When you’re trying to find a contract job in a new country, you probably already know that one of your most powerful tools will be the internet. The internet allows you to connect with contacts from all over the world. You’ll also benefit from a well-maintained network and the ability to sell yourself to recruiters and potential clients.
However, before you start applying for work, your first step will be lots and lots of research.
Do your research
This step might be the most important one. Since recruiters and companies are on the lookout for contractors who can start working quickly, you should be prepared to answer questions and express definite interest. This requires knowing your stuff, which generally requires research.
Know your market
You need to have a clear understanding of how many employers are looking for your skillset in your preferred country; in other words, you should know the probability of actually getting hired for this type of work, in this particular country.
Every step that comes after this one will be premature if you’re not decently confident about the demand for your work. Even if the market is good in your current location, seeking contracts in a new country means you need to understand the conditions of a totally different setting.
Work out your plans beforehand
You should also be confident about relevant details: are you taking any family members with you overseas? If you’re currently a permanent employee, have you given notice? If you seem unsure about your plans, recruiters might not take you as seriously and could write you off in favour of another candidate.
Where do I start?
You can talk to recruiters from the country in which you’re wanting to work. Having an extensive network of business contacts also helps (more on that later).
Another vital resource will be job postings. Project sites are important for keeping track of possible work, but also because they can help you assess the demand for your skill-set in your desired location.
Before you begin applying for positions in earnest, researching job ads can tell you which skills are in shortage, what sort of rates you can expect, and the kinds of companies that might be looking for help.
Combing through job posting websites is an obvious avenue, but also an important one. Many contractors find a significant portion of their work through intermediary parties, so learn how to use them to your advantage.
Finding useful job sites
Doing your own research on project sites is beneficial for feeling out your job prospects, but it will also help you discern which sites deserve your attention.
It’s best to stick with known, trusted sites. While bigger doesn’t always mean better in this aspect, established sites are less likely to post spurious ads and will have a fresher crop of postings.
Further, many countries have their own unique job-searching sites, so try to familiarise yourself with them through your own investigation. If you aren’t sure where to start, search message boards and forums for expats in that country.
We have listed the most popular job boards for many of the countries that we cover; just select the country from the drop down menu above.
Set up alerts
Once you’ve got a handle on the market and have found some reliable sources for job opportunities, take advantage of the notification systems that a lot of sites offer. This way, you can stay up to date on the latest offerings without having to log in to different sites each time.
You don’t have to limit yourself to job search sites. Many companies will advertise positions on their own websites; if you know you’re interested in working with a specific company, make sure you check out their website to see if they’re looking for anyone with your skillset.
Add your CV
Many sites allow you to upload your CV, allowing potential clients or recruiters to find you, instead of vice versa (jump here for more on writing a great CV).
Know your audience
It’s tempting to throw CVs and cover letters at every job posting that fits your specifications, but take the time to know a potential client and what they’re looking for. Companies often need temporary workers for extremely specific projects, so you want to be sure that you’re selling the right skills.
Also, since you might be looking for work in a completely different time zone, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of when you’re contacting people. Browser plugins (for example, Boomerang for Chrome) make it easy to send emails at scheduled times.
If you’re working independently, it’s crucial to establish a network of relationships that assures clients you’re a low-risk solution to their problem. LinkedIn is an indispensable tool for building this sort of network internationally and can help you stay current with market demand, potential clients, and job opportunities.
Do even more research
It sounds redundant, but a little bit of extra time scoping out the playing field can make a huge difference in finding work.
Take a look at potential clients, other contractors, and recruiters; observe how they communicate and use LinkedIn. Are they commenting on groups? Sending invitations? Familiarise yourself with your market so that you can better advertise yourself to potential clients as a trustworthy, efficient option.
It probably shouldn’t be a surprise that many companies would rather hire a specialist referred to them by a trusted contact, so broaden your connections as much as possible.
Map out your business contacts
Make a list of every past professional contact you have, including all former associates, colleagues, and clients.
Connecting with them is a lot easier thanks to social media, and LinkedIn will probably be your best instrument. However, there are other platforms, as well. You should consider social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, or networking sites specific to your preferred countries.
Social networking isn’t just about advertising your skills and experience. Join in discussions, answer questions, write your own blog posts, or otherwise find ways to contribute to communities where you can connect with potential clients or contacts.
Instead of simply seeking out new connections, it’s also important to maintain existing relationships with past contacts.
Once you’ve laid the groundwork by researching your job prospects, potential clients, recruiters, and clarifying your goals and plans, you’re ready for the brass tacks of getting hired.
Perfecting your CV for contract work
Your CV is perhaps your most important means for securing a job in a new country.
A good CV is one that is attractive to both recruiters and employers
Your CV needs to speak to both recruiters and employers. However, recruiters may not understand a lot of the jargon specific to your industry, and they’re simply looking to match your skills with position description. Conversely, employers might want to see a little more technical detail about your experience and skills.
For more in-depth advice on writing your CV, check out our guide here.
Preparing yourself for interviews
Once you’ve showed recruiters and employers that you’re cut out for the job, you need to sell them on the kind of worker and person you are.
When you’re looking for work overseas, in-person meet-ups aren’t always feasible. If you don’t have much experience with alternate types of interviews, read over some information on phone interviews and Skype or video interviews.
Even for international work, in-person interviews still happen, so it’s a good idea to prepare by going over the job description, your experience, and information about the employer. Formulate a few likely responses in advance.
Regardless of the type of interview you’re doing, take a look at our advice on behavioural interviewing.
How to interact with recruiters
Recruiters are an integral piece of the puzzle for most international contractors. If you’re new to the recruiting world, we suggest taking a look at our guide to dealing with recruiters.
If you want further information on finding work in a new country, check out the rest of our job-seeking guide here.