Working abroad can be a fun and life-changing experience. If you’ve decided to take the leap, there are a couple of things you need to consider. This guide will help you to make three vital decisions before you start sending off your applications.
1. Which job should I pursue?
Deciding on the kind of job role you would like to do is really important - this will have a big impact on where you can work. If you have an interest in a specific career, you might choose to pursue work related to that industry to get some experience and to help you to figure out whether that career’s the right choice for you. When you return home, you can continue to pursue that career further (through a qualification or further employment). Plus, as a result of your work abroad, you’re already one step ahead of your competition!
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 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, 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; the skills you build here will always be transferable to your career of choice in the future. 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 should I choose?
Sunny skies and plenty of greenery, or the bustle of a busy city? The type of job you’re after will probably affect which country you end up going to. For example, if you want to work in banking, try going for a large city with a strong reputation in that sector, like Frankfurt, New York or London. 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 as much as possible. Do your research and play it safe. If you’re from the UK, the government website linked below 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 tend to be generous, 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, the incredible scenery, and the Terracotta Warriors, you won’t get bored in China.
- The USA: Are you taken in by city life or sand beaches? The 50 states of the USA have something to keep everyone happy, with a lot of opportunity to dig deep into different cultures. Boasting some of the most advanced media and technology companies in the world, the USA is a great destination for anyone interested in innovation.
3. Your salary expectations
Be clear on the minimum wage you’ll accept and know that this can vary from country to country. 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 expected 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). You can check out our article on budgeting here to make a start.
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. That way, you can be sure you are comfortable with all the terms and conditions ahead of time.
Some organisations and universities offer travel bursaries and funding for students working abroad. Be sure to check out what is available online, as you may be able to find funding to cover, or part of your living expenses.
4. Visa and travel information
It’s really important to find out information around your travel, your visa, and your stay prior to applying for jobs abroad. This can help prevent getting you into any unwanted or unforeseen trouble with the authorities. For many countries, you will be required to apply for and obtain a work visa or permit before entering the country. Be sure to check out the specific requirements of your chosen country online.
There are a lot of organisations that you can pay to help you with sorting out all your information beforehand. This often includes flights, orientation, visas, and job placements, which can be really handy. However, be aware that you’ll need to pay, and this can sometimes be pretty expensive.
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