How to Do an International Job Search

By: Beth Brindle

Landing an International Job

To some extent, the process of landing a job in another country is the same as it would be here in the states, although the added challenges of distance and cultural norms mean that you'll probably need a bit more planning and coordination to succeed in your international job search.

As with any job search, be sure that you're targeting jobs for which you are qualified. Rather than sending out resumes indiscriminately, apply for specific positions that fit well with your background, interests and experience. Speaking of resumes, be aware that in many countries, the standard job history is presented in a CV, or curriculum vitae, rather than a resume, and the requirements and expectations for length and content vary greatly from place to place [source: Going Global]. In France, your resume will be called a CV (wait, didn't they give us the word résumé in the first place?), and the employer may expect you to include your picture, date of birth and marital status, as well as how many children you have [source: Morgan].


One very important difference between a domestic and an international job search is that in many cases you'll need to secure a work visa before you will even be considered for a job, and in nearly every country, you will need some sort of work visa or permit before you can be hired or begin work [source: Going Global]. Web sites like Going Global or the various expat sites can help you research visa requirements, but always confirm the information you find with the U.S. State Department Web site or the embassy of your destination country.

When you do score an interview, even if it's just an exploratory or informational interview with someone you find through your network, be sure to brush up on the local business etiquette and accepted interview practices, which can be very different from one country to another. Even if your first contact is a phone interview, you'll need to find out how you should address the interviewer. Are first names acceptable, or are titles such as mister (or monsieur) the norm? If the interview will be conducted in a language other than English (more about that on the next page), should you use formal or informal pronouns? Is it considered rude for a job applicant to ask questions, or will it be seen as a lack of interest or preparation if you don't?

Just as you would for a job interview here in the United States, prepare, prepare, prepare, and then follow up promptly with individual e-mails or thank-you notes to each person you spoke with.