This post was inspired by my work trip to Colombia last week. I met with dozens of professionals of all walks of life and career paths and questions like "What are the best places to work overseas right now?", "Where is the highest demand for foreign talent?", and “Do I have any chances of being hired for an expat role?” were the hot topics for discussions last week in Bogota. First, let’s get this self-limiting question out of the way:
Do I stand a chance of getting hired? / Am I good enough to compete on an international job market?
Some of you may know about my international background. I worked and lived in ten countries on five continents before I founded GotHired, and since then, I’ve continued expanding my global footprint across North America, Latin America, The Caribbean, and Eastern Asia. During the pre-GotHired years, I secured international work assignments by doing one of three things:
· Studying in a foreign country and obtaining part-time employment on and off campus
· Getting hired by a multinational company and being transferred by my employer
· Going to a new country and finding employment on the ground with no contacts, referrals or introductions.
So when I write about or coach my clients on the overseas job search strategies, my approach is very practical and my message is an empowering one, because I've done it myself multiple times, and I don't come from a wealthy family, nor am I smarter or more ‘connected’ than most. What helped me was:
· Big determination
· Confidence in the value that I bring to the marketplace
· Risk-tolerance because didn’t have much to lose
· Understanding how to put myself in situations where I had very little to no competition
Answer these five questions honestly: Do you have a branded, accomplishments-based resume? Can clearly and confidently communicate your value? Do you meet the language skills and degree requirements? Are you prepared to do what it takes to go above and beyond applying online and waiting? Are you willing to go to markets with less competition? If you answered “Yes” to all of the above, you could be in your new expat role in 3 months or less. No kidding. I did it (back in the day when there were fewer resources and opportunities for remote job search). Hundreds of my clients did it. And you can do it too.
Working Abroad | My Top Picks: Best Countries for Expat Jobs in 2018 - 2019
Just like at home, not all jobs abroad are created equal. Many factors come into play when choosing working abroad opportunities. How adventurous are you? Do you want to immerse yourself in a foreign culture or do you prefer a more familiar Western culture? Do you want to learn a language or stick with English? Is it safe to live there? My current top picks are based primarily on:
· Current skill shortages and employment trends
· Availability of special programs to attract foreign talent
· Security and safety
The country has experienced rapid economic growth over the last few years, and companies are now looking at expanding their workforces across various sectors. Like in many other countries, a position would be given to an expat only if no qualified Bulgarian national could fill the post. However, the contemporary labor market in Bulgaria requires highly qualified and multilingual specialists all the time. In addition, many international high-profile corporations that have outsourced some of their service, production or marketing teams. The foreign investment in different spheres in the country usually requires the know-how of international experts.
The Chinese government invests heavily in infrastructural, scientific, and technological innovation, and is also making a sincere effort to globalize its country into a new international order. Foreign workers are valued highly in China for these reasons, and engineering jobs are plentiful in all sectors of the profession. Other key skills in demand: R&D professionals, eCommerce and digital professionals, business development and account management professionals, audit, risk and compliance. Do this quick exercise: run a few searches for your target job titles in China using the LinkedIn job board. You’d be surprised how many search results and position descriptions show up in English, not Chinese.
Colombia has gained some significant advances when it comes to working abroad and is now featured among the best options for those who want to build a career in a foreign country. The country has drastically improved its results for job satisfaction and career opportunities. One in five expats considers their career options excellent, and two-thirds are satisfied with their job. Key skills in demand: business unit managers, supply chain managers, financial controllers, product managers, and software developers.
As one of the most industrialized countries in Eastern Europe, the Czech Republic has plenty of opportunities in automobile production and tech. Employment growth is concentrated in high-skill occupations. And its unemployment rate, at 3.3. %, is the lowest in the European Union, according to the International Monetary Fund. Other skills in demand: HR professionals, developers, QA engineers, English speaking accountants.
Its e-Residency program has already attracted 10,000 global entrepreneurs who established businesses in Estonia, then run them anywhere in the world. Check out https://e-resident.gov.ee/ There is also a high demand for senior managers and ICT professionals.
The country's economy is dominated by the private sector, which generates about 85% of GDP, and companies are looking at rapidly expanding headcount over the next few years. Expats are in high demand in specific market segments such as tourism and language teaching.
The country may be one of the most expensive places to live in the world, but it is a financial hub for Asia and seen as a gateway for financial services in mainland China. Other key skills in demand: cybersecurity experts, developers, digital marketing professionals, sales professionals.
While there are currently six workers to every retired person in Iceland, it's predicted that by 2040 there will only be three. Iceland is in need of roughly 2,000 foreign workers each year until then to address this imbalance and combat the repercussions of an aging population. In particular, the healthcare, construction, IT and tourism sectors are in need of workers. The Directorate of Labor advises sending speculative applications to the companies you'd like to work for, as positions are not always advertised.
Skilled expat professionals are actively recruited to work in Ireland to address skills shortages in the local workforce. It is seen as strategically useful for specific industries in Ireland to hire expats. Fortunately for foreign candidates looking to move to Ireland, these skills gaps cover various professions in numerous sectors such as finance, IT, healthcare, construction management, and medical research.
The country tops many rankings for quality of life and has become a draw for families over recent years. There is a shortage of skilled professionals in Accountancy and IT in New Zealand, so it’s relatively easy to find work in these two areas. Healthcare workers who are prepared to work outside of the countries’ main cities are also in demand. Check out the Immigration New Zealand website for their Immediate Skill Shortage List.
The country is becoming a draw for companies looking to expand in Europe as the cost of living is very low and wages are comparatively low, and the quality of life is meant to be ample. The most significant increase in vacancies is in finance, banking, and accounting. Also, manufacturing is still one of the areas with the most significant skill shortage, followed by hospitality and construction.
There are almost endless opportunities to teach English abroad, from South America, to Europe and Asia to Africa, the choice is yours. But South Korea has long been one of the most popular destinations due to the generous perks teachers can expect in addition to their normal salaries, which are also at the higher end of the spectrum. Think paid holidays, free accommodation and even end-of-year bonuses.
One of the best places in the world for expats looking to grow their careers and is fast becoming a hub in the continent for tech and finance jobs. The country scores well for job security but also for entrepreneurship, making it a good place to start your own business.
United Arab Emirates
More than 80% of the UAE's population are expats. The UAE scores particularly well for wage growth, entrepreneurship, and career progression but it can be challenging to integrate into the conservative local culture. Oil & Gas and construction industries are still strong, and health care and tech industries are experiencing high-growth and talent shortage. Other skills in demand: PAs with past C-suite experience, senior sales managers and turnaround specialists.
Check out my earlier blog post “17 Ways To Find Work Overseas” for specific tips and strategies.
Expat Job Boards and Programs