How to work in a foreign country? - as an Expat

An Expat is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of the person's upbringing, usually for financial or economic reasons.

-get your credentials checked

It is important when you want to work in another country to see how valuable your existing diploma’s, certificates and previous experience are. This matters and makes it easier to find a suitable job. Everywhere you go they ask about your diplomas/certificates, even in the most trivial jobs. In this case it is also handy to have a scanned document of your diplomas and certificates so you always have an electronic version handy.

-have an updated CV

It is important to have an updated CV, so you have a better chance at finding a job that you really like and that matches your current career stage. It could also be the case that you need several CV’s if you work in more than one field, so your CV doesn’t get overwhelmed with a lot of different unfocused directions. Even if you are a specialist in multiple fields, it is better to keep separate CV’s, as it comes across as more specialized and targeted.

-follow extra schooling and the right certificates where needed

It can happen that because of the change of country you have to follow extra schooling to be qualified to work in the same field. This is a good long term investment as it makes sense to educate in a broad and specialized sense and follow education from a different country. Also when and if you travel back to your home country, this kind of education is valuable and you can compare the different types of knowledge. It’s never really a waste to educate yourself, even if there is some overlap.

-try different related jobs

I would recommend putting your efforts first towards related jobs and not just any job, because what I noticed is that the next employer is looking at your most recent experience in the country of residence. If this kind of experience is not related to your actual job, it doesn’t really match your CV. So it is important to seek something matching and not just become a waiter, janitor or cleaner, and if you do have to do that kind of job to support yourself, don’t put it on your CV, and try to find something at your level or a level lower but related to your field.

-don’t overburden yourself but be prepared

Don’t overburden yourself with all kinds of exciting plans and too much ahead, as you will easily get burned out even though you feel energized in the beginning. The fact that you travelled to another country might also take some energy and time to adjust. Take some time to reflect on the necessities and focus on being prepared for taking care of that part. Working in a foreign country is not just about luxury and vacation, it is actually a huge step to adjust mentally, emotionally and physically to a new environment. It takes a lot of flexibility, even with things that seem to be trivial like food habits, styles of housing, landscapes, the weather and the taste of water.

-find your way through the government of your chosen country

If it might happen that your career doesn’t come off the ground, be prepared to know your way to find support through the government, either in the search for a better job or to find financial aid. This is important because you might be eligible for some kind of funding even if you didn’t know about it.

-travel with someone when possible

It is always safer to travel with someone than by yourself. This also gives you a bit more stability and gives you someone to talk to when you are just by yourself. You might be surprised to think that travelling by yourself is awesome and amazing, but there can definitely be some crisis times that you need to call someone. In this case it is also good to know the crisis line of the country or to have some close relative that you can call just to talk to.

Shehnaaz graduated from the Leiden University in Psychology. She has a practice in Holistic Counselling and Therapy. You can contact her through her website,

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