Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start Working Abroad

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Before you begin working abroad there are a lot of questions that you must consider. Working abroad is much different than finding a job in your home country, and there are certain questions you must ask yourself before you begin.

These will be questions that help you to better narrow down your hunt. Do you want to break even or save money? Are there countries that you don’t want to work in? Specific types of companies you want to discover? All of these will influence the way that you have to search for a job abroad

ALL however, WILL teach you the type of thinking that you need. The mental approach. There is a pattern to asking the right questions – and that is understanding the perspective of the employer – many times we approach the job hunt from our own eyes, instead of trying to get into the mind of the employer

You are also asking yourself these questions just for YOU. So that you can have clarity with what you are looking for. You need to have a clear mission – if you’re all over the place you’re not going to make much progress.

Before you begin you need to be clear with what you want to do and why – be honest with what options you’re willing to look at vs the ones you don’t. You’re going to need to dive into your finances, long term strategy, family and more. You’re going to have to make tough decisions.

The quality of your questions is a reflection of the quality of your life – Tony Robbins

Ask the right questions before you get started so that you can avoid common mistakes.

Now into the actual questions!!!!

Why do you want to WORK abroad?

Why do you want to work abroad?

Do you have a story that supports this? Studied abroad? Been traveling from a young age? Never been outside of the country? Tell that story!!!!

A big part of applying to international jobs is storytelling. You have to create a narrative around your life. A story of who you are, what you know, and why you want to go to a new country right now.

A story that embodies the qualities that make you unique. A story that illustrates your values and what you bring to the table.

If your answer is “I want to travel”, you’re not working abroad for the right reasons. If you want to travel, go travel.

This is finding a job. This is finding employment. Something that is going to challenge you to learn and grow by getting outside of your comfort zone.

I saw too many English teachers in Korea who didn’t take their job seriously and complained that the job was too hard. They would get drunk every night and didn’t give a crap about the students they teach.

You are here to find WORK. If you’re not ready to do that, go backpacking around the world. Don’t waste the time of an employer because you want another passport stamp. We want the hustlers.

This part of the process is important so that you send the right message to employers. You want to have a story of craving an international business experience. One where you learn and grow by working with people from new countries and sharing ideas. We want to come up with as many examples of this as we can.

What country are you from?/What country(ies) do you hold a passport in?

You need to be realistic in your hunt so that you don’t waste time. If you’re from India, it’s unlikely you’re going to find a job in US/UK/EU – Stick to SE Asia and you have a better chance. OR get a remote job.

If you’re from the US and you don’t have a European passport, accept the harsh reality that working in Europe is going to be significantly more challenging. If you stick to other countries, mostly developing world, you will have a better chance at finding a good job that you can use as a stepping stone.

Like I mentioned earlier, developing countries have skill deficiencies, so you want to be able to play this to your advantage. If you do want to go to somewhere in Europe, be prepared to show why they need someone who is from your country.

If you ARE a multiple passport holder, or maybe you have a grandparent with a different heritage, you can play this to your advantage! You can apply to different countries or apply for a new passport altogether.

The underlying point here is to know where you stand. Have realistic expectations. Know where to spend your time.

I see a lot of Americans wasting time applying to jobs in Europe, and I’ve seen a lot of Indians wasting time applying to jobs in the US – don’t fall into these traps unless it’s the only option you’re willing to consider.

Note – If you’re thinking about working in India, make sure you have a Pan Card. You can get one of these from

What are you looking to SAVE on a monthly basis?

Work Abroad Salary Expectations

Not what are you looking to earn. What do you want to SAVE? (Related – See “Negotiating Salary Abroad”)

I say this because cost of living varies tremendously from country to country. The salary you get in the US will NOT transfer to SE Asia. If you’re from a developing country and think you’re going to make a lot of money just because you’re going to a developed country – you’re wrong.

Cost of living is what matters. Salaries SEEM high in the USA but that’s because cost of living is so high. The reality is that for most people, their salary only covers their cost of living.

I’m 28 years old, most of my friends have no savings whatsoever – many of them make over six figures.

SAVINGS however, does transfer. If you’re currently saving $500/month at your job, and you don’t know what salary to ask for, you can say “I currently save $500 per month. I’ve read that cost of living in this country is $2000 USD/month. This means I would like to make around $2500 USD/month.”

(savings) + (cost of living) = Desired Salary.

It’s that simple.

Once again though, this number is meant to give transparency to the EMPLOYER.

By saying to your employer, “here is what I currently save, cost of living in your city is, on average, X, so I am looking for a salary in the range of Y-Z”, you give them transparency into your reasoning.

This number also helps to give you clarity on the type of jobs you need to find. If you’re looking to save a nice chunk of change, teaching English or working for a startup probably isn’t going to do it for you. You will have to take a different approach.

If you don’t care about money, on the other hand you might sell yourself short. There’s no reason to dip into savings if you don’t need to.

When can you begin?

Understanding timelines and setting realistic expectations is the most important aspect of plotting a move internationally. Visas can sometimes take a month or longer, and there will always be things to trip up your path. Set realistic expectations so that you don’t have to back-track or reset 3-6 months from now.

Do your parents support your decision to work abroad?

