How to Find a Job Abroad With a Limited Skillset

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Moving to another country isn't only for those with a degree and five years of relevant work experience. Anyone who wants to do it, can. It might take a little more planning, time and determination, but those who are willing to take the leap can make it happen.


The first step is to determine where to go or, more specifically, which countries will allow you to legally stay and, possibly, find work. Many countries are looking for low-skilled workers and often have work permits available. For example, the European Union has put out a guide book for unskilled workers, while Australia, New Zealand, and Canada—Alberta in particular—have actively recruited workers for various industries and provided work permits to match. Notices can be found for countries like Scandinavia as well as Singapore and South Africa.

Visas and Work Permits

After considering a few countries, check with each's official website for the latest information. Notice calling for foreign workers can be found there in addition to details on how to apply for specific work permits. 

Keep in mind that some work permits may be tied to a specific job, although this often applies only to visas that a company obtains for you. Again, know the rules before you apply. Some visas and work permits take a while to process. For those who don't want to wait at home, there is the option of obtaining a visitor visa and, after moving, applying for work within the new country. Just be aware that some visas require the applicant to be in their home country during processing.

Finding a Job

While online postings are a great way to see what kinds of jobs are available in the country you'd like to move to, it's not a good idea to accept a job without first researching it thoroughly and/or visiting the company in person. Some work permits may be tied to a particular job, while others allow you to move from job to job as needed. A good place to start is to find out which area of the country, and which industry, needs workers the most. For example, Canada may be your destination, but not all provinces are looking for workers. You may land in Ontario only to find the work is in three provinces over.

Next, look at what kind of jobs are available in a given location. Your permit will note whether there are restrictions on the type of job that immigrants can apply for—temporary or seasonal, for instance—or whether they're restricted to a specific industry or area. After knowing all the details, start checking the online job sites, like Monster or Indeed, to see what's out there and available to you. Again, be careful of accepting a job without researching the company.

For those looking for work after they land, the search is a lot easier. Look out for "Help Wanted" signs, search local job ads, and talk with locals. Keep copies of your resume and references with you, and spend time out in public spaces where a brief encounter could provide a possible lead. Again, if a work permit is tied to a specific job or industry, options may be more limited. However, such limitations also mean that the job search will be more focused, which always helps when trying to secure one.

Earning a Living Wage

Be aware that the work you'll be doing may pay less than what you can make in your home country. So before you pack your bags, make sure you look at the local cost of living and weigh that against the average wage offered. Some industrialized countries have raised wages for foreign workers in order to attract them to their doors, while others may offer less than what locals would receive.

Most importantly, know the costs of rent, food, and transportation. Check local rental ads, ask on forums about food costs, and go to city websites to learn about the costs of transportation. Also, check out health care costs and determine if you qualify for health care coverage or if you have to purchase your own insurance. Most industrialized countries outside the U.S. cover the cost of health care.

Be prepared to just make ends meet. Saving money while working overseas is tough unless the employer provides accommodation and/or meals. Choose the job wisely. Restaurants or fast food chains may offer employees a discount on meals or even provide a daily lunch or dinner as part of your employment agreement. There are ways to save, but know before you go.