Finding a job abroad after college involves more than just booking a plane ticket to your dream destination and setting sail.
Your to-do list will include researching international markets, applying to jobs, drafting a worldly resume, nailing your interview, and figuring out the logistics required for a successful move.
Fortunately, the global job market continues to expand across borders in areas such as technology, marketing, sales, and education, and there are more resources to help you get a job overseas upon graduation than ever before.
Use the following resources to take your best shot at working abroad after college.
International Jobs for College Graduates
Before you send your first resume, you’ll need to consider what kind of job you’re looking to land. Are you planning on relocating for a few months or a few years? Do you want to travel regularly or stay in one location for an extended period?
Some recent graduates want to jump into their field of study, while others want to work abroad for the sake of seeing the world.
Whatever your goal is, you have options to make your dream a reality.
Short-Term & Seasonal Jobs Abroad
Short-term and seasonal jobs abroad are your ticket to get out of your home country for a spell before landing a job in your chosen industry.
Popular short-term jobs abroad include:
- Being an au pair
- Teaching English as a second language
- Working at a lodge or hotel for a season
Au Pair Jobs
Au pairs provide childcare and help with housework in exchange for housing or a small stipend.
Au pairs are typically matched with a well-to-do family that needs a live-in babysitter. Your job duties may include babysitting, taking children on short trips, and some cooking and cleaning.
You may even get weekends off to explore the country!
Explore these job boards to find work as an au pair:
- Au Pair World - Matches au pairs with families internationally
- EurAuPair – Matches you with a European family
English Teaching Jobs
For most TEFL jobs, you’ll need to become certified. Your schedule, pay, and housing will depend on the program with which you work. Be sure to research each program carefully to find out how much commission is taken from your paycheck.
Link up with these employers to find work teaching English as a second language:
- Hess Education - Teach English to kids in Taiwan
- Premier TEFL – Teach children in Thailand
- Maximo Nivel – Find opportunities in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) grant to citizens or nationals of the U.S. who are graduating seniors, recent bachelor’s-degree recipients, master’s candidates, doctoral candidates, or young professionals. You don’t need to be certified for this opportunity, but you do need to meet these eligibility requirements.
Tourism & Hospitality Jobs
Some of the most beautiful parts of the world naturally have large tourist industries. You can find work in the tourism industry cleaning, cooking, or working in customer service at resorts, hotels, and lodges.
Jobs often require 40 hours per week. Duties range from cleaning rooms to night auditing to driving. These types of jobs typically don’t require special skills.
Check out these job boards for seasonal and short-term work abroad in the tourism industry:
- GoAbroad – Find tourism-related jobs abroad
- TransitionsAbroad – Find tourism and travel-related jobs overseas
Regular, Long-Term Jobs Abroad
It’s not impossible to find a long-term job in your chosen field abroad, but it may require more time and effort. Use the tips and resources below to increase your chances of finding long-term work in your desired field.
Figure Out Where You Want to Go
Because you’ll be looking for jobs in a global industry, you have the luxury of choosing from among your favorite locations.
Once you decide where you’d like to live, start learning the language. Take a class or use a language learning tool like Duolingo. Having some knowledge of the language will give you competitive-edge and a marketable skill.
Make a List of Foreign Companies Related to Your Industry
No matter where you’re applying for a job, it’s always important to be familiar with the company before sending out a resume.
Look for large companies in your field that are based out of your desired location. Find them on LinkedIn and follow them. Review their ratings on Glassdoor. Reach out to current or past employees for informational interviews to help you make some connections before you arrive.
Settle for Entry-Level Employment
Yes, the high life would have you jet setting around the globe making a million dollars a year. But as a recent college graduate—and a foreign one at that—it’s important that you set realistic expectations.
By seeking entry-level employment, you’ll have the opportunity to gain foundational experience in your field and work your way up the ladder.
See What’s Available
Use the following resources to search for jobs and learn more from the expat community:
- EasyExpat – Classified job listings and tips from expats
- Working Abroad – International jobs for college graduates by continent
Remote Work for Traveling Abroad
There are more opportunities than ever before to work remotely while traveling abroad after college. If you recently earned a degree in marketing, journalism, software development, or graphic design, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding work online.
There are two routes to go down as a digital nomad:
- Working as a Freelancer – A freelancer is self-employed. You’d be responsible for your own taxes, equipment, customer service, and billing. However, you’d have the ultimate freedom to travel wherever and whenever you want.
- Finding a Remote Job – Remote work is like in-office employment. You’d have a supervisor and set tasks. Many remote jobs require you to be available during set hours of the day, which could be tricky if you were in a different time zone. However, the pay would be reliable, and you wouldn’t have to worry about self-employment tax or finding regular work.
Use these resources to get started freelancing or working remotely today:
- Upwork – This expansive freelance platform allows you to connect with small and large clients
- Freelancer – Find clients and gigs with the potential to turn into long-term working relationships
- Guru – Win contracts for jobs such as website development, writing, marketing, and graphic design
- Remote.Co – Search hundreds of international and remote jobs
Internships & Volunteer Opportunities Abroad
One of the best ways to get on the ground floor of your industry is to find an internship abroad. Internships provide real world experience in your field. They’re also easier to obtain than a full-time job.
