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Essential tips for working abroad

Living and working abroad is a romantic fantasy the majority of people think is beyond them. Wrong! Anybody with the right frame of mind and personality can do it – you just need to look for the right opportunities that suit your skills, knowledge, interests, circumstances or qualifications. There are many different reasons why you might want to work overseas and if you have the desire there is literally a world of opportunity.

Before you pack your bags and jet off to some far-flung land give serious thought to where you want to go, what type of work you want and your motivations for working abroad. Then do your research and make sure the job opportunities are possible in your destination of choice. The jobs you can consider are varied and may be something as simple as working in a hostel whilst exploring the globe, to get relevant experience during your University gap year or because you want to live and work in another country for personal reasons.

One of the most crucial considerations for working abroad is whether you need a visa and a work permit. Securing a travel visa should not present a problem for most people, but getting a work permit can be a little more difficult if you do not meet the standard criteria. In many cases, companies won´t offer you work unless you have a work permit.

Types of job opportunities abroad

To qualify for a work permit in a foreign country you must fulfill certain criteria, but even then it can take up to three months before you are given the all-clear so plan well in advance. If you meet any of the following conditions you shouldn´t experience any difficulty securing a work visa:

  • Nationality – if you have a spouse or parent or grandparent from the country you want to work you will qualify for a work permit on the grounds of nationality. Likewise, if you are a member of an EU country you can work anywhere in the EU
  • Students – are usually permitted to work in unskilled low-paid jobs overseas on a part-time basis. The same is true for working holiday visas, but it depends on the regulations of your destination country
  • Exchange schemes – some countries have exchange schemes which allow applicants to work in either low-skilled jobs or highly skilled jobs where there is a shortage of skill in the country
  • Multi-national companies – if you are fortunate enough to be offered a position overseas by the multi-national company you work for your firm should be able to secure a work permit for you
  • Organized job abroad – If you have some savings you can pay a company to arrange work for you overseas. The type of jobs involve often involves, community and charity work for which you may not get paid, research work if you have the right skills or teaching a language if there is a demand for it.
  • Freelancing – If you have a specialist skill you can use as a freelancer you can live and work in a foreign country without any bureaucratic problems.

What else do I need to know?

Work visas are subject to time limits so make sure you look for this during your research. You should also find out beforehand what currency you will be paid in. The likelihood is you will be paid in local currency, but if you are freelancing you may be paid in your national currency depending on your job.

You should also research business etiquette as international cultures conduct business in different ways. If you are not culturally aware you could find yourself in a situation that is an offence to some people and embarrassing for you. It may even be considered that you lack manners or have a bad attitude and your ignorance could harm your future career prospects

It will serve you well therefore to learn even the tiniest of details such as accepting a business card in both hands in the Far East and only with your right hand in Arab countries – the left hand is reserved for “personal hygiene” thus is considered highly disrespectful.

Where to find information?

There are a large number of sources of information about job opportunities abroad. In Infotrade Directory of International Jobs you can access directly to a selected job search websites very useful for all those people who are looking for a job abroad. Among them: Skillpages (an online platform for over 12 million professionals classified by sectors and countries); Careerbuilder (international job search by country and profession), or EURES (job portal to work in the Union European).

Are you cut out for working abroad?

Although living and working in another country may appear to be a romantic idea, more often than not it is more difficult than finding work in your own country. Before you decide to move abroad you much consider whether you will be able to cope with a different lifestyle and culture away from your family and friends.

There are also financial implications to consider. Depending on your country of origin, you may be working in a job that pays a lower salary than you might expect and therefore you may find yourself residing in an apartment that does not meet your standards of living. You will also have to consider upfront costs such a travel and insurance together with initial living arrangements which could be quite costly.

If you are a student, but do not have sufficient funds to pay for the opportunity to work abroad you can apply for a scholarship or approach a bursary that may be able to part-finance your work experience. Take note that you should do this at least six months before you intend to travel.

Living and working abroad is a warm and fulfilling experience that stays in the memory for a long time to come and teaches you a lot about life both professionally and personally. However, for you to benefit from the experience you must make sure you are qualified to find the work you want and are financially and mentally prepared.

Finally, those who goes abroad with a job that they have got in their own country, should know the Expatriate Contract of Employment  used by multinationals to offer and negotiate different benefits to managers and executives who move to work in another country.


This article has been written by Regus a multinational company with offices in 100 countries, including Spain. The aim is to facilitate mobility and reduce fixed costs of both small businesses and large corporations.