Careers advice: Succeeding in the international job market

23 April 2019

Global working is now commonplace, and thanks to technology, people are working in increasingly connected, interdependent and integrated teams and work streams around the world, irrespective of their organisational structure. Alumni Careers Manager, Caroline Egan offers strategies for securing a job overseas.

Many of our students and alumni are from overseas and many of our home and EU students plan to seek some international work experience. Our experienced team of careers managers, many of whom have had overseas work experience themselves, provide insight and support on how to succeed in the international job market.

Making an International Career Move

You may have experienced a virtual global team, undertaken extensive work-related travel, developed your ability to deal with a culturally diverse team, and seek international work experience to enhance your skills and experience ‘on the ground’. On the other hand, you may have a desire for adventure, a curiosity to see the world, or simply want to earn more money!

Whatever your motivation, senior managers in global organisations are increasingly expected to possess international experience and, whilst it is possible to get exposure by managing global projects and teams, there’s no substitute for first-hand experience.

In this article, we consider how to start your search by outlining strategies to prepare for an international move, networking overseas, and how to make the move.

Strategies to prepare for an international move:

  • An internal move within your company can be one of the easiest ways to transition. Visas are less of an issue and may attract a relocation package and partner support. If you’re interested in doing this, managing overseas virtual teams, projects or clients can be one of the best ways to get relevant internal experience before applying for an internal overseas role.
  • Studying overseas first can be another effective strategy that many of our students follow to improve their English and gain some overseas experience to prepare them for internationally located jobs.
  • Targeting companies with subsidiaries in your home country can be another way to make an international move. They may then offer you the opportunity to move overseas.
  • Seeking a job overseas in your existing industry can be an easier route in.
  • Develop a network before you go – target a shortlist of companies, approaching alumni. 
  • Get to know the market you’re applying to – if you want to impress the individuals and firms you contact, it’s essential to demonstrate strong motivation towards, and knowledge of, their country of residence. There are a plethora of such titles on ‘Living and Working in..’, Expatriates and Residents’ Guides to popular expatriate destinations, and numerous expat websites with guides to living and working in various countries.
  • Choose a country in which your particular skill set is in high demand. So, if you’re not set on a particular country, and have some say in the matter, do some research. Find out which countries are lacking skilled professionals in your field, and it should be easier to find a role.
  • Learn or brush up on your language skills if necessary – even an introductory course in a difficult language can bring cultural insights and enough words to change the tone of an interaction in your host country, and shows motivation to assimilate there.
  • Consult country guides – a number of organisations provide companies with in-depth guides to their overseas destination which they can supply to prospective hires.
  • WBS also provides free access to a comprehensive resource for student and alumni international job seekers –  a great first stop for information about overseas destinations. The resource contains country profiles, with details of job market trends, employer directories by sector, networking groups, jobsites, and local job-hunting etiquette.

Networking Overseas:

  • If you attend WBS, you’ll have access to people at your target firms and industries through WBS LinkedIn networks, our alumni directory, and by joining Warwick’s Professional Networks and Country Networks.
  • With Warwick International networks you can contact our ambassadors in over 50 countries as a first port of call in overseas locations. Warwick also has active Facebook, LinkedIn, and alumni groups in countries all over the world.

Other ideas for networking in your target country:

  • Find a mentor in your target country if you can identify one 
  • Use government help for your nationality
  • Use professional Membership Associations for your sector
  • Look for forthcoming international conferences and events relevant to your field/sector – attendees frequently travel from all over the world
  • Don’t underestimate the value of social, face-to-face networking while job seeking
  • Subscribe to in-country journals to keep track of trends, conferences, global jobs and networking opportunities
  • Female alumni can join some of the excellent women’s professional networks overseas
  • Use recruiters
  • Use LinkedIn Jobs and other specialist job sites for the region

How to make the move:

  • Reaching out to the network you’ve already created over a period of time is far preferable to making lots of online applications. You only need to look at the number of applicants for jobs advertised on LinkedIn for your destination country to understand why sourcing jobs through contacts, and ideally through recommendations, is far more likely to yield results.
  • Networking is key, both before and during the transition. Effective job seeking involves being on the ground locally to give you a better chance of building networks and being available for interviews.
  • As mentioned above, build a face-to-face relationship with a small number of specialist recruiters before you want to make the move.

Our online Career Management course offers a full version of this resource.