This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please read my disclosure for more details(Last Updated On: March 7, 2019)
Let’s face it. Moving abroad is scary. We leave our comfort zone and enter a world of unknowns. Already we have so many things to adjust to such as a new language and culture. Finding a job while living abroad can be one of the most stressful tasks you’ll ever do. To ease your worries, this guide breaks down exactly how to find a job living abroad.
In late 2016, I quit my job as a CPA in Canada to live abroad as a student in Switzerland. I knew that I wanted to find a job for the summer holidays (June 2017). This meant that I had roughly 10 months to find a job while living abroad.
Finding a job in Switzerland is extremely difficult as a foreigner. There is so much paperwork involved with hiring a non-European Union resident that most employers will not even bother to talk to you as soon as you mention that you’re from outside of the EU. I literally had a recruiter at a job fair end the conversation with me as soon as I mentioned that I was Canadian.
I ended up finding my summer job towards the end of March 2017, exactly 3 months before my summer holidays started and 7 months after moving abroad.
How did I find a job abroad while living abroad? Was I just lucky? The short answer is no.
In this article, I will share some quick and effective tips on how to successfully find a job while living abroad.
1. Research the job application norms of your destination country
Every country has its own rules and regulations when it comes to the job application process. Because of this, CV (resume) formats can look entirely different from one country to another.
In the US, Canada, and the UK, for example, there are labour and anti-discrimination laws that prohibit job candidates from including personal details such as their age, gender, nationality, marriage status, and photo on their CV. However, in other countries like Germany, France, and Switzerland, most of these details are absolutely required!
To best prepare yourself for the job application process, you should do a quick Google search on the job application process in your target country. You can google terms like “how to find a job in [country]” or “how to apply to jobs in [country].”
I did this and learned so much vital information to help with my job search.
What you don’t want to do is waste hours applying to jobs using an incorrect CV or cover letter format.
2. Update your CV (resume) and cover letter
You need to update your CV and cover letter to the correct format in your given country. You cannot take your resume from home and expect that it will work in your new country.
Google what a typical resume/CV format looks like in your destination country. For me, I just googled “Switzerland CV” and thousands of results popped up. I then tweaked my CV’s format to include all of the required fields.
My Canadian CV only includes my name, address, email address, and phone number. Putting any additional personal information is strictly prohibited. However, in Switzerland, this is a requirement. I went through my CV and added a nice headshot of myself. I also added vital details such as my date of birth, nationality, and marital status.
You may also have to translate your CV to another language. When applying to jobs in Switzerland, I had to send my cover letter and CV in French a few times.
3. Ask for a CV check
To make sure that you’re following all the local conventions, I would recommend going for a CV check. This is where a local recruiting expert takes a look at your CV and offers concrete suggestions on how to improve it to boost your chances of getting a call back.
Since I was a university student, I was able to obtain a CV check for free from my university’s career centre. You can also find a lot of free CV check services available through local recruiting offices.
If you can’t find a “professional” to do a CV check, I’d also recommend asking a friend from the target country.
3. Start applying for jobs early
The early bird catches the worm. This is especially true when it comes to the job hunt.
When I started applying to jobs, it was around January 2017. I knew I needed to apply early because the work permit approval process could take up to 2 months. I wanted to give myself and the employer enough time to prepare all the paperwork for my targeted start date.
My employer later told me that if I hadn’t submitted my application at the time that I did (5 months early), they would never have even bothered with my application! I guess you can say I was kind of lucky!
4. Know your strengths and target companies specifically
I would recommend that you play on your strengths and uniqueness to land a job in a foreign country. My strategy was to play on my “international background” and strength as a “native English speaker.” I mainly targeted jobs that asked for “native English speakers.”
I applied to jobs at international companies with American, British, Australian, or Canadian roots. Large multi-national companies also value international job applicants.
I ended up finding a job with an Australian company who recently moved their headquarters to Switzerland. They were super fascinated by my story of moving from Canada to Switzerland, and I’m pretty sure that’s part of the reason why they decided to hire me.
5. Apply using local job boards
My key to success was in using local job boards. In Switzerland, there were a few job boards such as jobup.ch and neuvoo.ch which contained thousands of postings. And from what I could tell, a lot of these “local” jobs were not posted anywhere else.
You may also get lucky by joining local Facebook groups that post job leads.
6. Attend networking events
Networking is extremely powerful. It allows you to expand your reach and mingle with like-minded individuals. It can most definitely help you land your next job.
When I first arrived in Switzerland, I attended several networking events. By speaking with local HR representatives, I was able to learn about the Swiss job market. I gained insight into what employers look for and their mentality towards hiring foreigners. I learned which companies would most likely want to hire me and focused my efforts on these few companies.
I would recommend looking up networking events in your niche. You can find these events through Facebook, or Meetup.com.
7. Work with a recruiter
I did not do this but I think there’s a lot of value in working with recruiters. I worked with several recruiters back in Canada. A lot of times, the recruiter has access to jobs that are not posted publicly.
Working with a recruiter has a lot of benefits. The recruiter knows the local conditions the best and can negotiate the best salary for you. You can also ask the recruiter just about anything about the job and company.
Depending on the country you’re in, a recruiter’s services can be free or paid.
8. Don’t give up
Last and most importantly, don’t give up on your job search. I know how hard it is to find a job, and it becomes 10x more complicated and difficult when you’re looking for a job abroad.
Trust me, I was getting burned out from applying to so many jobs and receiving so many rejections. It was super demotivating and depressing at times. I hated the fact that I was getting discriminated against for not being European.
What’s important is to stay focused and take breaks to take your mind off of the stress of finding a job. In the end, your hard work will pay off.
Living abroad is the dream but eventually you’re going to have to find a job. I found a job in Switzerland with relative ease and my article shares some key tips and strategies that I followed. Please drop me a line if you’re currently searching for a job in a foreign country. Let me know if these tips worked for you or if you have any other tips to share!
Happy job hunting!
You may also like
- Expat Living: Four Expat Challenges And How To Overcome Them
- 6 Things I Miss About Home After Living Abroad As An Expat
- I Quit My Job, Not Once But Twice
- The Complete List of Essential Things You Must Do Before You Move Abroad
- 10 Life Lessons I Learned From Doing A Master Degree Abroad
Pin for later
Recommendations for you
- Free Guide to Starting Your Own Blog! - This is a free guide I wrote to help you start your own blog!
- Free Resource Library! - I started this library for subscribers and I will be adding more to it every month. Free downloads for blogging, budgeting, moving abroad, etc.!
- Ebates - Get cash back for shopping online! Get $10 back when you spend your first $25!
- Airbnb - I love Airbnb and it's how I afford to travel so much without breaking the bank! Sign up for $40 off your first trip!