Ask LH: How Can I Find A Job Overseas?

Ask LH: How Can I Find A Job Overseas?

Dear Lifehacker, I just got back from spending four weeks in Europe, my first time overseas. It was an amazing experience and I don’t quite understand why anyone would move from Europe to Australia. What is the best way for an Australian to go about looking for employment in Europe and the UK? Thanks, Fresh Europhile

Plane picture from Shutterstock

Dear FE,

It’s wonderful that you enjoyed your trip, but I’d feel slack if I didn’t start off by pointing out that the experience of a country when you’re visiting on holidays is not the same as living and working there full-time. As our own Elly Hart can tell you, there are aspects of life in Australia that you may not appreciate until you’re living somewhere else. That’s not to say that spending time working overseas isn’t a great idea; it’s just worth remembering that it won’t always be as rosy as your current happy memories.

Despite the existence of the European Union, individual countries within Europe generally have their own specific rules regarding whether foreigners can work overseas. Assuming you don’t already have a passport for an EU member country, you’re going to need a working visa, which isn’t always easy to obtain. The rules vary depending which country you’re aiming for, so you probably need to pick a target country before proceeding.

The UK is a likely choice, if only because you won’t have language issues. The conditions under which you can score a working visa for the UK are quite strict. You can see detailed information on the UK Home Office site, but it boils down to three main possibilities:

  • If you have at least one grandparent who was born in the UK, you can apply for work there.
  • Find an employer who is willing to sponsor you for a role that can’t be filled by a local. Obviously that depends on your qualifications and experience, as well as the willingness of an employer to sponsor you.
  • If you’re under 31, you can apply under the Youth Mobility Scheme for a temporary visa. You need to have at least £1800 saved up before doing this, and your stay is limited to 24 months.

If you’re young enough, the Youth Mobility Scheme is definitely your best bet, though it won’t let you stay permanently. Otherwise, sponsorship is your only choice, and you’ll have to hunt through UK job listings. Note that many positions specify quite explicitly that sponsorship isn’t an option.

Good luck! If readers who have worked in other European countries have additional tips, we’d love to see them in the comments.

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • I just received my UK Ancestry Visa in the mail today – It was a gruelling and stressful process to obtain it…

      • It was a great feeling when I got the email confirming it’s approval; especially after the months of research and collecting documents to make sure I covered every possible base in the application…

        • Congratulations ! It was the same great feeling when the Australian Immi advised me that my visa was approved for Australia (I’m originally from France)

    • Grats! I wish my ancestors hadn’t been out here for 3 or 4 generations. I would love to be able to get an ancestry passport/visa for the UK.

  • Don’t mean to knit pick but you didn’t really answer the readers question here, He wants to know the best way in getting employment overseas. I know gaining a working visa is important, but what about actually approaching an overseas employer/recruiter? Are there any tips to do this? Has anyone here been successful in applying for overseas work while in Oz? I am also interested in making a move to the states.

    • I completely agree. If you are looking for a job overseas, the visa information is important, but how do you actually find a job? Is it better to look at local job boards in the country? Are international recruiters the way to go (and if so, what are some good ones). Or do you need to be on the ground to make it happen?

      • It probably depends on what industry you’re in. Does yours have some form of centralised, popular employment hub or publication (probably online these days) in that country? If so, going through that would probably be a reasonable bet to start with. After that, there’s no harm in directly emailing the HR depts of companies you want to work for and would want to employ you.

        The UK and much of Europe are used to immigration for work so any decent sized employer would expect to receive overseas applicants.

        Getting the job should be the priority as the immigration stuff is just a (tedious) formality.

        A major hassle is that employers in EU countries are obliged to give preference to people with an EU passport.

        • A major hassle is that employers in EU countries are obliged to give preference to people with an EU passport.

          Not different from Australian requirements, both have to assess domestic applicants against foreigners and must not give preference to the latter, if their level of qualification is comparable.

          The difference is that the Australian job market is massively short on skilled workers outside of urban centres, whereas the European market, with a few regional exceptions, is not. Generally the level of qualification in Europe is significantly higher than in Australia across the board, many more people hold degrees or trade qualifications. Unskilled labor, still a common sight in Australia, is an unusual affair in most parts of Europe. In Australia competition for jobs is fairly intense in urban centres (read: capital cities), but not at all in other areas (hence the many regional sponsorship incentives for skilled immigrants).

  • Are there certain job search websites that are recommended, especially for expats? There seems to be a lot, but many look dodgy.

  • Another option is if you are self-employed (e.g. artists, musicians, actors, film-makers, architects, language teachers etc) you can usually get a residence permit in Germany. Search ‘self employed visa germany’ or ‘artist visa germany’ – there are lots of guides online on how to apply.

    The working holiday visa for under 31 year olds is also available in other countries like the Netherlands, Germany, France etc. Might be good to do that and teach English for a while until you can find a better job that might be willing to sponsor you. Much easier to find a sponsor once you are in the actual country.

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