Young people everywhere are becoming increasingly mobile.
In our globalized economy, working abroad is no longer a novelty for the fortunate few – it’s becoming mainstream.
For recent graduates, however, jetting off to live and work abroad can seem like a daunting prospect. Having worked so hard to get a degree, they can be put off moving abroad by a fear that they will be foregoing the opportunity to put those skills to good work.
And for those who have found a job already it can be very much the easier option to stay at home.
But, contrary to these suspicions, moving abroad can be great for your career, and doesn’t have to involve big sacrifices. In fact, it offers some unique benefits.
Why go abroad?
There are many exciting gains to be made by taking the plunge and settling overseas. It’s increasingly possible to find work in your chosen field, and working abroad is for many a great way to actually save money.
Moving to another country offers plenty of opportunities for boosting your career, helping you to acquire new, varied skills and experience, and to establish an international network which may well pay dividends in the future.
Before you make up your mind, we will run you through a few of the big things to consider.
The surest way to put yourself off moving to a new country is to start worrying about the logistics. But the truth is it’s never been easier to up sticks and go overseas.
The starting point should be with visas and work permits. If you are an EU citizen, then any country in the Union has already opened its doors. But even if you’re not you will still have a lot of options. Before going any further, check out where your passport(s) let you move to and work without too much hassle.
We live in a connected world. Wherever you end up, the internet will follow. No matter where you’re planning to move to, you will be able to research beforehand, reach out to people who already live there, and connect with like-minded expats when you get there.
There are even annual reports ranking countries as destination for expats, such as InterNation’s ‘Expat Insider’.
There’s really never been a better time to live abroad.
While setting up in a new country may demand a bit of investment to start off with, for many the potential rewards are well worth it.
For some, there is a ‘push’ factor at home. Perhaps your chosen field is going through a downturn, or just simply isn’t as big in your own country as it is elsewhere.
Looking for work in a new country may be a better option than staying at home and finding work in something you’re not passionate about.
There are also often ‘pull’ factors at work. Many expats find higher salaries, better quality of life, or just increased day-to-day affordability a big draw. Once you realize that your salary could go a lot further in another country, moving abroad may not appear such a worrying prospect.
HSBC’s 2018 ‘Expat Explorer’ survey found that 50% of respondents earned more as an expat than they had at home.
If you stand to make a lot more money working abroad, consider creating saving targets and plan initially for only a temporary stay.
English is a vital skill for the vast majority of expats. It is Europe’s (and the world’s) common language, and will help you ‘get by’ almost anywhere.
In an increasingly digital, global economy, there are ever more work opportunities in English. If your chosen field mainly involves the mastery of a universal skill, intermediate English may be all you need to find work abroad.
But language can also be a career opportunity in itself. Our globalized world has also boosted opportunities for language teachers. Google Translate is one thing, but now there are even greater demands than before for truly mastering a foreign language for work or pleasure.
Teaching your native tongue, or a language you are fluent in, can be a great way to fund your move, and often allows you to remain extremely mobile. (For example, it may be a good idea to do at least a short course leading to a qualification in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) before setting off.)
Skills and Experience
Most of all, moving abroad will help develop your self-reliance and adaptability, and foreign work experience will look great on your CV.
Beyond what you can list on a sheet of paper, working abroad teaches you a lot about the world, and about yourself – which you simply can’t get any other way.
Taking a gap year in a foreign land and hopping from AirBnb to AirBnb will only get you so far. Living and working in a foreign country is an extremely rewarding experience in and of itself, and could be the making of you.
By starting your career abroad, you will most likely acquire the same (or similar) skills and experience as you would have at home. But, as every country and culture does things their own way, you’ll have a unique opportunity to see from a new perspective.
If you aren’t ready to start a career, there are many programmes for students and young people who are eager to work abroad, including volunteer projects and temporary paid work.
Volunteering can be extremely valuable for your career, giving you the opportunity to work for a good cause while at the same time gaining rewarding experience. The best-known schemes are those run by international development organisations like Voluntary Service Overseas and Raleigh International.
Before you go...
If you're considering moving abroad it's important that you know how to tailor your job applications to country-specific conditions.
Looking for some inspiration about where to go? Check out our guides to some of the most popular destinations for new graduates:
- 5 reasons why London is (still) a great place to live and work
- 5 reasons why Dublin is a top destination for new graduates
- [Amsterdam one (still to come)...]
If you already know where you’re going, check out our guidance on how to get your CV into shape: