12 steps to finding a job abroad

12 steps to finding a job abroad

Many of my international clients already live in and are job-hunting in the Netherlands. However, I increasingly come across people who are trying to get a job in a different country to where they currently live.

I have worked with a German lady in Zurich looking for a job in Amsterdam, for example, and an Italian expat based in The Hague wanting to relocate to the Middle East.

Although finding a job abroad is more difficult than finding one where you already live, it is definitely possible and becomes more and more common in our globally-connected economy.

Below you will find a list of 12 ways that will increase your chances of getting hired abroad.

1. Be clear on what you are looking for

It all starts with having clarity on what you are looking for. Why is it important? Being clear to yourself on what you want will help you enormously on staying focused.

Looking for a job abroad is already difficult enough and you can easily be overwhelmed with the sea of opportunities. By staying focused you drastically increase your chances of success.

Secondly, it will be easier to communicate to others about what you are looking for. It will therefore be much easier for people to help you once they know what kind of job, or what kind of a company, you are looking for.

Start by making a list of the following:
 Countries you want to move to
 Jobs that you want to pursue
 Industries you are interested in

2. Define your "Unique Selling Points" - your talents, skills & experience

Once you are clear about what kind of job you are looking for and where you want to go, you need to think why the company would want to take a chance and hire you and not a local person.

What do you have to offer that makes you an irresistible candidate? Make a list of your top talents, skills, knowledge and experience.

3. Research the internet thoroughly

Although I generally advise my clients not to spend too much time in front of a computer when looking for a job, it is different when looking for a job abroad.

You need to spend enough time on the internet to find out if there are any jobs out there that fit your profile. Who can help you? Where to find help?

Below, I go into more detail about what steps you need to take on the internet to make your international job search more effective.

4. Research your destination country

First thing you need to research is the country you are considering moving to. You need to know if this is the country you not only want to work in, but also live in.

Read about relocation procedures, customs, culture and politics. Definitely contact people who have moved from abroad to this country to check their opinion, learn from their mistakes or listen to their advice.

5. Research the job market in your selected country

Although I believe nothing is impossible, it does make sense to check if the job you are looking for is on the market in your selected country.

Make sure to find out the practices of the local labor market such as the use of CVs, cover letters, main jobs boards, and recruiting agents.

6. Prepare a list of your 20 dream employers

Are you currently employed and your company has a branch in your country of choice? First consider possibilities of moving abroad through your current employer.

Not an option? Make a list of the top 20 dream companies you would like to work for. Research them thoroughly on the internet and investigate your network for people who are working there. The more focused your search is, the better!

7. Reach out to your own network and ask for help

Let everyone in your network know that you are looking for a job abroad and ask for help. They might know people who already moved there or who are working in the companies in your countries of interest.

This will definitely help you to cut time job searching and to get connected to the right people fast.

8. Connect with people outside of your network

Irrespective of your own network, start connecting with relevant people you do not know yet. The best way to do that is through LinkedIn.

Look for experts (career coaches, relocation consultants), international recruiters, hiring managers and other expats who moved abroad. An easy way to look for expats is by using LinkedIn groups.

LinkedIn is a great way to get connected. In order to create a good LinkedIn profile check out my other article on the correct way to use LinkedIn.

9. Work on your mindset

As already mentioned, looking for a job abroad is not easy. In order to be successful you need to stay positive and focused. It will often happen that things will not work out as planned and you will get frustrated.

Remember why you started this process in the first place and the advantages and rewards. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people who can cheer you up. Invent a positive mantra for your job search and make sure you read it to yourself daily.

10. Set clear goals

Nothing helps you to stay focused better than clearly set goals. Decide the date by which you want to move abroad, in best- and worst-case scenarios.

Make a plan of when you want to accomplish certain steps and stick to it.

11. Work on your language skills

Although I know many people who found a job abroad only knowing English, it helps enormously to already have a basic foundation in a given language.

In the Netherlands there are many jobs that are specifically addressed to people who know a couple of languages. But even if your job will have nothing to do with languages, it will demonstrate your proactive attitude. Often attitude is something that will set you apart from other candidates.

12. Consider visiting your country of choice

Depending on your finances, decide to visit the country you are interested in. If you do so, make sure to plan a couple of meetings with international recruiters, experts and definitely visit some local networking events for expats and internationals.

People will be more willing to help if they see your face and know you directly. If it is not possible to visit the country, consider scheduling Skype calls with people who can help.

I keep my fingers crossed for your successful job search abroad! Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions related to this topic.


Dorota Klop-Sowinska


Dorota Klop-Sowinska

Official Member of Forbes Coaches Council. I specialize in international career and expat coaching. I am the author of the book Career Jump! How to Successfully Change Your Professional Path...

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