How to apply for a job abroad

Posted by:
August 14, 2021
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Although life hasn’t entirely returned to our pre-pandemic ‘normal’, mobility is improving. Those who were dreaming of their expat life are starting to make plans again, and gap-year students and young professionals are also getting itchy feet. So if holidays aren’t your only reason to get on a plane or train, where do you start to look for a job abroad?

You already know that languages are our bread and butter — we know that speaking a foreign language boosts your career opportunities at home and beyond the UK. That’s why besides helping students, we also offer business language classes and advice for professionals who work with or in foreign countries.

So let’s say that you’re decided to work in your dream destination (after-work drinks at the beach in the Canaries, anyone?) but have no job offer yet, how can you send off an attention-grabbing application from the UK? We’re here to help you out.

Where to search for jobs abroad

The process to find a job outside the UK is similar to what you’re used to back home, but you may need to do some extra research to know where to look. Here are some tips:

  • The online world beyond LinkedIn. LinkedIn should always be your starting point (and you should translate your profile into your target language!) but there’s a world of platforms beyond the famous professional networking space. If UK companies advertise on Monster, for example, Spanish employers prefer Indeed, while 59% of the French opt for

  • Networking is key. If you think that you don’t know anyone who can help you, you’re probably wrong. If you’re looking for a job in your field, ask your university professors and your colleagues whether they know of relevant people and organisations in your target country. If you’re switching careers, cast your net wider and ask your language tutor, friends, and family to help you out.

    Conventions, conferences, and workshops in your desired field are also a great chance to meet people who may have connections abroad, and LinkedIn is a brilliant place to find relevant contacts who publish useful content and job ads.

  • Know your industry. Each field plays by slightly different rules. Tech jobs are advertised online (there are even special websites entirely dedicated to marketing, design, or developer positions, for example.) Government jobs should be looked for, no surprise, on official foreign government and administration websites. The NGO world has its own list of international platforms, such as Devex and Reliefweb.

How to write a compelling CV for a job abroad

Again, research makes a world of difference between a successful resume and one that gets chucked in the bin. You should familiarise yourself with:

  1. The field you wish to work in. If software developers can get away with an English CV pretty much anywhere, the majority of industries requires a curriculum written in the local language. While office staff usually apply with a traditional CV, creative professions require a portfolio, and academics must include a dedicated section with their research and publications.
  2. The format that is preferred in your target country. Should you include a picture in your Italian CV? How long should a Spanish curriculum be? Do you talk about your hobbies in a German resume? Do you have to use the Europass format in France?
  3. The company you’re applying for. This is perhaps the most crucial part. It doesn’t matter whether the rest of Portugal in your field uses the Europass CV if the company you’re applying for wants a portfolio. Read the job posting carefully and make sure to follow the instructions.

In general, no matter the language you’re writing in, your CV should be short and easy to read. Cut all the fluff and write short sentences and paragraphs. If you can, use bulleted lists and other elements that make it easier to find relevant information. Recruiters all over the world receive tons of applications and can only dedicate a few seconds to each CV.

Once you’re done writing your CV, have it proofread by a friend or colleague you trust, or a tutor. 

Should I include a cover letter with my application abroad?

Again, this depends on the specific application. Many companies will clearly state whether they require a cover letter in the job listing. 

If you decide to write one, make sure that it doesn’t simply repeat the content of the CV and take advantage of the extra space to discuss what makes you unique for this position and the reason(s) why you’re applying for the job and this company specifically.

How to prepare for a job interview with a foreign company

Here are the top tips to arrive prepared for a job interview abroad:

  1. Confirm whether the interview will be in English or/and in the local language. Ask your language tutor to help you prepare with mock interviews
  2. Research the company and the job position thoroughly
  3. Make sure you know who’s interviewing you and their role in the company
  4. Prepare some questions that will give you an idea of the organisation’s culture and goals

Ready to move? Contact our business language experts and write an irresistible application.


Can you find a job abroad from the UK?

Absolutely. Plenty of companies and organisations nowadays complete the recruiting process entirely online or only require applicants to travel for the last interview. If this is the case, you can ask to be given plenty of notice and whether they offer to cover the expenses.

Do you need to speak Spanish to find a job in Spain?

Yes and no. For some positions, it may be possible to secure a job even though you don’t speak the language. However, the vast majority of companies require applicants to speak at least basic Spanish to be able to communicate with their colleagues. Moreover, your life as an expat will be much easier, fuller, and more fun if you speak the local language.