You’ve decided to work abroad. Splendid. What now?
This guide will help you to make three vital decisions before you start sending off your applications…
1. Which job to pursue
Because this decision will have a significant impact on where you can work, figure this one out first. You essentially have two options to choose from:
Option 1: Apply for work related to a career you’re interested in
Option 2: Apply for any work
There are significant benefits to choosing Option 1 – if you pursue work related to a potential career, it’ll help you to figure out whether that career’s the right choice for you. If it is, and you return home to pursue that career further (through a qualification or further employment), you’re already one step ahead of your competition. Hurrah. However, these opportunities tend to be trickier to track down and in high demand, meaning you’ll need to be patient and persistent. It’ll help you to think outside the box if you go for this option; if you want to pursue a career in Publishing, for instance, a customer service role in a bookstore would still give you an insight.
If you have absolutely no idea which career you want to pursue, or you’re just keen to get started asap, Option 2 might be a better choice – there are plenty of employers in popular travel destinations, especially within catering and services, that are constantly on the look-out for new applicants. Think bars, restaurants, shops and even cruise ships. These also tend to be customer-facing roles where you’ll work closely with other team members, so they’re a great choice if you want to make friends and develop your language skills quickly. Don’t worry about these being a ‘waste of time’ just because they’re not directly relevant to your career, either; a bar job, for instance, will still demonstrate excellent communication skills, the ability to work well under pressure and strong time-keeping skills.
2. Which country to choose
The type of job you’re after will probably have an effect on this. If you want to work in banking, for instance, you’re best off going for a large city with a strong reputation in that sector, such as Frankfurt, New York or London. If you’re interested in international politics, Brussels would be ideal. If you want to find a job easily, somewhere with plenty of bars and tourist attractions such as the Greek islands would be better, and your ability to speak English would probably give you an advantage when it comes to helping English customers.
Another key consideration is safety. Some countries are currently experiencing war or political upheaval, and it’s best to avoid these places if possible. Other countries have a reputation for being unsafe for solo travelers. Do your research and play it safe. If you’re from the UK, this government website is a good place to start.
Some of the most popular countries for work abroad are:
- Australia. Australia is the motherland for working holidays and for good reason. It’s all about a great work life balance down under, the salaries are great, and the country has no shortage of places to discover. Hospitality and agricultural jobs are very popular, but office jobs and teaching are also easily found!
- China. If you’re looking for a different cultural experience, China is a perfect choice. It’s a hotspot for teaching and Au Pair jobs, and low living costs mean your dollars will stretch much further than at home. Between the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors, you won’t get bored in China.
- Ireland. The emerald isle is a dream come true for travelers and expats alike. Ireland offers great salaries, stunning countryside, friendly locals and is conveniently located as a hopping off point to the rest of Europe.
3. Your minimum wage
Be clear on the minimum wage you’ll accept. There are plenty of ‘travel experiences’ advertised, targeted at young people, that will expect you to work for little to no pay. Unless you’ve decided to volunteer your time freely for a good cause, you should set yourself a minimum wage for your work and stick to it. Once you know which country you’ll be working in, research the general living costs, create a budget and find out how much you’ll need to bring in each week to get by comfortably (don’t forget to allow extra for weekend activities, socialising etc). If the job doesn’t advertise the wage clearly, ask for it during the application process and make sure they offer you an employment contract before you commit.
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