Working abroad

Working overseas can provide excellent business experience and networking opportunities, and allows you to earn money while sampling the culture and lifestyle of a new country.

Emerging markets are always keen to recruit skilled professionals from other countries, while locations with tax-free salaries have obvious attractions. Some overseas jobs will even cover your relocation costs.

How to work abroad

Find a job

Whether your destination choice is because that country is actively seeking professionals in your sector, or you simply have your heart set on living in a certain place, your first step is to find a job.

Start with online research. Some countries may be actively recruiting in sectors such as healthcare, engineering and construction, while others may be focusing on education, IT or manufacturing. Could you help to plug a gap in an overseas workforce?

There are plenty of online recruitment websites with which you can register, who will notify you when jobs in your chosen sector become available. Is your current company an international? It may well have openings in foreign offices, so keep an eye out for internal vacancies, or drop an email to the HR managers in those offices.

Do plenty of research

Issues to consider and address include:

  • Visa requirements
  • Renting a property
  • Healthcare
  • Setting up a bank account
  • Taxation
  • Cost of living
  • Cultural and language differences

Kirsten spent two years working in Dallas, Texas as a pediatric dentist:

Getting a bank account was hard – I initially didn’t have an address, social security number or credit rating. These things made finding an apartment difficult, too. Healthcare was tricky as I had only a minimum insurance policy. I avoided unnecessary visits to the doctor, and my insurance didn’t cover prescriptions – they would have cost hundreds of dollars.

I couldn’t get a mobile phone contract – just pre-pay – plus it took ages to connect the TV and electricity, as I had no credit rating in the US. You just don’t consider how stressful and time-consuming it can be to sort out all these things.

Volunteer work abroad

The advantages of volunteering include:

  • Applying your skills to a good cause, in an unusual setting.
  • Learning a new language.
  • Experiencing a different way of life and engaging in cross-cultural communication.

How to avoid volunteering pitfalls

  • Save plenty of money before you go.
  • Be realistic. Volunteering is a noble move, but you are not going to change the world single-handedly.
  • Be prepared to work hard. Not being paid after a day of gruelling work is tough.
  • Be tolerant and flexible. You may have to sleep, eat and work every day with the same group of people, so don’t expect a huge amount of personal space.
  • Be prepared for a lack of home comforts. You are living within the community and must adapt to and respect their way of life.

How to find volunteering work

Start with online research on volunteering opportunities based on your skills set – the websites of well-known charities are a good starting point. There are usually no pre-requisites for volunteering work, as most programs supply training, and many also provide meals and accommodation.

While aimed at graduates, the Prospects page has an excellent country-by-country breakdown covering job markets, visa requirements, language requirements, volunteering opportunities and job vacancies.

Further information

For more information, refer to the Worksmart website.