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Getting Work in Another Country

Often there are possibilities to earn more money or gain valuable experience by working in another country. I learned (and earned) a lot while working in London and Amsterdam and recommend travelling if you get the opportunity.

There are two ways of getting work in another country. One way is to work for a multi-national company and get transferred, this gives benefits of having the company sort everything out for you (creating a bank account etc). But it isn’t an option that is open to many people.

Getting a job directly in another country is in some ways more difficult than expected and in some ways easier.

Here are some of the factors that make it easier:

  • Once you arrive in your destination country it’s usually easy to get work if the economic conditions are good. When choosing a country to migrate to and a time to migrate you will generally make sure that the economic conditions are reasonably good (or at least demand is greater than supply for your industry sector).
  • It’s widely believed by employers that employees from other countries have valuable experience to bring, due to working conditions being different in other countries. I am doubtful of this (but I don’t complain when it helps me get a job).
  • Employers often believe that employees from a long way away are very highly motivated and work really hard. I believe that this is correct as it applies to the employees that they get (EG Australians in the EU work really hard). Not that Australians in general would work harder than Europeans, but people who are willing to travel so far for their career will be motivated and people who have recently arrived in a country where they have few friends and no relatives have less things to distract them from work.

Here are some of the problems that you will face:

  • Different expectations of employers. For example in Australia a university degree is not really required while European employers demand it.
  • Getting a bank account. When I arrived in the UK I had trouble getting a bank account due to money-laundering laws. A passport was not sufficient and I needed proof of address, but renting an apartment without having a bank account was difficult too… I ended up getting an accountant to recommend me to a bank. Apparently the easiest way of doing this is to get an Australian bank that is part of a multi-national banking group to get their UK equivalent to set up an account before you leave Australia. Also I know people who had problems getting a Dutch bank account (fortunately there is the PostBank which deals with everyone). The UK laws may have changed in the last 8 years, but it’s the sort of problem that can get you in any country – as you can’t get paid without a bank account it’s serious!
  • Renting an apartment. I think it’s best to plan to live in hotels until you get a job that will last a while, then you can live reasonably close to your work. Also landlords will often want to know where you work before deciding whether to accept you as a tenant. I lived in hotels in the UK for almost a year and never rented an apartment because of this. It’s not a problem if the stuff you need can fit into a couple of suitcases.
  • Learning how to save money. Little things like bulk purchases of train tickets can save significant amounts of money. It’s the sort of thing that locals learn by osmosis but foreigners can take months or years to learn them. This is especially a problem when you don’t speak the local language and discount vouchers have fine print.
  • Catching a taxi. Taxi drivers generally only speak the local language and if you don’t speak it then you will have problems. Showing a taxi driver a laptop screen with printed directions and a map helps.

2 comments to Getting Work in Another Country

  • What I did when I was in Finland for the 1st time is printing a paper with all the addresses I might need and giving it to the taxi driver :)

    Later I started writing the addresses by hand (I still do it sometimes if we fail to communicate) on a piece of paper.

  • In my country, you are called city-boy when you know all the directions and stations of subway.