How to Start Your Career Abroad


Updated on May 14 • 6 minute read

Hats off to you! You’ve finished your studies and you’re ready to face the world. Now for the next step, which is… well, what exactly? Even with several years of academia under your belt, and even after attending all those career advice events, knowing where to start your job hunt can be downright mystifying.

Do you have plenty of work experience behind a bar, but little to no professional experience behind a computer at an office desk? Did you have helpful and transparent career advice, but can’t recall a single workshop for international career advice?

Well we’re here to tell you that it’s not just about drowning your CV in well-known names and proving that you interned at the biggest companies. In short, there’s no reason why an understandably limited professional background should stop you from bagging your first post-grad job, in the field and locale of your choosing.

We know that navigating the career maze can be just as stressful as trying to graduate. Don’t worry, we’ve got you! Here, we’ll break down the top cities to relocate to and offer key tips for interview prep and CV makeovers. Who knows, perhaps you’ll take a leap and choose to broaden your horizons by starting your career abroad.

Making the Decision to Move Abroad

There are countless benefits to living abroad, but the actual moving can be a minefield. Where do you want to set up base? Do you even want an established base at this point in your life? What are some of the best locales for your intended field or career? Are some cities more welcoming of expats and inviting to digital nomads than others? So many questions, so little time! Let’s narrow it down a bit...

Top cities in which to find a job

HousingAnywhere recently conducted thorough research into the top 100 cities to find a job, and the results could surprise you. The top five global cities to consider starting your career in were ranked on several measurements, namely: the number of available jobs, the average salary, the cost of living, startup score, quality of life and open-mindedness. Can you see yourself in one of these top spots?

  1. Munich, Germany
  2. San Francisco, California, United States
  3. Zurich, Switzerland
  4. Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  5. London, United Kingdom

Safest European Cities

Safety, and feeling secure is paramount to any relocation, let alone moving to another country. Fortunately, HousingAnywhere also polled the safest cities in Europe to gain some insights to help young professionals and post-grads move abroad. The top five safest European cities according to our index are:

  1. Vienna, Austria
  2. Prague, Czech Republic
  3. Stockholm, Sweden
  4. Munich, Germany
  5. Zurich, Switzerland

Top International Countries

Certain countries are simply more appealing to expats; some capital cities, for instance, even open up entire neighborhoods to international students and young professionals. Some governments also offer a range of short- and long-term methods of residency, provided that particular employment requirements are met and maintained.

5 European countries that have a strong track-record of welcoming expats include:

  • The Netherlands boasts an impressive four cities in the top 20 list of the best places to live for expats: The Hague, Amsterdam, Eindhoven, and Rotterdam. Explore rental homes in Rotterdam.

  • Germany has the second highest number of immigrants, after the U.S. ‒ that’s 12% of the population

  • Belgium has an astounding 220,000 expats, with 179 different nationalities in Brussels alone Explore rental homes in Brussels.

  • Of Spain’s internationals 82% are from other European countries, with many settling in Madrid. Explore rental homes in Madrid

  • 84% of Italy’s expats rank their new homeland as one of the top climates for moving abroad, noting Tuscany in particular.

Cities for Digital Nomads

Digital nomads, freelancers or entrepreneurs that travel from city to city, are a growing phenomenon. In the United States alone, nearly 4.8 million Americans are considered to be part of this career trend. Most digital nomads will relocate depending upon factors like; freelancing opportunities, living conditions and the quality of life. This itinerant existence is so popular because it is the perfect way to simultaneously travel and earn a living. Of course, there are some cities that are more suited to digital nomads than others, including:

  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Mexico City, Mexico
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Budapest, Hungary

Preparing for an Interview

Now you have a sense of the cities around the world that could suit your career ambitions, you should start thinking about the formidable job application process.

