Trying to find a new role in your target country while in your country of origin


I feel compelled to write about this, as since Good Friday I have had 7 separate enquiries from candidates looking to secure a role in the country I am based in, from their current location.
I have to admit, a couple of the cities people were from, made me check the atlas to find out exactly where in the world they were – so we’re not exactly talking about countries that I might regularly conduct business with!

However, that isn’t the problem here. In our so called “connected world” you would think that with all the technology on hand for video interviewing and communication tools in general, it would be easy to secure a role in another country from your country of origin. It isn’t….

I fully appreciate the frustration candidates’ experience, when being ignored by potential employers, despite their best efforts to convince the employer that the country in question is where they want to be.

I have been on both sides of this issue. Firstly as a candidate moving country for a job. Very quickly into the experience I realised that the cultural difference in work style and also the quite reserved nature of the populous in my new country, was an absolute mismatch for me, despite the job itself being an absolutely marvellous opportunity and one that I was completely capable of. I quickly returned to my home country after about 5 months with my confidence knocked.

For others, with possibly more resilience, or a ready-made support structure – a partner, long-standing friends to guide you through those initial months of readjustment – it can be an absolute glorious success. Indeed, at the same time as I was embarking on my abortive adventure, a former colleague of mine was relocating with his wife to Asia – another continent and it worked out superbly well for them and they eventually stayed in that part of the world for a very long period.

Given the above, employers are naturally quite risk adverse and reticent when it comes to employing candidates with no proven track record of living in the host country. So many things can go wrong including:

• Candidate struggles with the cultural adjustment.
• Their language skills are not sufficient to thrive in the local environment.
• Their work practices and approach are not that compatible with those of the host country.
• Basic things can promote home sickness, lack of access to familiar foodstuffs, reading material and lack of local adherence to customs the candidate may hold dearly.
• Being overwhelmed with the array of practical issues to address – transportation, housing, utilities, financials, healthcare etc., even though a lot of this might be supported by their employer.
• Video interviewing cannot provide a realistic preview of the physical working environment for the candidate and equally, the potential employer cannot really evaluate a person in total confidence, without observing how they behave outside of the actual “interview meeting”, i.e. how they mix with the staff they encounter during the visit to the prospective office etc. & their general interpersonal skills.
What practical steps can you take to attempt to secure a role in another country & address the above?

Firstly, check out the local job scene. If there are a cluster of multi-nationals in the desired country, then these sorts of companies may certainly be more progressive in their attitudes towards video interviewing, especially if you have an in-demand language or skill set.

Be prepared to absorb any expenses to travel to a physical interview, some companies use this tool as a way to find out exactly how serious your intentions are. Again, if you’re lucky enough to be a HOT candidate, chances are they will expense your trip.

However, for most people, just looking for a fairly standard job – the expense will fall to you if the company wish to meet you – and this is a huge step in the right direction in itself.

A lot of people will try and convey the impression that they are already living in their desired country, by using a contact who already lives there – they will put the local address and telephone number on their CV. However, this falls down as soon as the recruiter or company gets in touch they will either encounter a complete stranger, or at worst an impersonator attempting to be you! This will totally destroy any initial trust and backfire completely!

If you give your own local contact number & address, the potential employer in all reality will probably have some misgivings in getting in touch with you. You can always try and convey that you are moving to the host country on a specific date and why you have such a strong desire to live and operate in that country. It should go without saying, but unless you have the requisite visa for work and living for the country, you really shouldn’t be attempting to move country without addressing this issue yourself.

Honesty is really the best policy, but at some stage to be totally convincing you will have to save some money for relocation, quit your job, take a risk and move over and hope that being active on the ground in the local market place you will secure that job – and more importantly that lifestyle you crave so much.

Things you can do prior to the move, are make as many connections with people like me (recruiters) and engage with them. Find out what sort of roles they hire for and also if you find the real gems of recruiters (there are a few believe it or not) – they will be happy to support & advise on more general practical matters as well. Just ASK – people like to help others, makes them feel good!

Do a lot of research on salaries – where you currently are versus your desired location. For example – salaries in Geneva are not going to equate with a salary for the same role in Madrid! There is a huge amount of information on-line with regard to salary benchmarking across regions and the cost of living etc.

Be prepared to be faced with the same questions time after time – why are you moving here? Do you know anyone? How long have you spent in the country previously? What do you know about it? How will you go about compensating for your lack of local competitor knowledge etc.?

Finally – once you’ve been successful in making the move, give it time, persevere, something perhaps I didn’t do in retrospect. Figure out who can help you work out some sort of social life, listen to others, join in, but above all remember that tired old adage “When in Rome, do as….” – It really has some significance. Embrace your new culture – sure why did you move there in the first place, if you want to just build a mini insular version of your former habitat!


If you need any guidance – please drop me a line at or connect with me on facebook – Short Call Job Hunting or LinkedIn, or Twitter @ShortCall !