We live in a global economy. Everything relates to everything, and you can get to any place on Earth in a matter of hours, or in a worst case in a matter of few days.

Getting somewhere, however, does not equal to finding a job and starting a new life abroad. In this article we will have a look at few crucial things you have to do right, if you want to reach your goal and start working overseas.

The guide is intended primarily for people who look for basic jobs (waitress, care giver, construction worker), and manual labor in the fields and woods (picking berries, tree planting, cutting woods, etc). But you will find some information helpful even when you want to work as a doctor or as a programmer in a foreign country. Enjoy!

Two women are exploring ways of getting an overseas job

First step: Pick a suitable country

Before you can do anything else, you should choose your future place of work. To the most popular countries for overseas jobs belong Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, UAE, Scandinavian countries, or beautiful island destinations in Mediterranean and Caribbean.

You should consider many things before making your choice:

  • The economic situation in the country. Are they experiencing growth, or did the economy fall in recession? Obviously if recession rules the local economy, and native people do not have jobs, it makes no sense to try to get a job there.
  • The political situation, and attitude to economic migration. Is the government supportive to foreign workers? And what about the public? Did they respect the foreigners? Typically you can find statistics of migration for each country, and this should give you a good idea about your chances.
  • Difficulty of getting visa, and working legally. This depends a lot on your country of origin, but also on the host country. Can you get working visa for three months, half a year, or even one year? And do you need a working contract first, to have a chance to apply for the visa? Countries are obliged to publish this information online, and you can find it (for each country), doing a simple Google search.
  • Cultural and religious situation at the place. Life is not only work. You will also live, make connections and interact with other people. It is crucial for you to understand the attitude the host country has to your religion, as well as whether you will be able to adapt to the way they live in the country. Remember that you are a foreigner, and you will have to adapt. The local population won’t change their habits just because you arrive…


Second step: Pick a job you want to have

To make your search effective, you should know what you want to do. At least you should know the broad field (farming, construction work, catering, etc), because you can’t look for jobs unless you know the names of these jobs

Once again, there are several things to consider:

  • Whether such jobs are available for foreigners in your country of choice. Each popular destination offers different options. Scandinavia is great for work in the fields and woods, Dubai always need new construction workers, Germany always hire some cruise-ship staff, and Mediterranean island are full of opportunities in catering services.
  • Whether you will enjoy doing the job (at least somehow). Obviously we travel abroad to make money–that’s the primary goal. But life is not only about earning money, and you should at least somehow enjoy the job, and see some purpose in it… If you like boats, go for cruise ship job. If you love to be outside, try to get a job as a fruit picker. We spend a lot of our time on Earth working, and it makes no sense to have a job which you hate…
  • Whether you have a realistic chance of getting the job. Think about your life situation, education, and experience. It would be nice to work in a five star hotel in the Caribbean, but without good knowledge of  Spanish and English you do not really have a chance…. But not all jobs require language skills. You can work in the fields or even in some factories, speaking only few worlds of English (or any other world language).

woman sweeps the floor and she si smiling

Step three: Apply for the job (basic options explained)

Once you know where you want to work, what are the legal requirements, and what job you want to have, it is time to finally apply. You have several options here, and I will list them in order from a best one (in terms of money), to the worst one.

Keep in mind, however, that the worst way of applying (in terms of money you will finally get each month) is the easiest one, and in some countries it may even be the only option, given your current life situation. Check all options and then decide which one suits your current situation…


Applying directly with the employer, on their website.

Ten years ago this option worked only for farming jobs. You found the website of the farm, wrote the owner, and they replied that you could come and work. Nowadays, however, many companies struggle with employees, and they desperately try all possible recruiting channels. Do some Google searches and try to locate the offers.

This option is the most cost-effective, becasue you do not have to pay any fees to the agencies, and you will keep your entire salary. Bear in mind, however, that unless you know the language, and can handle your visas independently, it will be nearly impossible to follow this way.


Applying on a foreign job board

You probably know some job boards in your country, where companies advertise vacancies in your native language. You should know that various companies run similar websites in virtually every country of the world. And there is no reason why you could not benefit from the services they offer–which are nearly always free of charge for job seekers.

While in the past your application would be rejected almost immediately, since companies had many application from their citizens, and would not bother with the bureaucracy connected to employing a foreigner, the situation differs right now.

Some jobs attract little to none applications (especially in countries with low unemployment rate), and employers will consider each application.

Give ti a shot. Register with one or two job boards in your chosen country, and submit a few applications. It takes little time and you have nothing to lose.

Interview in a recruitment agency

Applying with the recruitment agency, in your destination country

Virtually in each developed country of the world you will find several agencies that specialize in recruiting foreigners for their clients–the local employers.

These agencies have often their branches, or at least point of contacts, in sourcing countries. For example, an Italian recruitment agency may have branches in Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, etc.

