How to get a job overseas

Maaaaate, I’m no expert at this. Not really sure why I’m even writing this but lately a few people have been asking me how I get jobs abroad. Whether it’s just for a few weeks or a full year; I don’t know much about getting a proper grown up graduate/professional job but I know a bit about finding casual & part time work in different countries. I guess some advice is better than none, but if you want more in-depth and helpful advice then please GOOGLE IT 🙂

Be open minded

Carl Sagan quote.
Carl Sagan quote.

Firstly, if you want to work overseas you have to go into whatever situation with a bit of an open mind. You’ll probably end up working in a different field to what you expected or are used to but that’s usually a great thing. I’ve always loved photography but found it hard to gain studio experience in the UK (it’s a densely populated profession around London) and it’s all a bit overwhelming when you don’t know what you’re doing. But in South Africa I found a job as a photographers assistant really easily and learnt a lot (I actually think I knew more about what was going on than the head of the company) through watching and asking questions.

If an unusual job comes your way, see it as a unique experience, not a scary new line of work you know nothing about.

Figure out where you want to go and what type of job you’d like

Well, kinda. I’d say choose your place, then your job. Do your research on casual work, pay and working conditions so that it’s not a total shock when you arrive.

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This Scottish dude was tour guiding in Berlin.

Prepare to be underpaid and undervalued

Some places love foreign workers and treat them like kings (hellooooo teaching in Taiwan) and others accuse you of taking jobs from locals and assume you’re a lazy teen just avoiding ‘real work’. So if you prepare for the worst, maybe anything is a pleasant surprise? I’ve worked in jobs where what I’ve been paid is peanuts when converted into pounds but is more than enough to live off in that particular country.

Don’t expect to land your dream job

Be realistic. Unless people highly value you as an English speaker or you have mad skilllzzzz, you’re basically at the bottom of the food chain. In my experience, the best way to charm potential employers is to express your love for their country (at the end of the day, you chose to move there!), mention any relevant experience and show your commitment to the job (don’t give them reason to think you’ll slack off at any time to head to the beach).. If you’re only in the new country for a matter of weeks or months you’re unlikely to land the job you’ve always wanted.

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perks of the job; days off. Cape Point – South Africa

Respect locals need for jobs

This speaks for itself. Do your research and try not to be a white saviour about the process.

Don’t slack just because you know you won’t be around forever

Basically, don’t be a dick about it. There’s a reason you’ve been hired so don’t try and mug off your boss just because you know you’ll be onto the next country in a few weeks. I was working as a party assistant in Cape Town and would often get paid a bit extra than my salary and the other employees because my boss could see the extra efforts I was going to; hard work can pay off!

Always keep a look out for job opportunities

2 nights ago my mates were laughing at the fact that I was chatting to an old Irish guy when we’d gone out for drinks. It turned out he had a daughter who needed a part time babysitter. This morning I had an interview with said woman and now I’ve got 6 hours a week extra work, and I can learn some Spanish from her children! Don’t shut your eyes to opportunities just because you’re not in ‘job hunt mode’.

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I managed to get some paid photography work in Cape Town through word of mouth

Keep your visas & papers in order

I know GOV.UK has a lot of information for UK citizens regarding visa requirements abroad. It’s well boring looking into all this but kinda necessary. Sorry.

Know the correct etiquette for interviews

Not a massive deal when it comes to casual jobs abroad but it helps to get it right. It might be 40 degrees outside but don’t turn up to any interview in a crop top and hot pants (unless you’re going for an interview to be a hot pants model?! I dunnnnno). Most countries in mainland Europe will go for a kiss on each cheek, others use the standard handshake, some will go straight in for a hug. Do your research before you have the awkward experience of going in for a kiss and walking into their handshake.

Google, google, google

I feel like some of our generation still don’t get that every answer you could ever need is lurking somewhere on the internet! There are hundreds, if not thousands, of websites dedicated to helping you find a job overseas. I personally love Gumtree! I’ve actually found 4 decent paying and really enjoyable jobs through the site 🙂 I’ve heard most Au Pairs use Au Pair World or Facebook groups (au pair in Paris, au pair in Milan etc etc). Just make sure you meet your potential employer in a public place and maybe arrange a Skype interview beforehand. Don’t get Taken, Liam Neeson’s daughter styleeee. Doubt that’s much fun.

Stalk blogs

Man I love Turner from Around the world in 80 jobs – you should definitely check out his blog for advice a million times better than mine. Also I read Left Bank Manc before heading to Paris to be an au pair; people tend to tell it how it is on personal blogs and it’s a great indication to what the job or place will actually be like.

Get a TEFL certificate!

This is your passport to countless teaching jobs overseas. I did mine through tefl.org (140 hours) and found parts really difficult to complete but the hard work paid off as now I’m teaching English in sunny Spain. It can take you to loads of exotic places all over the world, so if you’re into teaching then I definitely recommend it.

Lastly, have ALL the lolz

I loved looking after kids in Paris!
I loved looking after kids in Paris!

Working abroad is friggin amazing! The work is usually chilled, the people are generally friendly, you can pick and choose where you want to be, I doubt you’ll be stuck in an office for 12 hours a day, you can avoid the commute if you get out of a main city, if you’re really lucky you can work outside in the sun and get tanned whilst getting paid.

If you’re passionate about a certain cause and have the funds to support it please consider volunteering! It’s still my favourite ‘job’ overseas.

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playing ‘what’s the time mr wolf’ with the kids in Otjikondo, Namibia

Whether you end up picking strawberries in Australia, handing out flyers in Rome, teaching english in Thailand, being a lifeguard in Dubai, au pairing in Paris, taking tours in South Africa or working in a bar in New York you can fund more travels and live a pretty jammy life working overseas. Go for it kiddos.

Mary x

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