Are you looking for your next role as an engineer in Europe or an accountant in Asia? Here’s how to make sure you appeal to employers overseas.
We live in an increasingly globalised world. From low-cost flights to instant communication, we’ve never been more connected to markets and people around the world.
With an ever-growing number of companies having a global footprint, the prospects for candidates looking to work in another country and culture have never been better.
But what steps can you take to sell yourself in this global marketplace? We asked two of our experts…
1. Focus on your preferred region
“Simply deciding you want to work abroad is only the start. Avoid a scattergun approach to job-hunting by targeting your efforts on one specific area or market to maximise your chances of getting a great job,” says Hywel Davies, associate director at Robert Walters Indonesia. He advises candidates to assess the strength of their industry around the world and focus not only on where they want to move but also where there are opportunities for work.
As Hywel says, certain regions will have more prospects in certain sectors. “Over the next decade, more developed Asian markets like China, Japan, and South Korea will continue to strengthen their life science, artificial intelligence, and e-commerce industries, so it would pay candidates interested in these sectors to explore these regions.”
2. Do your research
“Applying for a role internationally requires a significant amount of research and thought that wouldn’t be needed when applying within a local market, so make sure you do your homework,” warns Jane Lowney, head of infrastructure and engineering at Robert Walters Australia. Candidates should research the logistics of moving to a particular country thoroughly before applying, she adds, including visa requirements and cultural expectations.
“Don’t expect your prospective employer to know what’s required for you to work in a country, be proactive and do all the background logistical research yourself beforehand. This will mean less effort for the employer and make them less likely to preference a local candidate for the sake of ease.”
3. Get more out of social media
“Professional social media platforms can be a powerful tool in helping you connect with recruiters, hiring managers and job openings within those countries or regions you want to work,” says Hywel. He points out that it can also provide candidates with an insight into how local job markets function, giving them an idea of salary expectations, the type of language they should use during their own job search, and how the wider market is performing in that location.
“Informal social media groups can be a great way to connect with people in your preferred destination. Whether it’s a golf club or a parents meet-up group, these can help you build your network and learn about new opportunities.”
4. Make things clear
“If you’re applying for a job in a foreign country, make it clear in your CV or covering letter when you are planning to relocate and that you understand any logistical needs that come with the move,” Jane advises. As she explains, if a time-constrained hiring manager in New York comes across the CV of a candidate living in London which doesn’t indicate the candidate’s relocation schedule, they may well give preference to a local applicant.
She adds, “Telling hiring managers you intend to spend some time in your preferred destination is a great way to show your commitment to making the move and makes it easier to arrange interviews with potential employers.”
5. Contextualise your experience
“It’s best to assume that hiring managers don’t know the companies that you’ve worked for, even if they’re international firms,” says Jane. “Use your CV to give potential employers a little context to your experience, include a brief description of the companies you’ve worked for and use your knowledge of the prospective employer’s market to highlight parallels and explain how your experience adds value.”
She warns, “Avoid using localised terms and acronyms, and translate your experience into the context of your target market wherever possible. This could include using more generic terminology or converting revenues and turnovers into local currencies.”
6. Highlight your soft skills
“While technical skills are important in any role, hiring managers will focus on your soft skills such as emotional intelligence, leadership and stakeholder engagement. These are the skills that will help you stand out from the crowd,” says Hywel. He notes that a candidate’s ability to build strong working relationships both internally and externally while outside their cultural comfort zone is fundamental to building a successful career internationally.
“Another essential soft skill to showcase is your resilience. Relocating internationally creates upheaval in both your personal and professional life, so hiring managers will want to know that you will be able to cope with the demands of the move.”
7. Watch your language
“In some regions, such as the Middle East and certain Asian countries, English is the predominant business language, particularly in more internationally-focused sectors, but that isn’t always the case,” warns Hywel. For example, he explains that roles involved heavily with Chinese investment companies – whether in China or elsewhere – will likely require candidates to have strong Mandarin skills.
“However, you should always be honest about your language skills because you’ll soon be found out. Only write a CV or cover letter in a foreign language if you’re comfortable working in that language every day.”
For more advice on growing your career overseas, read our 10 top tips to starting an international career.
Reading to make your move? Start your international job search now.