Relocating to a new home? Here are 30 tips on finding a job in a new country.
Many people who find my blog are people who are considering the prospect of moving to the UK or London. Some of them are joining their partners in the UK, and some are simply reading about London life and UK destinations. Whatever your reason for moving, one thing is for sure – finding that first job when you’ve moved countries can be both exciting and daunting.
It is natural to feel this way, especially as moving countries can mean leaving your life behind and starting with a clean slate in uncharted territory. One of the things that have made me truly feel settled into my new home is finding a job. Apart from finding a sense of purpose on a day to day basis, I also felt more financially secure and independent. After not being able to work and earn money for some time while waiting for my visa application, I was keen to get back on the horse and start new employment and to contribute to our now shared household.
It is almost a year to my first year work anniversary. It took me a month of job hunting, which apparently is short for the UK. Mostly I got lucky, but there was also a lot of help and motivation from my husband and friends. Here are some useful tips from them and from my experience in looking for a job in London that might help you with yours.
- Sort out your work permits. Do not risk working in a new country without the correct work documents. Apart from most businesses requiring these documents before they give you a contract, it also endangers your permission to stay in this new country.
- Scope out the job market. – What do you want to do? What are you good at? What do you have experience in? What companies are the best in your field? In the UK, the job market is highly competitive. Make sure you bring your A-game.
- Refine your language skills. Whether you are working in a country with its own language or one that is predominantly English-speaking, make sure that you can confidently carry a conversation. Acquaint yourself with accents, brush up on some cultural slang, and research some industry relevant terms and phrases.
- Refresh your CV. Ensure that your CV is up to date with your most recent experience. Research formatting and templates used in your new country. There are so many differences in preference in each country. Also, make sure to customise your resume to the company and position that you are applying for.
- Use the right keywords. – Forget highfaluting words and jargon. Forget your last official title. Your keywords are your qualified skills and experience. If you say you are good at social media, what platforms and analytics tools do you have experience in? If you are a nurse, what qualifications and certifications do you have? Also, make sure your CV’s title is “your name_your desired title.pdf” it makes it easy for the person hiring to identify you and your application.
- Make sure your CV is readable whatever the OS. Do not give your employer a hard time. Make sure that your CV is accessible through several universal formats. Even if your application comes in the form of a portfolio or a video, have a traditionally outlined CV in PDF and Word-compatible formats.
- Get a sensible email. This is such an easy mistake, but something as simple as an immature email address can give off the wrong idea about your qualifications. I suggest that you sign up for a different email address that would point your applications in one place, and make sure that your email signature has all the key information such as your phone number and key online pages like LinkedIn and online portfolio.
- Don’t forget the cover letter. A cover letter gives an employer a peek into your personality and skills.
- Proofread that CV. Even the best authors need an editor. Make sure you have several people read your CV for proofing and honest feedback.
- Take advantage of internet job search. With today’s technology, everything is available at the tip of your fingertips. Don’t just search for a job title, search for geographic areas, companies, and related industries. Take advantage of notifications.
- Be realistic, but don’t feel defeated. You can increase opportunity by looking above and below your current job level. Understand that as a foreign worker, some industries may be harder or easier to get into, depending on the experience required and the transferable skills they will consider. Do not be disappointed if you get a job that is a level below what you used to do, it is most likely due to your required specific local and cultural understanding of the job. You will eventually acquire this, but you have to start somewhere.
- Look out for scams. I almost fell for a scam coming into the UK. I was told that I needed to pay an agent to get employment in a prestigious hotel as a marketing manager. If it asks for payment, too easy, or too good to be true – it probably is a scam. Be smart, always do your own research and don’t pay for anything. Headhunters get paid when you get hired.
- Contact a headhunter. Get your CV in front of headhunters, even when they don’t have an actual job opening for you. Cast a big net by spreading your CV and applications among a number of headhunters, just make sure to keep track of all of them and follow up from time to time.
- Meet people who work in the industry you want to work in. Get a feel for what your future employer will be looking for, and what the work culture is in your new home. It also doesn’t hurt to have friends who work in the same field, because it is nice to have someone whom you can run to for advice in the future.
- Clean up your online identity. Check your privacy settings across all social media channels and make sure to only show your best traits that would suit the job you’re applying for. These days, you can make an impression on a person just by typing a name in a search field. Make sure that whatever you’re showing online reflects a respectable image of you and/or what you want to be seen as.
- Get in touch with your referrals and character references. Give them a heads up that you are applying for a job again.
- Your job search is your job. Don’t just do it when you feel it. Be organised and find your momentum. Keep looking for new opportunities, make a spreadsheet of all your applications, and in your down time, read some industry news or refine your skills.
- Answer your phone right away. During this period, always be wary of your phone calls and messages. Do not keep an employer waiting, and make sure that your voice mail is set up just in case you can’t get to the phone right away.
- Go back to the basics. It may sound old-fashioned, but interviewers will often still go down the route of the old interview classics like “What is your greatest strengths and weaknesses” or “Why should we hire you?!” Read up on the most common job interview questions and make sure you have answers to them.
- Prepare questions. Asking questions in an interview gives your employer the impression that you are keen to get the job. Show interest and enthusiasm by asking the right questions. Here are some great questions to ask a job interviewer.
- Learn about the average salary for the job you want. Be in the position to negotiate. Sell yourself by confidently knowing your worth. Read up on the most recent UK average salaries, and also check the average salary based on job postings online.
- Make sure you have an “elevator speech” about yourself. If you have 30 seconds to answer who are you and what makes you special, what would you say?
- Research about the company and company culture. Employers will not just hire you for your skills, you will also need to be a good fit to their company culture. Some companies are more casual and fun than others, and some can be quite strict and professional. It would be good for you to show that you belong to their group as much as you are qualified for the job.
- Don’t lie about your experience. Making false pretences about your experience and skills will only get you in trouble. Nowadays, even when abroad, there are many ways an employer can cross reference your background.
- Check the weather. In fact, check everything that might possibly make you late or stressed. You want to get to your interview fresh and in control.
- Mind your manners. Whether you are talking to a headhunter or the front desk at a company you’re applying to, make sure you make a good impression.
- Don’t overthink it. This is probably one of the hardest things to do in an interview, but being comfortable and being yourself can help you gain confidence which will later translate to being right for the job.
- Say thanks! Send an email saying thank you to your interviewer. If you can’t find his or her email, call the company and ask for an email you can send a thank you message to. This will help put you back to their mind after the interview.
- Patience is a virtue. At the interview, make sure to ask what the next steps are and when you can expect a callback. Until then, do not make contact to follow up.
- Got the job? Get the details. Before you accept a job offer, be clear on everything from work hours to benefits. It is perfectly normal to present a counter offer and to negotiate your salary at this stage. Don’t be afraid to defend your worth and only go into a job if you are sure that you are happy with it.
Phew! That’s a long list. Hopefully, this helps in getting you your first job in your new home. My last tip? Make sure you enjoy your free time and really get to know your new country, you’ll be too busy for that when you get started with that job!
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