Are you crazy for a change of scenery at work? Would you like to boost your CV, or are you “just” looking for a career-related challenge? So, what about searching for a new position abroad?
But before you start your international job search, consider the following questions to determine your goals and priorities:
– Do you already have a destination in mind? Or are you open to move anywhere?
– How long do you plan on staying in your new “home city?” Will this move be temporary, long-term, or open-ended?
– Will you bring anyone with you?
– What’s your timeline for moving? Could you drop everything at a moment’s notice? Or do you need three to six months to get your affairs in order?
– Will you be staying in your current industry and function? Do you want a step up with more prestige? Or fewer responsibilities?
Once you’ve got a clear idea of what you’re looking to get out of a global move, you can begin your international job search the right way.
1) Check within Your Company
Generally speaking, the term “expatriate” refers to people living outside of their country, but it’s usually understood that these individuals move for their career. First, try speaking to your current supervisor and colleagues about opportunities to move abroad, within the company.
You might be surprised at what options are available. More and more organizations are opening satellite offices in cities all over the world, and if your own firm doesn’t have a location in your hopeful destination, perhaps there’s a sister company that does.
As long as you’re satisfied with your current employer, this option provides the most stability. If your company is also happy with your performance, they’ll most likely be sad to see you leave, but they could help you to navigate some tricky situations, like a working visa or relocation costs.
Furthermore, if you decide that you’d only like to travel abroad for a short time, perhaps you can sort out an arrangement – for example, your office in Madrid could “loan you” to the London office for six months, instead of doing a permanent transfer.
2) Activate Your Contact Network
Germans have a phrase for networking through personal connection: “Vitamin B,” where B stands for “Beziehungen”, or relationships. Time for you to tap into your own personal source of Vitamin B!
As expats tend to attract like-minded friends, chances are that someone within your own network, professional or personal, has a valuable connection that might help you land your next great career opportunity in an exotic new locale. And what’s more, referral hiring has been the favored hiring method of most HR managers worldwide for years now.
Reach out to colleagues and friends with international experience, and you might be surprised what comes out of it! Perhaps your colleague in Accounting used to work for your dream company in Milan before moving to New York. Or maybe an old university friend runs the Marketing department for a small start-up in Marrakesh.
Social and professional networking sites are a great way for you to advertise your desire to move abroad, so don’t be shy when it comes to talking to people. InterNations, for instance, offers various groups dedicated to professional networking, entrepreneurs and small business owners, as well as start-up founders. Just have a look at the Group Section to see if there’s one in your community too!
Even if an acquaintance works in a different industry or function, they may have a neighbor, a friend, or a partner in that city who could help you. Furthermore, these contacts could give you valuable insight about the working conditions in a new country, or recommend you to other helpful acquaintances.
3) Find a Headhunter
Headhunters used to be thought of as a secretive group of mysterious professionals, inaccessible to the average candidate. But nowadays, executive recruiters are growing savvy, utilizing social media and online presence to locate top talent all over the world.
Julian Blücher is a Munich-based “brainhunter,” (his term of choice), and the CEO of his own international firm, Talent Tree GmbH. Blücher advises candidates to simply begin searching for career opportunities through their browser. But for a more targeted and precise search, it’s a great idea to get in touch with a headhunter. While not every headhunter is open to cold calls, some modern firms like Blücher’s might embrace an introduction from a qualified candidate.
Says Blücher, “A headhunter can sometimes work magic and open doors — especially on a high-level when job ads are not published (for whatever reason).”
Ideally, you would have a connection or an invitation who could introduce you to a headhunter in your specific industry. Take advantage of your contact network to see who knows who. But if that’s not an option, do some research and identify some international headhunters working in your field.
Experteer, a premium career service for highly qualified senior level candidates, offers a headhunter directory where you can search for executive recruiters specializing in different fields. For a good start, try looking here for specialists in your industry.
Remember that regardless of the outcome with any headhunter or recruitment specialist, these professionals usually have a broad network of connections. It is imperative to always maintain a respectful relationship with headhunters — should your name come up for a future position, they’ll be much more likely to recommend you if all interactions were positive.
One more tip: make sure to keep all of your professional social media profiles up to date! You never know when a recruiter may stumble across your profile, and it’s in your best interest to sell yourself as best you possibly can!
There are plenty of ways to find your next great position abroad, but networking is your secret weapon. Crucial aspects of job satisfaction like cultural fit and communication styles should not be overlooked, so if you have a contact with an insider’s perspective on a new career lead, take advantage of this chance to see if this opportunity is really right for you.
And before you commit to any new position, ask for Skype interviews or even plan a trip to visit the company in person. Working and living in a new foreign environment is one of the most rewarding experiences imaginable, but make sure to do your research first!
Maggie Quigley grew up dreaming of living and working abroad. Since 2013, she has called Munich her home. With a passion for travel, journalism, and Tina Fey, she’s blogged about everything from love and relationships to Roman cuisine. Maggie currently specializes in writing career advice for senior executives, in her role as the Content and Communications Manager for Experteer, Europe’s premiere career and recruiting service for senior talent.
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