Posted in Living in Spain

Five key ingredients for a successful job search 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

Whatever your reasons for moving abroad there are a few key factors to consider if your job search is to be successful.

Career assessment

Whether you’re at the very beginning of your working life or have a few years’ experience under your belt you need to start by thinking about the skills you have and the things you enjoy doing. This will give you an idea of what you can offer employers and also 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

Do a search of all the recruitment agencies in your chosen area and send them a copy of your CV. 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.


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.

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. You can start it privately and make the details public once you are happy that it showcases your strengths to their best advantage.

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.

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.

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 dressing the part will help you feel more confident).

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.

Have you made the move abroad? I’d love to hear your comments about how you handled your job search.

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2 thoughts on “Five key ingredients for a successful job search overseas

  1. 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!

    1. Thanks Mia

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. Sometimes the visa research can be so time-consuming and complicated but it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry!

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