The possibility to learn about new surrounding, new cultures contributing with your expertise, maybe even boost your earnings potential can boost your confidence and do wonders for your own system. Not every job offered abroad is for the high flyer. If you are hard working and willing to adapt, you are in with a realistic chance. Lets face it, you got yourself a reasonably good education for which you still pay through the loans you took as a student So, you better get the best use out of your investment.
While it is true that many jobs abroad will require knowledge of local languages, this does not apply for every job and in every area. Think of all the geographical area once colonized by the British. They are all English speaking and can be an excellent source for jobs. It is true that many of these countries have restrictions about who can get a work permit, and who can't, but there are possibilities where they need your expertise. Let's look at a few points that will help you redirect your job search strategies:
- Select target countries and activities where the primary business language is English. As a native speaker you will have an advantage. This might include former British possessions, but should not be limited to those. There are jobs to be found in Paris, Geneva, Madrid or Sao Paulo, where knowledge of French, Spanish or Portuguese in the performance of the job offered is of peripheral importance. Think, for instance, of their local export industry. They need native speakers to make the advertising sound and look right, when they export to the USA or Canada. In other areas they need English native speakers to write user manuals, instructions or training manuals for their export products. If it is a technical product English speaking engineers are required to help in their after sales service and manage their technical help desk. In India for instance, they need language instructors and accent trainers, to teach the appropriate use of the language, including technical terminology to people who will later man the call centers. Whether that is for credit cards, airline bookings, searching for lost luggage, or software help is really immaterial. They all need language or accent training.
- Once you have decided which country and which business area might be of interest to you, look at their method of hiring. Are they using staffing agents, executive search, temporary agencies or can you approach potential employers directly? Remember, high level Executive Search agencies are not really interested in getting your resume. They like to keep their hiring low risk by searching and poaching amongst the currently gainfully employed in the country. Thus keep your searches at the level where you really have a chance to be listened to and at least can present yourself in an interview!
- One you have identified the country where you would like to work and the method or methods through which you would like to apply to employers, you will have to take a close look at your resume or Curriculum Vitae. Most American resumes read like a big sales document for the applicant, basically saying "I am the best, and if you do not consider me, you will be sorry for the lost opportunity". In many places this is seen as unnecessary boosting about your abilities. Write your CV coherent, factual, interesting by not getting into endless repeated statements. Cover the first five years thorough with specific statements, the five years before that a little more general and the five years before that with more global statements. Be specific about where you studied, with the name of the city and University, what you studied, naming the subject, and what degree you obtained. You might want to go through several iterations in your CV writing. If you need some help, look at JobLines resume page, which might put you on the right track.
- Now you can start to select specific employers in the desired country. You could make two choices: Approach the major employers in that country, or go for the smaller less well known companies. These last ones are not that easy to find. Unless you have reliable local contacts, you will almost certainly be restricted to companies that have an Internet presence. One of the sources for the smaller employers might be the lists of the American-Country x Chamber of Commerce. Not all of these Chambers have well organized lists. Though, from most of the Chambers, you can buy the booklet with the list for around $30-$50. Another source can be local trade associations. Many of them have now websites. That will at least give you their contact address and phone numbers. You can also try their embassies here in the USA or wherever you are. Though, if you do that, you can easily end up in endless rounds of "Press seven"....."Now Press four" occupying your phone line for hours on end. Yet, another option is to find their local newspapers, though, that might only be easy if you live in places like New York or Los Angeles. Often you can also try local consulates of countries. These are usually located in major USA and Canadian cities, such as Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco etc. These consulates often have small libraries that keep up to date news papers from their home country. Another good source for companies and knowledge about the various countries are the Financial Times Country Surveys. Although, most of the Financial Times is now on a pay site, you can get the address and details here to order the country survey.
- When you have identified a possible target company, you should go back to your CV and make it specific to the company you intend to approach. The same applies to writing a good cover letter. We can not over emphasize the need of some details in your CV. Create a Personal Detail Sheet that will give details such as Date of Birth, Place of Birth, a passport size photo, Nationality (Passport holder of....) Marital Status, Children (e.g., just state 3 boys (6, 7, 8). If you need some help, you can find inspiration here on our Cover letter page!
- Never state your Passport Number or your Social Security Number. Never send original certificates to anyone. Though, in some, especially Asian and European countries it is normal to send photo copies of you university or other diploma with your CV. In some European countries you will also get a Certificate of Employment, every time you leave a job. If you have those, you should also enclose a copy (never the original) of those with your application.
- Now, read and reread your application and your CV to make sure you do not have any mistakes or typos. Also make sure that if you do not know the name of the Human Resources Manager, you address him/her with Dear Sir/Madam. If you know the name, make sure you spelt it correctly. We have a simple rule here that is followed by many HR managers: If the name is not spelt right, the application ends in the wastepaper basket!