How many people in the past year told you about their adventures abroad? How many of your friends have ever been working abroad? How many of them had good experiences?
How many times did you think that you might want to try it too?
These days, international business travel is as normal as bus journeys once were. Working with people from other, sometimes very remote, cultures is our reality. Sure, probably majority of the people in the world never even travelled by plane. But the business people and frequent travellers from developed countries make up for that 😉 People like you, and me.
There are many issues around the international travel, congestion, billions of pounds spent on maintenance of the machines and infrastructure, billions of pounds spent on fuel… But this article will not be about those issues, I will leave those discussions to other specialists.
Instead, we will look into the expat’s mind a little bit and think through whether working long-term or doing just a shorter project abroad is a good idea at all. Or… is it a good idea for you in particular, I shall say.
What can I get from working abroad?
There are many advantages of living abroad in terms of your own personal development and growth. If working and living abroad is also your choice, then that opens a completely new spectrum of opportunities that you can pursue. What’s in it for you? What are the advantages of having such international experience?
- You can practice a foreign language, be it English or the local language of the country
- You can go out of your comfort zone and try new things (although scary – yes, it is a good thing for your development!)
- You can challenge your understanding of ‘normal’
- You can widen your perspectives and get to know stories of people who come from a completely different background
- You can pursue opportunities, which are not available in your home country
- You can build up your CV and experience in an international environment, which many employers desire
- You can build new business connections, which you wouldn’t have built otherwise
All these things await you, if you decide to move abroad, even if just for a short project or assignment.
There are also some things that are not that great about living abroad long-term. But it is up to you to weigh up your options and choose what’s the best way to make it work.
How do I start looking for a job abroad?
Before starting to look for a job or project abroad, you might need to think about w h y you want to do this. Ideally, you would have at least some clarity on either the type of work you want to look for, or the type of life you want to lead abroad.
Have a think!
Is it that you want to use the opportunity of living abroad to travel around that region and explore? Is it that you want to earn more money? Is it that you are looking to settle abroad for better lifestyle and jobs? Is it because a lot of your friends did it and you feel like you’re missing out? Is it that you want to move closer to your friends? Is it that you want to learn a language? …
There are so many reasons for moving abroad! You might think you know yours, but I’d encourage you to spend those 30 minutes to just be honest with yourself and consider what is the actual main driving factor for you. If it’s your partner who you want to follow to this new location, it’s also important that you find another driver of the move than just someone else’s job – it may be quite hard for you if you are just relying on someone else’s motivation.
When you know what you want, or… roughly what you want, you can start your actual search. A great resource to start with is the Europe Language Jobs website, which is a job board with thousands of job offers abroad for multilinguals. You can sign up to their career search page and look for opportunities relevant to your experience and aspirations. The website also offers hundreds of blog articles related to applying for jobs in Europe, so definitely go and check it out.
When preparing your application, make sure to also remember about preparing your CV adequately to the country you are applying to, as well as prepare for the interviews, which might be different from what you are used to. A while back, I also wrote an article from the employer’s perspective, suggesting ways to decrease the amount of biases we have about various applications. As a candidate, it’s good to know what employers struggle with, to be prepared and one step ahead, adjusting some behaviours during the recruiting process accordingly.
Working abroad can be a good idea, but probably not for everyone. You might not need to have the professional need to work abroad or to completely change your life and move thousands of kilometres away from home. And it is absolutely fine, don’t feel pressured to do this if you feel like this is not for you. If working and living abroad is not for you though, that doesn’t mean that you stop living in a more and more open world. You will likely still meet people from different countries, different backgrounds and will need to work with them, even if based in your home country. That’s why it is extremely important to develop your cultural intelligence, keep trying to understand other cultures and be open to different perspectives on life.
I’m certainly happy with my life abroad. I feel like I’ve learnt a lot and keep being challenged by various aspects of the English culture, and working in an international environment more broadly.
So what do you say – are you open to working abroad? Where would you like your next project abroad to be based?