June 7, 2010

Working Abroad in a Changing Economy: Tips for Working Overseas in Tough Economic Times

If you are visiting JobMonkey.com because you are just beginning your search for a job abroad, congratulations! You are about to embark on an exciting adventure in a foreign country.

Just beginning to search for an overseas job can be overwhelming, but there are plenty of resources to help you find the perfect job abroad.

It is impossible to turn on the news or open a newspaper without seeing warning signs about trouble in the world economy. We receive word from countries like Spain and Greece about austerity measures and near financial collapse. But the truth is that an uncertain economy should not keep you from looking for work opportunities in foreign countries. It does mean that you should think very carefully about all of the possibilities and issues that could arise in the country or position that you choose in economic terms – both your own personal economics, and those of the world.

1) Choose a country carefully: If you are looking for adventure, you might have a few places in mind. These could be cities, countries or even continents on which you’d like to focus your job search. If you are relatively open about where you want to work (and location matters more than the job itself), it might be a good idea to focus on some countries that are being hit as hard by the global financial crunch. While there aren’t any places that are completely immune to economic challenges, some are certainly stable than others. Consider Australia for far away lands and beach living – jobs in Australia can vary from esort staffing to farm work in the outback. Canada may not seem exotic, but working on your French conversation skills while working at a corner café could be the job abroad that you have been looking for.

2) Be aware of exchange rates: Many people who work abroad are paid in the local currency, while others are paid in US dollars (either because they are working for an American country abroad or for tax reasons). A fluctuating economy can have dramatic effects on the exchange rates – $500 US dollars may not go as far in the United Kingdom one month as it will the next. Unfortunately, changing the exchange rate probably isn’t something that is in your job description, but paying close attention to the financial news and planning accordingly can help you make the most of your budget while working abroad.

3) Don’t forget the logistics: Often times it’s the little things that get passed over when you are working abroad – things like renewing visas, buying airlines tickets and keeping track of your passports. While we’d like to keep an open mind and remain optimistic about working abroad, we also need to be realistic: in an uncertain economy, things can change very quickly. If for some reason you need to leave the country in which you are working, you should be prepared. Keep some emergency cash on hand, make sure that you always know where your passport is, and don’t let visas expire. That way you are ready for anything, should you need to hop on a plane, train or bus at the last minute.

4) Use the opportunity to learn: Anyone who is living in a foreign country should try to stay on top of the news – both local and international. Awareness of local politics and issues can enrich not only your cultural experience, but your work abroad experience as well.  Economic news can be very helpful as you are planning, for many of the reasons stated above. Often, financial and economic reporting contains great historical information that can give you some context about the country in which you are working. And don’t limit yourself to newspapers and typical online sources; check out blogs and twitter feeds written by locals…or go straight to the source! Engage some locals in friendly political conversation for a real taste of what’s going on in your country.

Changing economic conditions can be overwhelming, whether you are at home or abroad.  The news that we see everyday can be confusing, but remember that whether you are interested in finding a job abroad, or already working abroad and looking for resources, the best thing that you can do is stay informed. You are on the right track here at JobMonkey, so stay tuned for more blog posts about work and volunteering abroad.

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