One quality often characterizes people who work abroad: Determination, in this case, to make it to another country. If you're going to move to France, Thailand or some other far-off land, this quality is often a prerequisite. Searching for work in the US alone can be a challenge, and doing so abroad means you're dealing with the additional hurdles of a foreign language and unfamiliar customs.
But determination is not enough. Typically, those who succeed in finding work abroad have a strategy to make it happen. How do you turn your determination into results? Here are five strategies for finding international jobs.
This isn't the strategy for everyone, given the risks, but it's one time-tested, adventurous way to jump-start an international career. The idea is simple: Choose your country, move there and hope for the best.
Actually, those who subscribe to the "just do it" mentality often incorporate an extensive amount of planning into the process. They research the job market in a particular region, make contacts and assess how long they'll be able to make it on their allocated funds. If all goes well, they reason, they'll find a job. If not, they've had an adventurous experience.
Move Up the Ladder
A more conservative approach is to find a company known for sending its employees abroad. There's no guarantee you'll be among those chosen for an international stint, but setting this as a goal and letting your managers know of your interest is one way to work an overseas job into your long-term career plans. If your employer knows you're seeking an international assignment, you'll be able to use periodic reviews as a way to discuss the possibility of achieving this goal. Companies need to match the right people for overseas assignments, but they also want those with a strong desire to work abroad.
Try to make contacts in other countries. To get started, join online discussion groups related to your profession. Whether you're a Java coder or marketing guru, you will be able to find email lists and other forums devoted to your profession, often with members from other countries. Get to know them, seek advice and offer some to learn about opportunities in other countries. Online forums unrelated to work may be valuable meeting spots, too, but those connected with a specific field or area of expertise are often best for making the sort of contacts helpful in finding international work.
Go Back to School
You may think you've had enough of education, but learning opportunities abound in other countries, from immersion language courses to archaeology programs connected with ongoing digs. Once you're in a country, you'll be in a much better position to make the local connections needed to find paid work. Of course, you should be aware of the rules for work permits. Taking a full-time job may be prohibited under the terms of a student visa.
Start a Business or Freelance
Again, this isn't for everyone, but it is one way to make it to another country. Gain experience abroad, learn the language and start making local contacts. Those able to freelance from another country, such as technical writers or graphic artists, may be able to support themselves on US work as they establish themselves elsewhere. Starting a business abroad, whether it's a bed-and-breakfast in Mexico or a tour operation in Russia, is another route. Ambitious, yes, but it can be done.
Learn more about international careers.