You can find internships using resources you have on hand as a recent college graduate. Your college or university's online job or internship board is the first place you should look. You can also book time to meet with someone in your career services office. He or she may be able to direct you to companies currently looking to hire interns.
Next, startups are always looking for interns and may offer the opportunity to get more experience than corporate internships. Angel List, Internships, and BuiltIn all list internships available to college students and recent graduates.
Is Working Abroad After College Right for You?
Leaving home immediately after graduating isn’t the best option for everyone. There are pros and cons to finding work abroad after college. At the end of the day, only you can make the decision about what’s best for you.
Here are some pros and cons to consider:
Pros of Getting a Job Overseas After College
- Gain invaluable life experience, exposure to new cultures, and the experience of a different type of corporate environment—all of which will enrich your perspective
- Explore job markets that may be less saturated than those in your home country
- Gain international experience that could put you on the cutting edge
- Learn marketable skills like a new language or how to navigate communication barriers
- Save money by living and working in a low-cost-of-living location
- Learn how to be successful in the global economy
Cons of Getting a Job Overseas After College
- You may experience culture shock and potential communication barriers
- You may struggle to adjust to a new work environment and professional culture
- You may become homesick
- A low-cost-of-living could translate to a lower pay rate
- If you’re a U.S. citizen, you won’t get U.S. benefits if you suddenly become unemployed
- Healthcare may not align with the standards you’re accustomed to
Learn how to navigate culture shock during your stay abroad.
Tips for Finding and Landing a Job Abroad After College
You’ll find that landing work abroad after college is similar around the world. Employers want to know they’re making a wise investment by hiring you.
Here’s how to put your best foot forward, wherever that may be.
Preparing Your Resume for an International Employer
Standards for resumes vary widely, so you’ll likely have to revamp your current version to appeal to companies in other countries. For example, a photo and personal information might not be considered relevant in the U.S., but are standard in many places outside the U.S., writes Elaina Giolando for Go Overseas.
Generally, the global standard is a two-page resume that includes the following:
- Some personal information
- Details and GPA for secondary and university-level education
- Bulleted sections about work experience
- A summary of technical and language skills
- A professionally done photo
To prepare for varying foreign requirements, Giolando further recommends drafting a four-to-five-page “master" resume that you can tailor to individual jobs and countries.
Remember that your cover letter and resume make up the first impression a potential employer has of you.
Here are some tips to help you “wow” them with these documents:
- Keep It Relevant: While including all your work experience on your resume may seem like a great idea, you want to stick to only the most relevant information. Tailor the content of your resume to the job and its requirements.
For example, if you’re applying for a development role with a non-profit, focus on your internship with a non-profit and not your baby-sitting experience from high school.
- Do Not Exaggerate: You have probably been told that you need to “beef up” your resume in order to appeal to an employer. However, if you over-exaggerate or lie on your resume, you most likely will be caught and taint your reputation with that company forever.
- List Your Skills: List your skills so potential employers know where you excel and where you might require training. Include your familiarity with computer programs (Photoshop, InDesign, etc.), foreign languages, and any other skills applicable to the job. You especially want to highlight any skills that overlap with the requirements of the job you’re applying for.
- Sell Your Honors and Awards: Because you’ve only recently graduated, you may not have any professional awards or honors. Instead, list any academic awards you received while you were in school.
Cover Letter Tips
- Refer to the Open Position: Because there’s a good chance that whoever is reading job applications is also reading a lot of cover letters, you need to be specific and name the position for which you’re applying.
- Explain Why You Are the Best Candidate: While introducing yourself in your cover letter, you need to make it clear why you are the best candidate for the job. To do this, you need to explain how you meet and exceed the qualifications required for the position.
- Refer to Specific and Relevant Work Experiences: Use your relevant work experience to support your assertion that you are the best candidate for the job. Refer to specific projects you undertook and list positive outcomes from those projects or initiatives.
Not only will this demonstrate your viability as a candidate, but it will also show your potential employer that you know how to organize your thoughts and craft a compelling argument.
Nervous about your Skype or phone interview? See 8 tips to help you make a good impression!
Be Prepared to Navigate the Process
Take these additional steps to prepare for the unexpected as you embark on your international career:
- Check Visa & Paperwork Requirements: Check with the Department of Immigration of the country where you plan to work or reach out to the nearest embassy or consulate for that country. If you’re a U.S. citizen, visit the U.S. Department of State's Americans Traveling Abroad microsite for information about each country's entry and visa requirements. Your new employer may also be a good source of advice.
- Calculate the Cost of Living: Websites such as Expatistan provide calculators to compare the cost of living where you currently live to places you're considering moving.
- Get Health Insurance: Atlas Travel medical insurance is a customizable plan that can provide coverage for hospitalizations and medical emergencies during short-term assignments abroad.