If you’re traveling, you should get a job abroad. Even if you’re basically on vacation, you should still probably get a job abroad.
There’s no better way to learn about a culture, meet new people, learn about the most delicious foods, or have an actual reason to deserve sipping cocktails than by getting a job abroad. This post breaks down what types of jobs you can get abroad and how to get them.
In this post, I’ve included my free guide to getting a job abroad in my Travel Resource Library, websites and e-mail templates included. It has tons of helpful information for going abroad. Join below!
When I quit my job to volunteer abroad, I knew that I also wanted to get a job. A job abroad would help me a bit with money, but as I’m in Southeast Asia, I wasn’t counting on much. I mostly wanted to get a job to learn more about the local culture, learn more about working abroad, and meet other travelers. Plus, I’m traveling alone, so a job gives me a sense of purpose.
Which job abroad?
In my eyes, abroad jobs boil down into two major categories:
1- Professional positions
These positions relate to your professional path. They probably have something to do with your college major and/or previous jobs you’ve had. Basically, if you had this job in your home country, it would be the professional equivalent to the position abroad. This position won’t entirely change your professional path because you’re abroad. These jobs may be:
- A job within your company’s location abroad
- A job within your field for a foreign company
- Teaching (if you’re a teacher)
- Tourism (if related to your line of work)
- Nonprofit jobs (if related to your line of work)
2- Recreational jobs
These jobs aren’t directly an advancement of your career. These are more jobs abroad you get to pay the bills, learn about working in another country, and truthfully, to have fun! These jobs often look like this:
- Bartending/ Waitressing
- Hotel/Hostel work
- Tourism (if unrelated to your field of work)
- Au Pair
- Farming/ Ranch jobs
- Teaching (if unrelated to your field of work)
Both types of work certainly have their own benefits. If you’re working abroad solely for your career, then perhaps the professional route is what you should focus on. If you’re working abroad to fund your time abroad, recreational work may be best. It’s more flexible, easier to get, and can help you get similar jobs the more you travel.
There are essentially two ways to go about getting a job abroad:
1- Before you get there
Most would probably say this is the smarter way to go abroad. This means that you already have a secured income for getting there, so you won’t need to be as stressed about properly budgeting. You also will go there with a sense of purpose, which is extremely valuable.
2- Getting a job once you get there.
Not everyone will agree with me, but I actually suggest this way to go about working abroad. It’s a bit riskier, and you’ll have to afford to live without working for a little while. But, it allows you to get a feel for what you want to do, where you want to be, and just have a bit more lay of the ground. I had a job interview at a bar lined for me before I arrived in Southeast Asia, and I was thrilled! Looked like a cool, rooftop bar. I arrive just to learn it’s a pretty dangerous bar! Yikes.
While this method is easier to apply to recreational jobs, you can also do it with professional jobs. One of my best friends went to Australia with no job, and within a month had a 9-5 desk job in communications, which she loved! She was nervous about going over with no job but was SO happy she waited. What she did do right to make this happen, though, was get a working visa beforehand. If you want to work abroad, make sure you get the proper visa to do so before you go, even if you don’t have a job. (These options will vary significantly with each country).
Other steps you can take:
Before you go
Do some research
This is actually more fun that the word “research” makes it sound! This gives you a chance to think about what part of that culture you want to contribute to, and what sort of people you meet along the way. The most valuable part here is to know what type of work you want to do abroad. You don’t necessarily need to know where you’ll work.
Know the visa laws
The laws on this vary greatly, so you need to be responsible about this. Figure out what the working laws and visa laws are and comply. Some countries may require you to have a job set up before they’ll approve you for a working visa, so in that case you want your job before. However, I think most are the other way around. You need a visa to get a job. In which case you want to be sure to get your visa, but don’t need to worry yet about getting your job.
Bring resumes and business cards
Get some copies of both to have with you before you go abroad. These can be hugely helpful in finding a job abroad as you meet people and find news places. You also should just have them to network abroad. For free travel business card templates, join my Travel Resource Library below.
Getting a job.
Every country has different ways of hiring and finding employees. This is why researching what type of job you want is so valuable. If you want a recreational job, the hiring process is usually a lot less formal (this is the case in the US, too).
If you’re in the right place at the right time, you can make things happen. For recreational jobs, what I’ve learned is that you’re going really to only have luck when talking with managers. Employees can say that they will pass your interest on, but they either simply don’t or they do but the manager has no face to put to your interest, so you get lost in the shuffle. You need to meet them, which I’ve found is easiest early in the day when the business is just opening.
Please note that this advice is by no means procedurally official. This is only from my personal trial and error, but this has worked for me and I know many others that have had the same experience. The best part of this process is that it makes you realize that you don’t need to have a job lined up to go abroad. You’re giving yourself opportunity to make sure you’re maximizing this incredible time! Figure out where you want to go and talk to the right people. You’ll be working and meeting people and living before you know it!