And for sure some agencies are based also in your country (or have their subsidiaries in place). Applying with an agency has some advantages. They have the contacts with the employers, they will help a lot with the visa application, you do not need to know the language to apply (they may even provide language courses), etc.

The biggest drawback, however, is that they will take some money from you–either immediately, or each month. Let me explain the three types of agencies that can help you getting a job overseas, once again from the best option to the worst option:

  • Agencies that get paid a one time recruitment fee from the employer.  You pay only small administration fee for helping with visa application and related stuff. This is by far the best option for you in terms of agency recruitment, but such agencies are active mostly in the market of specialist and engineering jobs (think doctors, programmers, engineers), since companies are willing  pay a big enough fee for these professionals (in thousands of dollars) and it is worth for the agency to run the business model.
  • Agencies where you will pay a one time fee–which ranges from few hundreds to one or two thousand dollars. When employers are not willing to pay the agency, you will have to pay. Though this is forbidden in some countries, the practice is still alive on all continents. The agency will arrange a job for you, they will arrange the visa and everything, but you will have to pay them. Then, once you start the job, you keep the entire salary and it is you who deals with the employer. Agency does not back you up anymore, their job is finished when you start to work.
  • Agencies that take a cut from your salary each month. This is by far the most popular model nowadays, since it is most profitable from the companies. But it is by far the worst model for you. Example: You work in an automotive factory in Germany, behind an assembly line. But formally you are employed in an agency (the one that arranged the work). The employer is paying 2,800 euro for your labor, but the agency gets the money. They pay the government tax, social securities and everything, then they take a big cut for themselves, and at the end you get only 1,200 euro each month

As you can see, agencies vary a lot, and you should clearly inform yourself of their business model, and how much they plan to take from you (before arranging the work and then during the duration of your contract).


Applying with an agency in your home country

In my experience this is the worst option. Most local agencies are affiliated with foreign agencies. The more links in the chain, the more money you will eventually lose.

Let me explain. You apply with a local agency in your country, let’s call it Agency A. This agency has a foreign partner in Canada, a small Agency B, which is a subsidiary to a big Canadian staffing agency, let’s call it Agency C. It is Agency C who has the contract with the employer.

So now what happens:

  • You will have to pay a fee to Agency A, since they get no money from the employer (they do not even have contract with them). This fee may be quite high, since often they will share it with Agency B.
  • Your final work contract will be with Agency C, who will take a cut from your salary each month…

I hope you understand that this option is the worst one for you, not only becasue you will lose a lot of money. It is bad also becasue once there are many links in a chain, things can easily get wrong.

For example, Agency C loses their contract with the employer, or they have many applications from other partner agencies (Agencies B level) and eventually won’t even hire you.

The agency you are in contact with (Agency A in your country) may not even know about the situation, and they have very little power to influence them, to help you. Therefor it may happen that you pay big fee to the agencies, and end up empty handed, and without job…

(Note: I ran recruitment agency for four years, and have seen all these situations. They realistically happen and you should be careful.)

Man is very nervous on a call with an employer

Final thoughts and recommendations

Though I do not recommend you applying for an overseas job with a recruitment agency based in your country, it can sometimes be your only option.

Employment market works differently in each country, as well as regulations and laws. This website receives visitors from 200+ countries, and I can not go into details of the situation in each country. Therefore I suggest the following:

  • Check all options, starting from the best one (applying directly with the employer overseas).
  • Give it some time, and if it doesn’t pan out, move to the second option.
  • Applying with a local agency should be your last option, but when you do not know the language or live in a strongly-regulated economy, it may as well the the only one.
  • If you apply with a local agency, inform yourself beforehand about their contract with the employer (or another agency), and how much money they will cut from your monthly salary.


Beware of scams and frauds

Regretfully, many criminals take advantage of poor people. Modern day slavery exists even in the most developed parts of the world, and you should verify each agency before traveling abroad.

Call the police or the foreign ministry, check online whether the place where they send you (the name of the employer, the business address) really exists. Precaution is extremely important in this case.

A rule of thumb to remember: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If someone promises you an easy job abroad and excellent payment, or if you can travel five days after the initial contact with the agency, something is probably not right…

Be careful, verify the information, and do not pay anyone or go anywhere, unless you are sure of your safety, and the accuracy of their offer.

That’s it. Follow the guide, step by step, and hopefully you find yourself with a good job overseas soon. I wish you good luck!


May also interest you:

  • Get a job on a cruise ship – A wonderful but tough job that allows you to sail the seas and get to know new places (in rare moments when you do not have to wipe the floor or clean the cabins). A step by step guide on how to get hired for this job.
  • Get a job with no experience – If you have no previous working experience, you can still land a decent job. You just have to know how to turn your disadvantage (lack of experience) to an advantage in an interview.
  • Interview preparation guide – Everything you need to know to prepare for your interview with an employer, or with the agency.

Matthew Chulaw
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