How to Find a Job Abroad & Make It Work

Finding a job abroad is something I have gotten surprisingly good at over the years…

I have had jobs in 11 different countries. Some of these jobs were short term summer jobs (and mainly an excuse to live abroad for a few months), others were more in line with my career. 

And apart from one time, I would always find a job abroad first before I moved to the country.

So, I want to share some of my tips here on how to find a job abroad and how to make sure this job and the whole experience abroad have the best chance of succeeding.

How to Find a Job Abroad

Well, I can answer that question with two simple words: perseverance and Google.

I have applied for dozens of jobs abroad. And most of them I found by simply spending an evening typing in phrases such as ‘marketing job Asia’ or ‘summer job Caribbean’, etc.

But, over the years I have learned a few tricks and found a few useful platforms:

Useful Tips For Finding a Job Abroad

how to find a job abroad
Swimming with a wild dolphin while I was living in St. Maarten, Caribbean

1. Goabroad.com

The website Jobs.goabroad.com has helped me find several jobs abroad. 

Admittedly, they have a lot of entry-level jobs so if you are further on in your career you will have to weave through a lot of uninteresting and extremely poorly paid positions, but they do offer jobs all over the world.

I loved this website especially when I was in my early to mid-twenties. At that time I didn’t care too much about the job contributing to my career, I just wanted to see the world!

It’s a good website to find fun summer jobs, teaching jobs, paid internships, etc. And they also have a good selection of volunteer options abroad.

Also Read: Volunteering Abroad – Why You Should or Shouldn’t Do It

2. Online Job Boards

Especially if you already know which country you want to move to job boards are a good tool for finding jobs abroad.

Find out (Google is your friend!) which job boards are used in the country you want to move to and apply to as many jobs as possible.

3. Facebook Groups & Your Personal Network

Again, this is especially useful when you already have an idea about which country or countries you would be interested in moving to.

Nowadays for almost every country in the world you can find a relevant Facebook group. Normally the group will be called something along the lines of “expats in [name of country]”. So I type in exactly that term into the Facebook search bar and join every Facebook group that sounds even remotely relevant.

Then in these Facebook groups you find a wealth of information about what it’s like to live and work in that country and you can post questions about how to find a job.

And of course if you have any personal connections in the country you want to move to, even if that connection is an “online friend” on LinkedIn or Facebook, definitely use that! Reach out to them and ask them how they went about finding a job abroad. 

Also Read: Living & Working Abroad – What You Thought vs What It’s Really Like

Going From Finding a Job Abroad to Making It Work

As I said: I have applied for A LOT of jobs abroad.

Some of my applications proved to be completely useless, not even giving me a reply, others gave me a polite rejection. But, quite a few companies seemed happy enough to employ me.

And that’s where it starts. Rather than only applying for that one job that sounds absolutely perfect (you don’t come across that one too often) I apply for any job that could be interesting, or is slightly less interesting but in a country I would love to live in for a while.

Then, after the company shows interest in me, I will start thinking more seriously about how good the job actually sounds.

How does the person I’m in contact with come across? How much effort (and money) would it cost me to move to this country? Etcetera…

That moment to me is when the real decision making starts. And here I believe four things are important:

1. The Country

What do you know about the country? Could you see yourself living here? Of course, you will never really know what it’s like to live in a particular country until you have actually lived there yourself but you can do some research.

Read about the current economic and political situation in the country and try to find stories from other expats living in the country.

Tip: Check out my Ask an Expat Series for interviews with expats in a large number of countries all over the world.

But, especially if you are only planning on staying in a country for a shorter period of time (less than a year) and are not moving with kids and not planning on buying property, I would say: every new country is interesting and will be an experience you will remember for the rest of your life!

I moved to two countries just after they had a coup and although you might say that’s not ideal, I never planned to permanently move to either one of these countries and for the time I was there, it was definitely a fascinating experience and interesting times for the country and the local population.

2. The Job

finding a job abroad
Having lunch at this incredible resort as part of my job in the Maldives

Does the job sound like something you can see yourself doing for the time of the contract? And maybe even more important: does the company sound reliable?

I don’t want to put anyone off accepting a job abroad but you are often dealing with completely different cultures and therefore with people with different mentalities and different values.