Alongside your studies, you may have had a part-time job or worked on campus, in the library, in one of the cafés or at the student union for instance. But however rewarding these jobs may have been, they most likely did not require four rounds of interviews, two digital aptitude tests and a pristine CV to top it off. When you begin to search for a career, the interview process becomes much more complex and drawn-out than the procedure for temporary employment.

According to Indeed, a leading global employment platform, there are a number of ways to make a great first impression. This includes researching the company and the position, and ensuring that you are confident about walking through the door. Getting invited to even walk through that door however, often hinges on submitting a phenomenal CV.

Create a Professional CV

The important thing to remember when writing up a CV is that it is a summary of your past experiences and accomplishments. If you don’t have a lot in the way of work history, you shouldn’t feel any less confident; it’s to be expected from a new graduate! However, do your best to compensate with extra-curricular activities such as any associations, clubs, societies or charities you have been part of. Then, arguably most importantly, what skills and lessons you developed from these activities.

Most CVs should include the following sections:

  • Up-to-date contact information
  • A brief personal statement
  • Employment history
  • Education
  • Additional Skills

You may also want to note:

  • Certifications
  • Languages
  • Training
  • Awards
  • Volunteer work
  • Influencing
  • Associations
  • Specialized activities

A lot of people ask if references should be listed on your CV. Remember that your CV needs to be 1-2 pages long, meaning spacing is precious. if you feel that it is something your potential employer needs to know, then it’s best to mention that you have references available upon request.

Dress the Part

You may have heard the saying, “dress for the job you want, and not the job that you have.” This is particularly true when it comes to interviews. In fact, research from WorkPac Group illustrates that 55% of first impressions are based on a person’s attire. Additionally, 65% of employers, or those who work in human relations, indicate that an applicant’s dress could be a deciding factor between two, otherwise identical, candidates.

A general rule of thumb is that you should try to dress for the culture of the particular company with which you are interviewing. Whether this is more formal, business casual or a manual working environment, do your research and dress to impress!

Getting Prepared for the Big Move

Once you’ve jumped through all the hoops and have secured a position, you’re ready to start your new career! If this new position is abroad, then you’ll need to prepare the logistics of your move, well in advance. It needn’t overwhelm you; statistics show that thousands of young expats move abroad for professional reasons every year. You’re certainly not alone! By following a few nuggets of wisdom, you can be sure to make your move as stress-free as possible.

Search for Housing

As soon as you’ve bagged the job, start looking for housing right away, and ensure it’s on a trusted housing platform. While real estate agents can assist, their fees are much higher and the process is far more bureaucratic. Some housing sites even alert you when a property that matches your preferences is listed. Depending on the location, housing can be in high demand, so don’t delay, especially if you are on a strict budget.

Make Sure Your Documents Are in Order

It is imperative to have the necessary documents in order. It’s no fun to be in a foreign country and find that you don’t have the proper documentation to sign a lease, open a bank account or set up phone service.

Some of these official documents that you’ll probably need include:

  • Passport
  • Visa information or forms
  • Birth certificate
  • Travel records
  • Medical records
  • Insurance information
  • Proof of income

Jot Down a Packing List

Research your intended destination and go over your checklist multiple times to be sure you’re ready for your adventure. People often forget to understand the climate of their new city. You should plan accordingly, as you may need to bring clothing for all four seasons! Also, don’t forget to include your essentials, medications and electronics. Forgotten items may cost more in your new location, so as you arrange everything, it’s a good idea to keep an ongoing list that you can add to in the ‘Notes’ section on your smartphone.

Learn the Language

While most cities that are popular with expats have plenty of English-speaking internationals, it’s always best to learn a few phrases and common words before you leave home. Some great apps to install on your smartphone are Memrise, Duolingo and HelloTalk. Once you actually arrive, many community centers and libraries also offer free language classes.

Relocating for a new career after graduation can be one of the most adventurous times of your life. Just be prepared, do your research, begin to expand your network and get ready for the rest of your life!

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