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Living in Spain

Finding a job overseas

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When you’re suffering through a British winter and summer seems a long time away, many people’s thoughts turn to a move overseas.

If you’re toying with the idea of moving abroad for your career there are a few things to think about over and above the normal considerations you’d have when looking for a new job.

  • For starters, are you actually entitled to work in your country of choice? Some countries are easier to work in than others so do your research into working visas carefully. Although I live in Spain I work in Gibraltar and am one of the estimated 15,000 workers who crosses the border daily. Anyone with an EU passport or who resides in an EEA member country can work in Gibraltar without the need for a work permit.
  • Are you planning to carry on in your current profession or are you hoping to do something totally different? If it’s the former and you work for an international company, your current employer may have vacancies in their overseas office. If so, lucky you!  If it’s the latter, will you have to take any courses to make the job search easier? Teaching English as a Foreign Language is always a popular option but the number of courses on offer can be bewildering and you don’t want to spend your money on a course that isn’t recognised internationally. CELTA is universally acknowledged as being one of the (if not the) best courses – definitely money well spent.
  • Will you need another language? For some jobs you might get away with a smattering of another language remembered from your schooldays but for others, you may need to be fluent. I work for an English-speaking company but a lot of the staff are Spanish and speak little, or no, English so at times it can be difficult. However, being dropped in at the deep end is an excellent way to learn a new language although I still have a long way to go and a lot to learn.

Whatever your reasons for moving abroad there are a few key factors to consider if your job search is to be successful. Let’s say you’re not transferring with your current employer but are looking for something new. Where do you start?

Finding a job overseas

Career assessment

In my book ‘You’re Hired! How to find a job you love – and keep it’ I start with the importance of looking at what skills you already have and trying to find a way of combining them with work that you actually enjoy doing. The book has several though-provoking questions to help you understand your ‘work self’ better.

Whether you’re at the very beginning of your working life or have a few years’ experience under your belt you need to consider what you can already do as well as what you enjoy doing. This will give you an idea of what you can offer employers as well as what sort of work you should be considering. Think as well about the way you like to work – are you happy to be left to your own devices or do you need to be part of a team? Thinking about these questions will determine the type of work you’d be best suited to.

A strong CV

Once you have an idea of what you want to do you need to get your CV ready, making sure that it’s tailored to suit the type of role you’re going for.

Employers have limited time when it comes to reviewing CVs so, to make sure your CV doesn’t end up in the bin, you need to be aware of what you should, and shouldn’t, do when writing your CV.

In a nutshell, do:

  • think about the presentation
  • check your spelling and grammar
  • keep it concise
  • tailor your CV for each role you apply for
  • use the job specification/job description for the role you’re applying for

But don’t:

  • handwrite your CV
  • tell lies (even little white ones)
  • leave gaps in your work history

The format of CVs tends to follow similar guidelines around the globe but, one thing I’ve noticed, is that in Europe it’s common to include a photo – something we don’t do in the UK.

There’s a template CV in my book which can be easily adapted to most jobs and, once your CV is exactly as you’d like it, do a search of all the recruitment agencies in your chosen area and send them a copy. Don’t forget to look on international job boards too. If there’s a particular company you’d like to work for make sure you check the careers section of their website – speculative applications can often have a positive outcome so don’t be afraid to directly approach companies that you’d like to work for. 

Networking

Make sure that you tell everyone you know that you’re looking for a new opportunity – you never know who your family and friends have in their network. The more people who know about your job search the better. When I first said that we were moving to Spain several people, including an ex-manager, mentioned that they had contacts in particular companies. While these didn’t amount to a job, it did mean that I had an idea of what type of work was available.

If you’ve already taken the plunge and moved before starting your job search your network is likely to be considerably smaller than the one you had at home but don’t worry – social media is a fantastic networking tool.

For professionals looking for work you can’t beat LinkedIn, so build a profile that highlights all your skills and experience.

Never underestimate the power of Facebook – you’ll no doubt find numerous job search groups in your chosen area. Join as many as you can and post your details on them – employers and recruitment agencies regularly use these groups. In Gibraltar there are at least half a dozen job search groups on Facebook, some with tens of thousands of members, so it’s worth taking a look.

Interview skills

Interviews normally follow a tried and tested format with similar questions cropping up regularly so do a bit of research into the most popular interview questions and practice the answers to them. My book has a chapter on the most popular questions and how to answer them.

If you’ve yet to move you’ll most likely have a telephone or Skype interview – treat this exactly as you would any other type of interview – be prepared, act professionally and dress appropriately (it might be tempting to do the interview in your pyjamas but it’s not recommended!!).

Follow up

Interview over you might choose to send a brief thank you letter (or e-mail). It’s not compulsory but can keep you at the forefront of the interviewer’s mind particularly if you’ve not yet made the move and have simply been putting out feelers.

Have you made the move abroad? I’d love to hear your comments about how you handled your job search. If it’s something that you’re planning and you need any advice then feel free to get in touch.

 

2 replies on “Finding a job overseas”

Great tips! I’m currently looking into apply for remote work. I really liked the questions you posed early on in this post—it is so, so important to research what is possible with your current visa status!

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