For those who live in the U.S., a “non-local” job search typically means you’re looking for work out-of-state. However, for professionals living in Europe or other areas of the world, it could mean searching in another country. Looking for work across borders comes with its own unique set of challenges—many of which can be solved by leveraging your professional contacts. Here, you’ll find a few best practices to employ while networking for international jobs.
Why Focus on Networking for International Jobs?
Finding a new job is always a rigorous process, but searching internationally is especially difficult when you’re going in cold. Recruiters and hiring managers know that an applicant who currently lives out of the country won’t be as easily accessible for in-person interviews. They may require more paperwork and a longer lead time before starting. Plus, they’ll have a major move to sort out and, potentially, some big personal adjustments to make once they arrive. All of this can make you a high-risk candidate, which makes your application an easy one to pass over.
However, with a strong recommendation—or even just a warm introduction—from someone on the inside or one of their associates, your candidacy won’t look so daunting. All of the concerns regarding an out-of-country hire can be mitigated for the right individual. The people in your network can help open doors that might remain firmly closed if you were just another international candidate applying online.
So, how exactly do you expand and leverage your contacts when networking for international jobs? Here are just a few things to consider.
Also read: 4 Ways to Provide Value to Your Contacts While Networking | Networking for Success Series
Extend Business Travel
Networking in person is really the best way to establish new bonds and deepen existing ones. If you’re asking a current contact to help make introductions on your behalf, doing so face-to-face is often the most effective option. But of course, it can be hard to make that happen, even when you live in the same city. Crossing an international border for a coffee date can be a difficult thing to work into your schedule.
Therefore, if you already travel for business, consider extending your travels to allow time for networking activities. Whether your business takes you to the specific country in which you’re searching, or just somewhere in the general vicinity, it can be worthwhile to add a few days on to either side of the trip to meet up with contacts, attend meetings of your local professional association, or join a networking event.
Remember too that networking for international jobs can happen anywhere. While you’re in your target country, spend some time engaging in personal activities too. You never know what kind of professional connections you might make while attending a local religious service or having a drink at the local watering hole.
Of course, you might not be fortunate enough to have business that takes you to your target country on a regular basis. That’s okay! You’ll still want to take some personal time to go there in-person when possible, but technology can help in the meantime.
Search LinkedIn to find professionals in your field already working in your target country. Ask to connect with them and, when you do, explain why you’re reaching out: “I’m a fellow financial advisor interested in relocating to your area. Would you be open to connecting?”
You can also ask friends and family to connect you with people they know in your target country. Email, IM and social media makes it easy to strike up conversations and get to know people even from afar.
Also read: How to Interrupt the Endless Networking Cycle and Get Results | Networking for Success Series
Consider asking your new online contact(s) to join you for a virtual coffee date via Skype. That way, you can make a face-to-face connection and build some deeper rapport. If and when you have this kind of opportunity, take advantage of the time together by asking your new contact some useful questions. For example:
- What do you think I should know about doing business in your country?
- Do you know of any local job hunting resources I should be aware of?
- Do you know anyone else who has made an international move like this? Would you introduce me if so?
If you have a target company (or a list of them), be sure to share that as well; if your contacts know specifically what you’re looking for, they’ll be more capable of helping.
When you are able to travel to your target country, be sure to schedule one-on-one meetings with your contacts. Talking online and even via video conference just isn’t the same as a face-to-face conversation.
Study Up on Customs
Lastly, it’s important to remember that social norms and business etiquette can vary dramatically from one country to another, and even from region to region within the same country. Familiarize yourself with the customs of the country and the specific area you’re networking in to avoid making embarrassing mistakes or causing offense. Whether you’re attempting to create a new relationship, deepening an existing one, or making a specific request of a current contact, you always want to make sure you’re demonstrating respect and cultural awareness.
If you’re looking to take your job search to a different country, your professional relationships will help make it happen. Follow these best practices when networking for international jobs, and you’ll be well on your way to making this exciting career move a reality.