Succeed as an Expatriate Job Seeker

Succeed as an Expatriate Job Seeker

Succeed as an Expatriate Job Seeker:

I consistently find that people assume everyone else is talented and experienced but the reality is, everyone is figuring stuff out as they go, just like you.

Job search is tough enough in your local market. Relocating adds the challenge of understanding and competing in a new country.  You can position yourself for success by doing the right research, preparing your story, showing initiative and communicating your ability to meet the immediate needs of the organization and the role. Make being different your strength!



A good way to look for a job is to look for bridges between your previous experiences and the new geographic location. I have seen people land jobs because they speak a particular language, have knowledge about a place they have lived or possess a very specific job-related skill. A friend got a translation job from French to her native language while living abroad, then used that experience to land a teaching job in French when she came back home. Use whatever is unique about you to stand out from the competition.


It might also be worthwhile to do some career exploration before starting a job search. It is not easy to find a job if you don’t have a focus – it is like packing for a vacation without knowing if you’re going on a jungle safari or a ski trip to the mountains. Read job adverts or talk to people who know the market to learn what skills and experiences are valued in the marketplace, and tie those together with your strengths and story. If you find it difficult to get started, a job search or career advisor can help you to strategize your search.


If you have a gap in your resume then speak about it with confidence. Tell an engaging story about what you’ve been up to – exciting travels or perhaps you chose to stay home with the children. Perhaps you had health issues that made you to re-think your purpose and reconnect with yourself. But remember to say that you’re now really excited to enter the work life again and pursue this new opportunity.


A company that is hiring often needs to get someone in the role who is up to speed very  quickly. Often this favours local candidates. It is important that you convince prospective employers that if they hire you, it will be a smooth transition. Reduce their concerns by promoting your eagerness to learn and how your strengths and experience will add value to the company. Don’t try to cover up that you’re not a local in your application. What many companies have discovered is that diversity is good!

Another approach is to suggest doing a “working interview” to give the employer a taste of your potential. Not all employers have the time and resources to embrace the idea, but even if they don’t go for it, it demonstrates a high level of interest and initiative on your part. What better way to show them the value you can offer than by actually doing the job?


At least half the jobs are never advertised. How do you find these unadvertised jobs? Your neighbors, your friends, your kids’ friends’ parents… Everyone knows someone. Don’t ask them to get you a job, but ask them for advice and information. Put together a contact list of people you know who might be able to help you. Include family members, friends, school and college friends, former co-workers or managers, people you know through volunteer organizations, parents of your children’s friends, your dentist, hairdresser, whoever. An architect I know in Poland got a contract with someone she happened to talk with in a McDonald’s!


Image credit: Austin Kleon