According to one survey, 41% of U.S. millennials want to live in another country. For most of them, that will mean finding a job abroad.
But here’s the problem. Finding any job, much less a job abroad, isn’t easy. A job hunt close to home can take months. And an international job hunt can last even longer.
So if you’re one of those millennials (or even a member of another generation) with wanderlust, how can you increase your chances of finding a job that will give you an international experience? Based on our work with countless expats, we’ve got some ideas.
Build the Skills to Work Abroad
Working abroad takes some specific skills and aptitudes. And no matter what’s going on in your career right now, you can start cultivating them so that you will be better prepared for international opportunities
Of course — and you knew we were going to say this as a language training company — getting a job abroad will be easier if you are fluent in the language of the country where you want to work.
So does that mean you have to go back to college and get a degree in that language? Absolutely not. Ironically, if you want to get fluent in a language, it’s probably best to steer clear of higher education and stick to REAL conversation. It’s OK to explore the language in a more casual way. This is an ideal situation for using language apps. An app is a low-risk way to get to know a new language. If your self-study goes well, you can take things to the next level and sign up for one-on-one language lessons. This is the kind of language training that will really prepare you for working in another country. But you should probably wait to invest in it until you’re very serious about your goal.
Language skills aren’t the only factor in getting a job abroad, though. Employers will be looking for evidence that you possess the personal qualities that will help you succeed on an international assignment. You’ll find numerous lists online describing the qualities of successful expats. Here are a few common themes:
· Personal drive.
· The ability to make cross-cultural connections.
Examples of Global Experience
Imagine yourself in an interview for an overseas job. What will you say to demonstrate that you are flexible? What examples will you give of how you’ve built relationships across cultures? If you’re not sure what your answers would be to questions like those, start looking for experiences that will help you acquire the qualities you need to succeed as an expat.
And we highly suggest getting global experience, even if it means signing up for Internations meetings. These are events where expats go to meet others. You will become more culturally confident and malleable if you have a few years of international experience under your belt (without even leaving the country!).
Research Global Employers
The next step to finding job opportunities abroad is identifying some employers that could potentially give you that job.
If the company where you currently work has international offices, then you’ve already completed this step. But if it doesn’t, or if you don’t see yourself building a future there, then it’s time to research other employers who could help you fulfill your dream of working abroad.
What employers in your area have international operations? Would you consider moving to another city to work for a company that intrigues you? To answer those questions, check out different rankings of global companies, like this one from Fortune. We also have an always-growing number of city pages on our website that include information about top employers in different U.S regions.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t immediately find international postings you can apply for at your target companies. Apply for other openings and ask about the potential for overseas placements during your interviews.
Build an Effective Network
To find employers that offer international jobs, and to stand out when you apply for these jobs, it helps to have a great network. Make it a habit to regularly grow and nurture your network. Pay special attention to building relationships with people who have ties to the companies where you want to work or the countries where you want to live.
Now this doesn’t mean cold emailing an executive at one of your target companies and asking if they can help you land a job there. And it doesn’t mean inviting every person in Spain you can find on LinkedIn to connect. That’s just annoying!
So what kind of networking is effective when your goal is getting a job abroad?
· Catch up with past colleagues and classmates (even peruse alumni resources from your university), whether in person or online. Maybe they’re in a position now where they can connect you with international opportunities.
· Tell people about your goals (especially on social media and definitely more than just 1 time). You never know who will know someone else who can help you get a job abroad. It could be your neighbor, someone from your workout group or your brother-in-law’s best friend. (Do this judiciously. For example, this probably isn’t a conversation to have with your current boss.)
· Attend events that can help you meet former expats, natives of the country where you want to work or other people who want to move there. We always recommend meetup.com or internations.org as a great way to connect with new people.
Is Being a Digital Nomad Right for You?
To move to another country, you no longer have to find an employer who will hire you or send you on assignment there. Because many professionals can now do their jobs anywhere there’s an internet connection, more and more people are becoming digital nomads. If you’re on Instagram, you’ve probably seen at least a post or two from someone whose “office” is a cozy cabin or who’s on a conference call at the beach.
Being a digital nomad is a great option for some people. But it’s not as easy as it looks on the ‘gram. Whether this path is viable for you depends a lot on the work you do. Will your current employer let you work entirely remotely, or can you find another employer that will? If not, would you consider working freelance or starting your own business so that you can work wherever you like?
You should also think carefully about whether becoming a digital nomad suits your personality. If a company were sending you abroad, you would likely have the support of relocation specialists. But, as a digital nomad, you’ll be taking care of all the logistics of an international move on your own. Are you game for that? How about dealing with rental units that don’t match their descriptions, or getting sick far from home?
These situations might be deal-breakers for you. Or they might seem like a small price to pay for living the life you want to live as a digital nomad. It’s totally your call. Just do as much fact-finding as you can first, both through online research and through talking to current and former digital nomads.
Whatever your job is, and wherever you want to move, we hope these tips will help you find a job abroad. There’s really no adventure like it. And there are more opportunities than ever out there for you to seize. Got more questions about working internationally? Ready to get serious about studying the language of the country where you want to move? Fluency Corp has worked with countless professionals just like you, helping them succeed in new jobs and in new countries. Contact us at [email protected] or (800) 401-3159.