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Avoiding Common Mistakes When Applying To Work Abroad


When deciding to work in another country, you’d like to imagine that the process is as simple as pie. That phrase is actually something which moved through languages over time, from Maori to English (pai is Maori for “good”) and had to jump through some hoops to have a new meaning. It is quite apt as anyone looking for a change of scenery could feel like they have to jump through hoops to qualify to work abroad.

In this short article, I want to highlight some of the key areas to take heed of if you’ve been toying with the idea of upping sticks for a new locale. A lot of advice here is from the fantastic folks at Odyssey Recruitment. They help people working in healthcare and medical find some amazing new roles everywhere from the UAE & Canada to Australia and New Zealand.

Even if moving away to work is something you’ve never considered before, here is advice which can steer you away from making the most common mistakes. It all starts with knowing what the deal with Visas will be.

The Visa Conundrum

In old-timey war movies, you’d often encounter a scene where the hero is stopped by a nefarious guard and asked for their papers. While visas thankfully don’t work like that anymore, visas are nothing short of a headache to figure out. Every country has different rules which need to be followed to the letter. Making simple mistakes in the process can snowball into bigger problems.

For example, I’m writing this in Ireland. As part of the EU, most people would think that someone living in an EU country can just up sticks and move wherever they like as part of free movement. Sadly that isn’t the case. Some countries will still want you to apply for the right to work there, and often having to do so in person. If you were moving somewhere completely new, say Croatia for example, you might have to find someone who can translate and bring them with you to do in-person registration.

It is something which can be worrying, but as always, knowing ahead of time is going to make everything run smoothly.

Your Upfront Costs

You’re moving to a new country for a new job, so why is your soon to be employer asking that you pay for flights ahead of time? And why might they ask that you pay for work uniforms or insurance?

Companies employing foreign staff are taking on someone they want to know will fit in easily. Sometimes that could mean they ask for you to pay for some things up front, which they will then reimburse. With regards to items like flights and uniforms, that’s fine enough. If they surprise you with something that looks eerily similar to an invoice for several items, consider it a red flag.

You may get some value from looking up the company online and seeing what their reviews are like for jobs sites in that country. A quick Google Translate can help you see if the company is above board or could be a problem to work for. Trust me when I say you don’t want to start your time in a new country working a nightmare of a company.

Ask about accommodation

If you’re lucky enough to be getting accommodation from your new employer or agency which has helped you find a new job, you should have no problems here. But if you’re going it alone, you’ll want to know as much about living in the country as possible. Quite surprisingly, the end of the job interview is usually the best time to ask.

It’s most likely you’ll be conducting interviews over Skype or Zoom, and when it gets to the eventual “have any questions” portion of the call, you’ll want to be seen as someone keen to work there. Asking basic questions surrounding work culture and what living in the area is like will help a lot. You’ll want to ask about local taxes, any surprise fees that those on the other end of the line will know about, and what living in the area is like.

Not only will it help humanise the video call, but it will help you stand out in an employer’s mind as someone who actively wants to be there, as you’re the only one who wants to know how things work.

Finally, always save more money than you think you need

So you’ve read up and found that you’ll need X amount of money for living in your new country from month to month. That concept will go right out the window for the first few weeks you’re living there. Consider the move like a holiday, where you will have to spend so much more on getting around, eating, essentials for your new home and everything else intertwined with a move.

If you start with a strict budget, you’re going to stress yourself out; not a great idea when moving hundreds or thousands of miles away from home. Just remember that moving abroad to work is all about planning and not acting on a whim.

Research is your friend, and companies which can cover those areas I’ve mentioned here are going to be a godsend.


Liz Westwood from UK on October 22, 2020:

You make some useful and interesting points in this helpful article.