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  • Writer's pictureMatilda

Unlock Your Global Career: Insider Tips from HR Professionals

Updated: Nov 18, 2023

Dreaming of having a global career? Advancing your career abroad has never been more enticing, with a world of opportunities waiting for you to explore. Sure, as a foreigner, standing out in a new, unfamiliar, and competitive job market may be challenging. But it's not impossible. Ana and I have been there and done it ourselves. We both built international careers in HR, and we've helped numerous clients do the same. And we know that this exciting move is absolutely possible for you too.

Drawing from our experiences as expats and HR professionals, we've put together a list of proven insider HR tips to help you start and grow a successful global career.

From preparing for the move to job searching and adapting to cultural differences, we're here to help you navigate the journey.

While you're here, you may also be interested in:

Preparing to Work Abroad

The idea of immersing yourself in a new culture, meeting new people, and advancing your career is undoubtedly alluring. But, the process of preparing to work abroad requires proper planning, research, and organization.

Let's go over some tips and tricks to help you prepare for your international career journey.

Research the country and culture

Before you head abroad, it’s essential to research the country and culture you’ll be living and working in. Understanding cultural norms, values, and etiquette is crucial to avoid any misunderstandings and ensure a smooth transition. Research the country’s history, politics, economy, and social customs to familiarize yourself with your new home.

Maps with passport and a heart-shaped rock.

Check out these cool and helpful resources for researching your destination:

Not sure where you'd like to move yet? Find your dream location in this list of top 10 European countries for expat women.

Secure necessary documents and visas

The biggest frustration-inducing challenge for expats? Documentation and bureaucracy. Yet, they are unavoidable and crucial for a smooth transition. In fact, securing the necessary documents and visas is the most crucial part of preparing to work abroad. Depending on your destination, you may need a work permit, residency permit, or visa to legally work and reside in the country. It’s essential to research the visa requirements for your destination and apply for the necessary visas well before your departure.

Brown passport and a toy plane on wooden floor.

Looking for more information on visas? Find them here:

Consider your finances

Now, let's talk about the practical, financial side of the move.

Living and working abroad can be expensive, and it’s essential to consider your finances before taking the leap. Research the cost of living in your destination and create a budget to ensure you can afford the basics. Consider your salary, taxes, insurance, and any other expenses that may arise. Researching banking and currency exchange options is essential to make money management easier.

Savings tracker with notes on wooden floor.

Photo by Bich Tran

To plan your finances, you need to know the cost of living in your target destination. Find this information and compare it to your current costs of living here:

Learn the language

There's nothing quite like knowing the local language to ease your transition into a new country.

Learning the language of your destination can help you connect with the local community, understand cultural nuances, and make your transition smoother. Even knowing just a few basic phrases can help a lot. Even though I didn't speak much Polish for four years while living there, saying "Dziękuję" (thank you), "Nie mówię bardzo dobrze po polsku" (I don't speak Polish very well), and "Proszie tylko odrost" (only roots, please), saved me and my hair on numerous occasions. Consider taking language courses before you leave or upon arrival. There are also many language-learning apps and resources available to help you improve your language skills.

Notebook with notes in a foreign language and a cup of coffee.

Photo by Leeloo Thefirst

Want to start learning the local language? Head here:

Follow these tips and tricks to properly prepare for your international career journey and make the most of your experience abroad.

Applying for Jobs Abroad: Tips and Tricks

Whether you’re looking for a fresh start or a new career challenge, there are several things to consider and do before applying for a job abroad.

Here are some HR tips and tricks to help you prepare for your international job search.

Research the work culture

Before applying for a job abroad, research the work culture of the country you’re interested in. Find out more about best practices in business communication.

This will help you understand the work environment, expectations, local customs, and etiquette. You can find valuable information on the internet, in books, and by talking to people who have lived or worked in the country.

These resources are a great place to start:

  • Hofstede Insights provides in-depth cultural analysis and comparison between different countries

  • Commisceo Global offers cultural training and resources for businesses and individuals

  • Global Affairs Canada provides information on different countries and their cultures, customs, and business practices

Learn about the language spoken in the country and the level of proficiency required for the job you're targeting. Some countries may require fluency in their native language for certain positions, while others may prefer bilingual or multilingual candidates.

Career newsletter banner.

Update your resume and cover letter

Your resume and cover letter are the first impressions potential employers will have of you. And when you're applying for jobs abroad, they need to be nothing short of perfect.

Tailor your application materials to the specific job you’re applying for, as well as to the cultural norms of the country.

Highlight your relevant skills and experience, and emphasize your ability to adapt to a new environment. Use keywords that are commonly used in the industry and the country, and avoid using slang or jargon that may not be understood.

Want to be 100% sure your resume will help you land a job abroad? Check out these 5 key tips for creating a perfect expat resume.

Network and use social media

Networking is essential in any job search and even more critical when looking for a job abroad. Here's how to network as an expat:

  • Reach out to professionals in your field who have worked or are currently working in the country you’re interested in and ask for their advice and insights.

  • Attend networking events, conferences, and job fairs, both online and in person.

  • Use social media to your advantage. LinkedIn is an excellent platform to connect with professionals worldwide and showcase your skills and experience.

