How to land your international dream job

An American film maker producing a short trailer about a Tanzanian solar company. The sun sets behind Mt.Mer u-- just another day at the office.

If you want to work internationally stop and ask yourself a few questions.

The most important is, ‘Am I a flexible individual?’ Living abroad means your diet, schedule, work environment and social circle all change.

Although you may get to explore new mountains or beaches international workers need to expect a different day-to-day lifestyle. Cars will break down, power outages will alter you work day; you need to adjust and keep going.

The second question is ‘Am I independent?’ International living most often means being far away from family and friends while also encountering new obstacles. Talking to foreign police officers looking for bribes, and a flat tire in a remote village are examples that will require quick thinking and problem solving.

Once you have decided to work overseas you need to decide whether you are looking to advance your career, or are looking to simply see a new country and put food on the table.

This decision will drastically alter your job search, because location-specific individuals will need to be more open to different jobs. Choosing a country or job position will allow you to narrow your search.

For individuals under 30 years old there are young worker exchange programs depending on agreements between your country and other nations. Seasonal occupations have been the staple for world travelers for decades, but globalization has led to many international opportunities for young professionals. 

Career-minded individuals can now find work around the world and continue to grow in their profession. International job-hunting can be complicated combining the search for a new position, a new company and a new city.

The Internet has made the searching process much easier, since you can now find a position at your nearby City Hall or a biologist position in Rwanda with a few clicks. If you haven’t traveled abroad before, a two to three-week trip is a good test to see if you can adjust to the overseas environment, try to immerse yourself in the culture rather than hiding behind the windows of chartered buses going from hotel to tourist attraction to hotel.

Getting the job abroad

Start your job search by finding the international companies that operate in your field; the easiest route into international employment is by finding companies in your own country that either have overseas positions or require international travel.

Successful job applicants know how to highlight their international experience and reduce the risk for the employer. But landing a position with a foreign employer is more complex. International employers incur significant expenses when relocating a new worker, and they need to complete a lot of paperwork for work visas.

Unless you have prior international work experience in a similar country, you might not be able to adapt both professionally and socially. This risk is amplified when you visit a culture that is extremely different from your home country. For example, finding professionals to work in Sub-Saharan Africa requires not only that the individual is competent enough to handle the position but also adapt to different business practices, cultural norms, language barriers and be able to live in a third world environment. 

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