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Finding employment opportunities in a foreign country requires a slightly different approach than seeking a job domestically. It can be a lengthy process, but the following practices can ensure that an individual's international career search is time well spent.
Professional networking websites can be used as tools to help individuals gain recognition within the global hiring community.
Job seekers can use a professional networking website like LinkedIn to obtain third-party validation and recommendations. LinkedIn recommendations are preferable because they allow prospective employers to see exactly whom is providing the recommendation. In addition, they are evergreen and will be around unless recommenders revoke them, which is very rare, says Kim Mohiuddin, chief career storyteller and résumé writer at Movin' On Up Resumes in Chicago.
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Other professional networking opportunities may include joining a relevant professional association and writing articles for the organization's publications. A simple Google search that includes the industry name, followed by the word 'associations,' and then the target country is the most effective tool for foreign job seekers to find associations, Mohiuddin says.
LinkedIn group discussion boards are another professional networking tool that can increase visibility and industry expertise, which raises the job seeker's marketability in the global hiring arena. "If I'm out there as an industry leader and luminary - that helps my current company and helps me out, as well," Mohiuddin says. "The most important thing is that there be a good fit between the group and your area of expertise - whether it is your field or your industry. Group statistics are available on the LinkedIn page. You'll want to note how many members a group has and how many active discussions they have. The larger and more active the group, the more likely you'll be to get some traction in terms of networking."
Conducting thorough research on target countries is essential to a successful foreign job search. Questions such as, "What is my role called in the other country?" may sound simple and unnecessary, but it's important to remember that job titles at a foreign company can vary. "A common example is that a person who is a lawyer in the U.S. might be referred to as a barrister or a solicitor in the U.K.," Mohiuddin says. "This can also happen with titles. Often a Canadian 'director' is what a U.S. company would consider a 'vice president.'"
Several online resources can help a job seeker learn more about a foreign company and employment opportunities. ZoomInfo provides current information ranging from company addresses to employee titles and their contact information. Cogmap features organizational charts for various companies, which allows a job seeker to understand the target company's structure, who his or her potential colleagues and bosses would be, and whom to contact during the job hunt.
Spending time in the target country is not only a way for a job seeker to determine whether he or she can visualize living overseas, but it can also establish work contacts in the area.
Planning who to meet in advance by contacting members of alumni associations or local chapters of professional associations increases the effectiveness of professional networking, says Roy Cohen, a career coach based in New York and author of The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide. In addition, it's prudent to learn the culture and business etiquette of the target country to avoid offending anyone, he says.
When developing connections, "focus on quality rather than quantity," Mohiuddin says. "There is no right number of people to meet." In terms of what type of meeting to have, use time as the deciding factor. For example, if a job seeker has a busy schedule, making connections over dinner may not be wise, especially in Europe, where dinner is a several-hour engagement, she says.
Instead, use the meeting to express interest in living overseas, explain the preferred role and industry, and request contacts that would be willing to grant informational interviews, she says. Before the meeting concludes, ask permission to keep in touch in order to build a relationship and potentially look to them as a regional mentor, Mohiuddin says.
During the networking trip, individuals may also seek out members of local expatriate organizations who can provide an estimate of the cost of living in a given country, and recommendations for online foreign exchange services, if individuals need to convert currencies or send a money transfer back home.
It's common for expats to spend time prior to departure sending funds to the destination country to arrange for accommodations, transport or other costs related to living overseas.
Once settled in the new country, they may need to send money overseas to arrange shipping for personal items, to pay the mortgage on a property or repatriate savings back to their home bank accounts. An online foreign exchange service allows expats to send money overseas and conduct money transfers quickly and easily, 24 hours a day, from the convenience of their laptops, tablets or mobile devices.
Accepting a foreign job isn't a decision that should be taken lightly, as it requires an individual to uproot his or her current life, and possibly that of their loved ones. But with careful planning and consideration, an international career could be just one job search away.
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