I have contacted my embassy in the country before just to make sure the company is legitimate and does what it says it does. Embassies, in general, are quite helpful and can give you that bit of extra security if you are planning to move to the other side of the world…

But, even after making sure the company exists and asking as many questions as you can to your person of contact, things will, so I’ve learned, very often turn out not to be exactly what you expected.

Again, the cultural differences and different mentalities will play a big role in this. Business owners in a country with a completely different culture than your own will often look at business and look at your role in the business differently than you would.

And no matter how many questions you ask and how many promises your new boss makes, you won’t really find out what the job is like until you have actually started it. So my advice is to be flexible and to be prepared to look for a different job if you do decide you like the country but not the job.

3. The Reward

Does the job come with a good salary?

In my experience, especially when you are trying to find a job abroad in a developing country, the salary offered will often be a lot lower than what you are used to back home. But then the cost of living will often be much lower as well.

Don’t automatically assume that to be the case though. Where food often is cheap in developing countries, rent in big, overcrowded cities can be surprisingly high.

Some countries might not offer sufficient public transport to live comfortably, requiring you to buy or rent a car/bike for the time you are there. This way the cost of living can turn out to be quite a bit higher than you first expected.

Do ask your employer about this but also try to find someone who is not linked to the company to give you some additional advice. I find Facebook groups and Couchsurfing.org a good place to find locals and expats in most countries. They are normally more than happy to give you some advice.

Although some expats are lucky enough to be offered a good job with a comfortable salary, I have also met many foreigners accepting jobs with minimal or no salary and have often done the same myself.

To me moving abroad is an amazing and very valuable experience. If I find the country interesting enough to move to, I’d often settle for a smaller financial reward than I would expect back home. I have worked for free food and accommodation, minimal pocket money and volunteered in several countries. Of course, you do need some savings (or some other source of income such as in my case my online marketing company) but often life is cheap enough not to need too much.

I find accommodation the most important thing: as long as the company takes care of that, you can keep the rest quite low budget. But of course this is up to you: are you willing to volunteer or work for a minimum compensation?

In my opinion, this should largely depend on the job and the country: if I believe the experience itself is rewarding enough I will accept a minimal financial reward. And, some of my best experiences abroad were actually not through finding a job abroad but when I was doing volunteer work!

4. The Way Out

how to work abroad
Walking home after a day’s work in India

I quite easily accept a new challenge abroad but I’m not naive about it. Things very often don’t work out the way you expected them to. The job can turn out to be a disaster or the country a place where you really don’t feel comfortable staying. That’s ok, as long as you came prepared.

From the first time I traveled alone (to Guatemala, when I was 17) I have always had three simple rules to feel safe and comfortable being abroad in an unknown country:

1. At All Times I Need to Know How I Can Get to the Airport

It might sound silly but I’ve lived in quite remote places and to know I can make my way back to the airport and wouldn’t have to rely on my boss or anyone else to make my way out of the country has always been important to me.

2. I Need to Be Able to Afford to Travel Back to the Airport

Where in developed countries a credit card is good enough, in developing countries I’ll always make sure I have enough cash.

3. I Need to Be Able to Afford a Flight Home

Flying back home from a remote location on the other side of the world can be expensive and the last thing I’d want is to feel stuck in a country because “I ran out of money”.

Unfortunately I’ve heard stories from quite a few young travelers who did run out of money. And although I’m absolutely sure that my parents would have helped me out exactly the same way their parents had to help them out, I would prefer to never end up in a situation like that.

Final Tips For Finding a Job Abroad And Making It Work

Yes, you can try to find a good job abroad and prepare yourself to make it into the best possible experience. But I can guarantee that your move abroad won’t turn out exactly as you expected.

So, my advice: be flexible, be open to new experiences and enjoy the ride!

Check our my Resources For Long Term Travel & Life Abroad page for some interesting links to help you find a job abroad and make the most of it.

If You Are Thinking About Finding a Job Abroad, Also Read:

 

 

Sanne Wesselman

Author: Sanne Wesselman
A traveler, wanderer, digital nomad, and entrepreneur. Owner of marketing company A to Z Marketing.
I spend most of my time living and working abroad and use this website to share "the good, the bad and the ugly" of traveling and living abroad. Visit the About Me page for more info.

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