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International Job Search

In this tight job market, you sometimes have no option but to ‘take it where you find it’. This article gives an overview of the global market for expatriate ‘contract work’ in developing countries, isolated and high-risk environments.

There are three main types of overseas work:

1. Fixed Term Contract as an Expatriate.

2. Contract or permanent, with the aim of becoming a citizen of that country.

3. Overseas Assignment (secondment or transfer) whilst employed by your home company.

Work Permits

Most countries are capping the number of foreign nationals allowed to work there, and changing rules for Points-based entry. Before spending hours on the internet applying for jobs, check what types of skills are in demand. There are specialist emigration agencies and law firms that can advise you on the permit or visa that will enable you to live and work in the country you’re interested in. Many of these also have useful (free!) advice on their website.

What kinds of jobs are available?

There is a huge variety of jobs, especially in a good economic climate. The recent world market financial crisis has dampened this prospect but it will pick up again. Everything from technical (engineering, electrical, mechanics) to management (HR, finance, training) and security-related work.

PRO’s: Why should I consider working overseas?

– It builds good experience which can help you to get a job when you return home. – In most cases, it pays very well, always in US dollars.

CONS: What are the main negatives?

– Most jobs are in places where no-one wants to go – either very isolated, high-risk or 3rd world environments. – It is difficult to start a new life and career without a good support network, e.g. family and friends. You need emotional and psychological resilience – the loneliness and homesickness may result in poor concentration, or depression. – Long distances and poor infrastructure means that travel to and from home (for rotational leave) can be exhausting and frustrating. – Cultural differences play a bigger role than you may expect. It is difficult to make friends. – The cost of living can be high – although accommodation may be supplied by the employer, food and extras can be exorbitant.

Client Feedback

“I recently arrived in Ghana to start a new contact and did some sight-seeing in Accra (capital) this weekend. They have a Woolworths, Shoprite/Checkers, Game Store, Mr Price Clothing and good pharmacies but it is all very expensive. One box of Breakfast All Bran Flakes = USD 12.00!”

What kind of salary can I expect to earn?

In most cases, Expat contracts include accommodation, food and travel (to country of origin and back for rotational leave) on top of the salary. Salaries range from US$3,500.00 to US$15,000.00 – obviously depending on the position.

What are the main criteria for overseas applications?

1. A qualification from a recognised tertiary or training institution.

2. Excellent health – full medical checks are mandatory.

3. Clean criminal record – you need a Police Clearance Certificate.

4. References plays an important role…have them lined up!

5. Credit record verification will be done for most senior and financial positions.

Useful CV hints

– Your CV should be 100 % correct in terms of dates worked at companies.

– If you’re a senior professional with a lot of detailed information for your CV, have two documents – a 2-page Resume which is sent first, and a detailed version which can be sent on request if the recruiter wants to shortlist you.

– Ensure you have all the international dialling codes for your contact numbers, including your referees. For international calls to South Africa, this is: +27-31-5723193 (Durban). Also include e-mail addresses for referees.

– Include your passport number, Visa status (e.g. whether you have a work permit) and any other passports you hold, in the CV.

Two good recruitment websites to try:

International Development / Aid organisations: http://www.devex.com

Global mining recruitment (full spectrum from technical to admin): http://www.infomine.com

How does the interview process work?

The first ‘screening’ interview is often by telephone, if the recruitment consultant is in another country. Skype is used extensively

– it may be a good idea to open a free Skype account and invest in a webcam.

The second interview is with company officials and if shortlisted to the final round, directly with management.

CLIENT FEEDBACK from Len Heynecke, HR Manager for Boart Longyear, a US-based company. This job involves the HR management of BL operations in English West Africa (Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia). Len was previously the HR Project Manager for Barrick Gold Mines in Tanzania.

“I was actively job searching for six months in 2010, and what an experience it was… I applied for over 100 positions and was in contact with more than 30 agencies – some of the worst which I dealt with are in Johannesburg and London and some of the best in Australia, Cape Town and USA. I have travelled more than 30 000 km’s for interviews, crossed rivers, lakes and drove by 4X4 vehicle, was body searched 18 times and had to unpack my bags more or less the same.”

Antoinette Tigar (founder of CV Makeovers http://www.cvmakeovers.co.za) has written more than 2000 CV’s for a variety of clients working in every type of profession. Based in South Africa, she specialises in CV’s for engineers, electricians, trainers, managers, security specialists and logistics experts doing contract work in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

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