Be prepared for interviews

Interviews and negotiations for jobs abroad may differ from those in your home country. So, learn about the typical questions and expectations. Also, research the company’s hiring process.

Woman using laptop and taking notes on notebook.

Photo by Ivan Samkov

Be prepared to discuss your experience working with diverse teams and adapting to new cultures.

And you can be sure that the interviewers will be curious about your motivation to move.

Ana and I have interviewed over 2,000 candidates. Whenever someone applied for a job abroad, we asked about their reasons to understand why they've picked this specific location, company, and job. It was a must-have question. So, you can expect the interviewers to ask you, "Why do you want to work abroad?" or some variation of it, so make sure to prepare a strong answer to this question.

Navigate negotiations

Research the local compensation and benefits package, and be prepared to negotiate your salary and other benefits. Remember that the cost of living and taxes will differ from those in your home country.

By following these tips and tricks, you can increase your chances of finding a rewarding job abroad that aligns with your career goals and aspirations.

Interviewing for Jobs Abroad

Interviewing is never easy. However, interviewing for a job abroad makes this job search hurdle even more complex.

Let's go through HR tips and tricks to help you prepare for your interview for a job abroad.

Prepare for cultural differences

When applying for a job abroad, remember that there may be cultural differences. These differences can impact how the interview is conducted, so it's important to prepare accordingly.

An international group of people standing.

Photo by fauxels

For instance, in some cultures, it's better to maintain a more formal and reserved demeanor, while in others, a warmer and more expressive approach is appreciated.

Additionally, the level of directness and assertiveness in communication can vary across cultures, influencing how questions are asked and answered.

Awareness of these differences is key to navigating interviews successfully and demonstrating cultural sensitivity and adaptability.

Brush up on your language skills

If the job requires you to speak a language other than your native language, brush up on your language skills before the interview.

Even if the job doesn't require you to be fluent in the local language, showing that you've made an effort to learn the basics, like greeting or saying thank you, can go a long way.

Some great resources for language learning are Duolingo and Rosetta Stone.

Be prepared for technical difficulties

When interviewing online for a job abroad, technical difficulties can occur. This can include issues with video conferencing software or poor internet connection. Prepare a backup plan in case these issues arise.

Young woman using laptop looking troubled.

Have a backup device with you, such as a phone or tablet, and have a backup plan for internet access, such as a mobile hotspot or a nearby café with Wi-Fi.

Follow up after the interview

Common courtesy is appreciated everywhere.

So, after the interview, follow up with the interviewer to thank them for their time and express your continued interest in the position.

Person typing on Macbook.

Photo by Burst

Send a thank-you email within 24 hours of the interview. This will show the interviewer that you're serious about the position and appreciate their time.

Don't know what to say? Get the Emails That Get You Hired ebook with 30+ word-for-word job search email templates for every step of your job search journey.

Navigating Cultural Differences

When it comes to advancing your career abroad, navigating cultural differences can be a challenging but rewarding experience. Understanding and adapting to a new culture can help you build strong relationships with colleagues, clients, and partners and can even open up new opportunities for growth and development.

Do your research

Again, it all comes down to research. Learn as much as possible about your destination country, its culture, customs, and business practices. This will help you avoid any cultural faux pas and show your colleagues and friends that you respect their way of life.

Be observant

Observe and learn from your surroundings.

Take note of how your colleagues and partners interact with each other, how they communicate, and how they approach business and work. This will help you understand their cultural norms and expectations and can help you adjust your own behavior accordingly.

Colleagues sitting around table in an office.

Communicate clearly

Clear communication is key when working across cultures. Be aware of potential language barriers and try to communicate in a way that is easy to understand.

Avoid using idioms or slang that may be unfamiliar to your colleagues or partners, and be patient if you need to clarify something or ask for clarification yourself.

Be open-minded

Finally, approach your experience with an open mind.

Try new things, explore your new location and culture, embrace the differences you encounter, and try to learn from them. This can help you build strong relationships, gain new perspectives, and ultimately advance your career abroad and build a fulfilling life.

Young woman standing beside wheat field.

Photo by Donald Tong

Key Takeaways

Landing a job and building a career abroad opens up a world of opportunities and experiences. Follow these HR tips to make this transition smoother and more successful.

  • Start by researching your desired location, culture, and local job market.

  • Network with professionals in your field and develop essential skills to stand out as a candidate.

  • Tailor your job application, including your resume and cover letter, to the local standards and best practices.

  • Prepare for interviews by learning about the company culture and practicing responses to common questions.

  • Learn the common compensation and benefits package in your new location and prepare yourself for negotiations.

  • Finally, embrace the new environment and culture with an open mind and a positive attitude.

Implement these tips and tricks, and you'll be able to grow a global career and thrive in the international market.

What's Next?

Two female career coaches. Cutout headshots on purple background.

Matilda Patsou & Ana Colak-Fustin

Matilda and Ana, the founders of MoreThanCareers, are expats, international corporate recruiters, and HR professionals with 18+ years of combined HR experience. Since 2018, our career-building techniques, tools, and resources have helped over 500 coaching clients and 8,000 individuals worldwide land new, more fulfilling, higher-paying, career-changing jobs.

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