looking at journalism jobs in the US – there seem to be so many more jobs over there than in the UK when you look at job websites, but in reality, if you don’t have US residency/visa etc do you have a chance of being successful?

I would say that it will be more challenging for you to get a job in the US due to the visa realities, however, it is not impossible. The main thing is to get to know as many people in the field out in the US as you can, arrange informal Skype chats to ask them questions about their work, companies etc, get to know them well so that once the time comes and the position opens up, they can recommend you within their organisations. I would say applying online will probably yield fewer results if you don’t adopt an effective networking strategy simultaneously.

I currently work in Sweden, and am a 32 year old engineer from London. I am looking at moving to Canada to work in the next few years, but of course want to bring my wife and 2 year old Swedish son with me! How can i best use sites like linked in and the internet to ‘fish’ for work, bearing in mind visa restrictions in Canada are pretty tough.

First of all, I would suggest identifying companies of interest to you. After that, it is critical to update your LinkedIn profile to present your professional brand in the most positive light. Make sure your career achievements to date are clearly indicated and you write a good summary. Then reach out to people in your target companies and try to set up Skype informational interviews with them. You may need to travel to Canada for a week or so to meet with these people in person – you can set up a week of intensive meetings to make it worthwhile.

Are there opportunities for non-graudates to do TEFL/ work abroad? I have extensive experience in utility control rooms and studying LLB part-time and my girlfriend is CIMA-qualified but we don’t have degrees. Is age a barrier regardless of qualifications/ career prospects (I’m nearing 40)?

Having taught abroad a long time ago, I would have to say that a degree is a prerequisite for well-paid and recognized TEFL positions. However, a lot of people work during the summer period in countries such as Korea, China in summer schools and often you don’t need BSc to get a job in summer TEFL camps. All you need is a good application and a desire to work with kids and teach them English through games and other engaging activities.

Hi, I’m and American finishing my MBA in Germany right now. My concentration is finance, but I’m pretty good at managerial/cost accounting as well. I’ve got a bit of experience with internal corporate accounting, and ran my own business for a while. Which countries should I be looking for work in? I’ve been looking in Germany, but I’m not sure if my best opportunities are here or elsewhere. I speak German, but I’m probably not “business fluent” yet.

Which university are you doing your degree with? Mannheim? UK should be your first port of call I would say (excl the US of course) if you want to concentrate on the financial services market. Also Singapore and Middle East are actively seeking fresh MBAs.

What would you recommend for finding a marketing role in Australia? Ideally within luxury retail

I would suggest getting in touch with managers (and more junior employees) in your target companies in Australia. You should polish your online professional brand and make sure your CV and Cover Letter are tailored according to the latest standards within the marketing industry in Australia. Recording a digital resume can be a good way to promote your skills and showcase your personality ‘long-distance’ and once you get in touch with the right people, they can see who you are even before actually talking to you.

Hi I am 56 and looking to relocate possibly to the Philippines I have an MBA and have specialised in Organisational Development, Change Management and Training and Development programs. I have holidayed there on several occasions and like the culture and lifestyle. My plan is to research areas to work and live in and to join LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter groups to network and then visit for a few weeks to meet connections and hopefully secure work. Do the panel think my age is a barrier and can they offer any advice on other options I can take to make a successful transition?

I would say that setting up solid profiles in social media and then reaching out to the companies that are of interest is all good. However, you should also think about optimising your application documents to the relevant country. To be completely honest, age could be a factor (although of course it shouldn’t be) so making sure you create a strong case as to why you are looking for this change now and what you can bring to a particular role (in your case, years of experience and a strong academic background) is absolutely critical.
Good luck!



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