How You Can Practically Work Overseas (& Why You Should Do It)

Last Updated: 

June 6, 2024

People of all ages entertain thoughts about getting away from familiar pastures, but the desire is particularly strong for the young and ambitious. If you’re looking ahead to your life after formal education, you might daydream about seeing the world — but isn’t it just that? A daydream? Well, it doesn’t have to be. If you have the courage to try it, you can make it happen.

In truth, there’s a strong objective argument to be made for spreading your wings in this way. Venturing into parts unknown won’t just bring you joy. It’ll also expand your horizons, introducing you to new cultures and fresh ways of thinking, and prove to you that you’re capable of facing new challenges and overcoming them. It may well mark the start of a promising career.

In this post, we’re going to explain some great options for working overseas, explaining as we do so why this is something you should at least consider trying. Let’s get started.

Key Takeaways on Working Overseas Practically

  1. Embrace the Itinerant Lifestyle: Travel lightly and explore working through ad-hoc gigs. Minimalism and frugality can support your ventures, such as engaging in fruit-picking trips or short-term jobs like dishwashing, providing a unique way to experience diverse cultures.
  2. Be an Overseas Agent for a Local Company: Leverage remote working opportunities and global corporate expansion trends. Pitch the idea to your employer by emphasising the mutual benefits, such as your ability to work remotely without additional expenses and potential networking opportunities in a new country.
  3. TEFL Opportunities for Language Enthusiasts: Consider teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) to explore the world. Affordable English certification and a good command of English can open doors to teaching positions abroad, offering a chance to work, earn, and engage with different communities.
  4. Cultivate In-Demand Skills: To secure a full-time job abroad, focus on cultivating skills that are in high demand in specific countries. Choose skills that cannot be easily done remotely to enhance your competitive edge against local and remote job seekers.
  5. Consider Employer of Record (EOR) Services: Propose the idea of using Employer of Record (EOR) services to your employer for managing legal aspects like taxation and payroll. Highlight the benefits, such as your enhanced productivity and networking opportunities, to make a compelling case for working overseas while keeping your job.
  6. Be Open to Various Opportunities: Explore different avenues, such as volunteering schemes or other unique opportunities, to work overseas. Keep an open mind, and consider what aligns with your interests, future prospects, and desire to travel.
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Travel lightly and find gigs along the way

If you’ve been under the impression that you need a clear plan to work abroad, you’ve been mistaken, because it’s entirely possible to be an itinerant professional through nothing more than ad-hoc gigs. It may be challenging, but it can still be done. The key is to travel as lightly as you can. The less you take, and the less you spend, the less you’ll need to fund your continuing adventures. There’s a lot to be said for minimalism and frugality.

Plenty of people go on fruit-picking trips, for instance, spending weeks (or even months) picking berries to support their stays in exotic locales. It isn’t the most glamorous way to go, but it’s honest work with consistent demand. Alternatively, you could go from town to town looking for brief dishwashing jobs. Provided you maintain emergency funds and commit to heading home if you reach the point of needing them, the risk won’t be particularly high.

If you don’t want to stay in hostels and get the authentic experience of a fearless vagabond, though, you can try another route. It’s simply a nice option for the bold among us. Try to remember that the world is largely welcoming, though. Living in fear doesn’t help anyone.

Work as an overseas agent for a local company

Look for work overseas or stick with a steady job in your country. These options sound mutually exclusive, but they actually aren’t. Due to the rise of remote working and global corporate expansion, you have a solid chance (not high, perhaps, but solid of being able to move overseas while keeping a role secured in your native lands.

So how does this function? Well, there are two key elements. Firstly, there’s the employer-level motivation: the reason for a company to let you do this. Secondly, there’s the practical process: the method through which you’re able to go elsewhere but keep your job.

You might think that going to another country without leaving your job is simply a self-serving action, making it nothing but a perk that your employer’s unlikely to offer, but that isn’t true. It can also be hugely beneficial for said employer. Suppose that you’re already working remotely, won’t ask for any more money to fund your trip, and will have fresh networking opportunities in your new country — opportunities that could benefit your employer. Isn’t that worthwhile?

The trouble, of course, lies in the practical challenge of having an overseas employee. To employ talent globally, a company needs to have a registered entity in a given country, and it’s a lot to ask to have your employer create a new legal entity just so you can get away. But that isn’t the only way to proceed, and this is due to Employer of Record (EOR) services.

A company offering an EOR service has legal entities set up around the world and can manage everything from taxation to payroll on behalf of other businesses. If you can pitch such a service to your employer and make a strong case that you’ll return more value than the cost of using the service, you might be able to get approval. It’s worth trying, at least.

Find an interesting TEFL placement

TEFL, or teaching English as a foreign language, has played a huge role in helping English speakers see the world for many years. English is a dominant language around the world, and so many countries invest significantly in having their people learn to speak it at least reasonably well that the demand can’t be met by conventional teachers (plus their skills would be wasted).

A TEFL teacher doesn’t need to have advanced teaching qualifications. They need only have basic certification and a reasonable understanding of English. And while taking the TEFL route inevitably limits your options to the placements that happen to be available, having an open mind will give you chances to work overseas, make decent money, and engage with new people.

If this interests you, look for a TEFL program in your area, and start looking at the countries where you could realistically be placed. Is there one that stands out to you? Ask about how you could make your application compelling, and go from there.

Cultivate skills needed in specific countries

If you want to get a full-time job in another country with an unfamiliar company outside of TEFL, you have the hardest task by far, because most companies still prefer to hire locally. If you’re going to make it happen, you need to have the skills to justify it — and unless you want to trust fate, that means pointedly cultivating skills that are in great demand abroad.

Pay particular attention to jobs that can’t be done remotely, because otherwise you’ll be competing against remote workers who don’t have any intention of moving. But if you’re going to do this, don’t study something solely because it’s needed somewhere you’d like to go. Demand can easily fall, leaving you in the lurch. Study something because you enjoy it, it has a solid future, and it’s likely to give you opportunities to travel.

Conclusion

Wrapping up, then, we’ve looked at some key ways in which you can get to work overseas. This isn’t an exhaustive list, naturally (finding a lightly-paid volunteering scheme is another viable route, for instance), but it should give you something to think about as you plan your working future.

If you don’t want to work overseas, that’s fine: there’s nothing wrong with liking where you are. But if you’re not entirely satisfied with sticking around, start putting some deep thought into what you might like to do (and where you might like to go). You can do it.

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