I can’t tell you how many times we had someone get a job only to THEN go to their parents and tell them about it. “Hey mom and dad I just found a job in India can I go?!?! HELL NO

Don’t make this mistake. Talk to your parents about the decision to move abroad. Make sure that they support you in your decision process. I believe it’s very important to have them behind you in your efforts, and yields benefits for both your relationship and professional career

Do you have any strings attached to home that will prevent you from leaving?

Have a house you need to sell? Things you need to move to storage?

I’ve seen it all. Don’t wait until the last minute. Start making a plan now.

Do you have a spouse or significant other? If so, what will they do if/when you find a job?

Do you have a spouse? Work Abroad Barriers

If you have a girlfriend, and you both want to travel together, it becomes 2x as hard. Finding a job for one person is hard enough, finding it for two people becomes all the more challenging. Not that I discourage it, but it’s something you need to think about and consider. If one of you finds a job before the other, you’re going to have some tough decisions to make.

To give you another horror story we once had a girl accept a job and then leave the job within three months. Her boyfriend had recently accepted a job and was planned to move to Bangalore in 2 weeks. He put up radio silence on the company that was ALREADY PUTTING HIM THROUGH THE VISA PROCESS, and disappeared. The girl went traveling.

Do you have children?

I’ll be completely honest here, this isn’t something I have expertise on. Moving abroad with a full family is a completely different ballgame that I don’t have the ability to help with. Finding schools and making sure you have access to proper doctors is not something I personally feel that I can provide value on. I suggest websites like internations or transitionsabroad for things like this.

What is your current role? Do you want to keep this role, or transition into something new?

It’s an unfortunate reality, but the job you currently have will largely determine what type of job you will be able to go after in the future.

If you’re a software programmer or data analyst your road ahead will be pretty straight forwards. If you don’t have any real skills yet, or are fresh out of school it might be a little more difficult.

If you want to transition to something new you might have to take some online courses. You might need to spend some time learning skills in order to properly position yourself against the competition.

You will also want to think of the titles you need to search for. What are the titles you would be willing to apply to. Can you make a list of all the different varieties? Can you discover any new ones?

Think about your career trajectory in the future. Are you willing to stagnate your progress and work a bit below your skill level to get the job? Or do you only want to go after THE BEST job that you can find? What sacrifices are you willing to make? Ask these questions before so you’re not confused later on.

Are you open to working remotely and starting your own business?

Start your own business and work abroad

In today’s world remote working is becoming continually more popular. Rather than dealing with visa hassles, earn a living online and live wherever you want to in the world.

I can see why it became so popular so quickly. It’s a dream to live and work from anywhere you want to.

If you’re open to exploring this world, there’s a lot of good opportunities out there.

Upside? Lots of jobs, lots of flexibility.

Downside? Need a lot of experience, or jobs that require absolutely no experience. Not much of a middle ground.

A lot of the remote jobs also require you to be living in a specific country or on a specific time zone as well. Kind of defeats the purpose of remote working if you ask me…

If you’re also open to starting your own business, there’s a lot of opportunities out there. If this seems like it’s up your alley, make sure that you invest in a great HR software, such as Cezanne HR Software.

Do you have a budget of money you are willing to invest in yourself? How much?

There are a lot of tools that you can use to amplify your results. Tools such as CRM’s, resume builders, automatic email follow-ups, data scrapers, bots that add people on linkedin, and more. If you’re willing to throw down some money, it can take a lot of the work off your hands so you can focus on the more important things.

You can also use Virtual Assistants to do everything for you. Literally EVERYTHING. Or all of the most important things. If you take a methodical approach, you can get VA’s to handle a lot of the grunt work associated with trying to find a job. They can discover companies for you, crack email addresses, send out cold emails, provide you with analytics, you name it. If you’re willing to, they can prove to be an incredibly valuable tool.

Are you willing to work your ass off?

Work your ass off if you want to work abroad

This is not easy work. It’s a hustle. In many ways it’s like starting a business. You’re going to have to cold reach out to 100’s of people and play the numbers game. You’re going to have to look at the data and analyze what works and what didn’t. You’re going to revise your resume over and over. EVERYTHING is always a work in progress. You need to be willing to put in the work. If you’re not, you can go home now. There are no easy solutions.

It will be difficult. I will say this again. It will be difficult. If you want to make your dreams a reality, you will have to work hard to make it happen.

If you’re from an emerging market country like India, Philppines, Nigeria, or Kenya you will have to hustle 2x as hard and be 5x as meticulous and detail oriented in your hunt. It won’t be easy, but with persistence you can make it happen.

Like all things in life, if there’s a will, there’s a way. Sounds cliche but its always true. If you want to get a job abroad, you better be ready to hustle.

You should treat your hunt as a full time job, giving yourself every opportunity possible to better prepare yourself for the move ahead. The more you embody the transition, and believe you will be in a foreign country x months from now, the more likely it will be to come true.

Live it, breathe it, commit to it. Hustle hard to make it happen, and don’t get discouraged at bumps in the road.

Note: Background checks always help in the event that you find a job. Especially if you are thinking about being a teacher or carer make sure you have gone through all of the appropriate checks, Clear Check is a great option to help you get all of the proper checks you will need.

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