How to Prepare for and Apply to Jobs Overseas

OCONUS

The idea of working overseas is attractive for a lot of people. Before taking the plunge, consider the challenges that come with it. The difference in tax regimes, the type of visa you need, and language barriers are some of the biggest issues you will face. International tax professionals and lawyers can advise you on taxation and legal issues. If you do not have strong foreign language skills, you should start learning or brushing up on old knowledge. You will likely be competing for jobs with others who have another native language and solid English skills.

Another element to look into is differences in expected qualifications and degree classifications. In the U.S. and Canada, an individual’s degree often does not match their profession. In most other countries, individuals are employed in their area of study.

In order to try and overcome obstacles like these to find a job overseas:

Research Strategically before applying overseas.

Examine the region or target country to uncover the differences in job application practices from your home country. Are you expected to have an in-depth CV or is a resume sufficient? Is there a language you need to start learning before you start applying?

Most countries require translation and notarization of degrees in order to be considered valid. If you have a license to practice in your field in the U.S., it may not translate elsewhere, and you may have to recertify in the new country.

Often – just as in the U.S. – employers have to justify hiring foreign citizens by explaining why they cannot find a local citizen who meets their requirements. Unless you are in a specialized field where labor supply is low and demand is high, employers may not go to these lengths to hire you. Pay attention to whether an employer is willing or not to sponsor a work visa or permit. This is often explicitly stated in a job posting.

What Are My Options?

If it’s possible, one option is to transfer overseas with your company. This is the easiest option because you may receive relocation assistance. A second option is to search for postings online.

Networking is a lot of work, but it can really pay off. Search your alumni networks and online connections. Reach out to ask about connections’ overseas work experiences and to ask for guidance.

Volunteering is a great way to go overseas and it can be very rewarding. Two sites that offer opportunities include IFREVolunteers.org and CrossCulturalSolutions.org. Some even include family volunteer options.

How to Apply.

Follow your research. If the posting doesn’t state whether they expect to receive a CV or resume, reach out to the company’s HR department. If that doesn’t work, you probably won’t go wrong by using a one- to two-page resume that covers your primary skills, jobs held over the past 10 years, and accomplishments. Explain in a cover letter that you researched working in their country, including the tax implications and legal issues, and that you are well prepared to take the plunge.

Play the Part.

For interviews, be aware of time differences and make sure you are available and presentable at the right time. Be ready to explain why you want to live and work abroad, and why you are confident that you will succeed. It’s a big risk for an organization to hire someone who has not worked overseas. Illustrate examples of your flexibility and ability to work with diverse groups. Have you spent time away from home on a study abroad program or for extended travel? Let them know.

It can be much simpler to land a job overseas when you are physically in a country. However, even in those cases you must be aware of local regulations. Talk to your connections and tax and legal professionals who can advise you about the work environment in your target country. If you do, you will be well prepared for applications and interviews.

Marcelle Yeager helps people land jobs that get them to the next level of their career. Through her company Career Valet, she works with mid- to senior-level professionals on their branding strategy and job search materials to secure new roles. She co-founded a second business in 2015 called ServingTalent, where she finds jobs for talented military and Foreign Service spouses. Marcelle has spent over six years living and working abroad. She can be reached at myeager@careervalet.com.

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