Who doesn’t like the idea of working in a country other than your own. It conjures up images of living in a foreign country, interacting with a set of people different from your own, getting a front row seat to another culture, blending in, perhaps learning a new language and of course getting a taste of international business. Conjures up images of Emily in Paris, non? While working abroad is an excellent opportunity to get all this, it also can make financial sense as usually pay scales for international jobs are higher than ones in your own, especially when one currency is a lot more valuable than your own. That’s the reason why many NRIs who have worked abroad for a while come back to India and buy their own homes and live a semi retired life. But the question is how does one get a job abroad? Given all the visa formalities and non-foreigner friendly work rules, getting a job abroad isn’t a piece of cake, but if you work towards it in a structured and consistent way, it’s not impossible either and millions of people do it. So here’s a basic list of how to get a job in a foreign country from someone who worked in a couple of countries away from my own.
1. Work for a remote startup:
Getting a remote job can be the stepping stone to getting a taste of the international work culture. Many companies like remote email marketing agency Hustler Marketing hire people from across the world which gives you a sense of working with people from all across the world and making important connections. Sometimes as the company grows and scales, it needs to open physical offices or at least have a person deployed in certain strategic locations. By working in a remote company and establishing credibility, you may be in the first line of preference to get a coveted international relocation first. If nothing else, you’d get an onsite once in a while!
2. Freelance at local gigs while traveling:
This is an offbeat idea but when traveling long term in a place, if laws allow, try to pick up odd jobs like waiting at a restaurant, working as a tour guide in your local language, doing restaurant reviews, etc. You never know how one opportunity may lead to another and you might end up converting your one time gig into a running employment by someone who finds your skills unique enough to sponsor your work visa. As an Airbnb host, I have hosted a fair share of people who have decided to work in my country while they freelance and do remote jobs, eventually in the hope of finding local work in the country. For eg. a friend of mine came from Romania to work in a local cocoa farm. (no visa required) and just after a few months of working there, she got an opportunity to lead a farm tour there for visitors from her country, and now two months later, she’s regularly hosting chocolate events and tours all over the country.
3. Work for an international company in your own country, look for a transfer:
Most times, professionals prefer working in an MNC because of the possible benefit of a transfer abroad after a few years of working. Companies with heavy back operations in India such as Microsoft, Google, Meta and TCS hire thousands of workers every year, a lot of whom get to relocate or at least go on long projects abroad. Of course this is easier said than done. To be favored for a relocation, it’s very important to be a) a good performer b) working on a project or workflow which entails significant international collaboration. If you’re working with team members from another geography, rather than your own, it’s likely that you may need to relocate in order to work more closely with them and in their time zone.
- Study abroad
Studying abroad is a time tested way to get work opportunities abroad. Most MBAs are a means to get a well-paying job abroad which also justifies the high cost of studying abroad. If one can’t afford to do graduation abroad, then one can always think of doing a masters abroad. While most masters courses in the US are 2 year long and require an investment of $50-1000K, a masters in Europe can be just a year long and could be as low as $50k. But what needs to be kept in mind is the provision of a work visa after completing your studies. Some countries are more generous with work visas than the others. For example, studying in Ireland gives you a 2 year work visa while the US doesn’t guarantee a work visa and it’s conditional upon you finding a job within a certain time frame after completing your studies there. Your probability to get a job abroad also depends on the fluency of the native language of the country and if it’s not an English speaking country, then getting a job in that country becomes slightly tricky.
5. Network with international people /clients and vendors of your current company
Getting an international job is not always easy or as straightforward as applying to one in your own country. More often than not, you need to have connections and networks with people in other countries who can help make a case for your relocation. It helps to be outgoing and proactively network with people on company trips abroad and keep a lookout for opportunities within the ecosystem of your own company. “I got the role because another company sent me to China to meet with clients and one of those clients I met offered me a job.”, says a Redditor confirming how just being at the right place at the right time can mean everything. Of course you want to stay above board and ensure that you don’t violate a non-compete clause or step on any toes or ethics when doing this.
6. Marry a foreigner
Of course, marrying a foreigner and adopting their legal nationality is one way to relocate to a country and become a citizen of the country and then after completing paperwork, work like a local in that country. Everyone knows of the much-in-demand “Green card” and the desire to meet someone from a country more developed than yours to be able to switch citizenships. But look beyond the US and UK, and you can still find there are many countries who are just as attractive and have less competition. Update your dating profile, if your resume isn’t cutting it!
Good luck with your hunt for your job abroad. And remember, if everything fails, working abroad isn’t all fun and games and comes with its own challenges and stress. Just being grateful for having a job in your own country and contributing to its development is enough.