Subject Material

Landing a Job Abroad

Published: 07.09.2011, Updated: 04.03.2017
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Pre -reading: Watch the trailer of the movie, Outsourced, and discuss the situation in which the main character finds himself. Do you think this is typical for someone going to work in a foreign country?

Outsourced - movie trailer 


Make sure you understand these words before you read the text. Use the dictionary in the link collection to look up new words:

  1. migrant
  2. develop
  3. originated
  4. tempting
  5. acquire
  6. cope
  7. entails
  8. challenge
  9. peruse
  10. efficient
  11. disappointment
  12. compete
  13. resident
  14. attractive
  15. application
  16. hire
  17. adapt
  18. suitable
  19. skill
  20. internship
  21. strive
  22. hone
  23. crucial
  24. opportunity
  25. persistent
  26. fumble
  27. trustworthy
  28. anonymity
  29. embarrass
  30. gratitude
  31. volunteer

Landing a Job AbroadIf you chose to or were forced to work abroad, you would be one of the many million migrants moving to another country in order to work.

Some UN Migration statistics UN Migration  

  • International migrants in 2005 were 191 million on a global basis.
  • The number living in a developing country and coming from another developing country (South to South migrants) was about the same as the number living in a developed country and coming from a developing country (South to North migrants).
  • Percent of migrants living in different areas: Europe 34%, North America 23%, Asia 28%, Africa 9%, Latin America  and Caribbean 3%, Oceania 3%
  • Nearly half of all migrants worldwide are women. There are more women than men migrants in the developed countries.
  • Nearly 6 out of every 10 highly-educated migrants living in OECD countries in 2000 originated in developing countries.

Further information: International Migration 2009 


Pros and Cons of Working Abroad

Working abroad may be tempting for many reasons, for instance, to learn about other cultures and to acquire skills, e.g. foreign languages, new techniques, that may be hard to come by in one's home country. It also shows future employers that one is capable of coping with everything that living abroad entails. Thus, besides encouraging personal development, working abroad may give one a certain edge in today's competitive job market. However, the international job market isn't without its challenges.

What Kind of Work?

Oil WorkersOil Workers Venezuela
Fotograf: Carlos Garcia Rawlins
There are many kinds of jobs, and many ways to find them. One may of course peruse ads in the press or browse relevant websites in the hope of finding the job of one's dreams. However, unless one possesses a particularly "bankable" education (maybe within tourism, medicine, engineering or trade/finance), solid experience and/or a very efficient network* this may lead to a considerable degree of frustration and disappointment. Applying for a job in a foreign country, one competes with the residents of the country of one's choice, and attractive businesses, that receive a multitude of applications, may consider that there is too high a risk in hiring someone that will need some time to adapt, however qualified and otherwise suitable this person might be. (Finding jobs throughout Europe, Job offer search engines - eurosummerjobs, UK Government - Find a Job. Quintessential Careers )
There are other options for going abroad than landing the job of your life. Many students/young professionals find that an internship  abroad is a welcome supplement to their career building efforts. They participate, for a limited period, in the activities of an organization in order to acquire skills, build a network and learn how things are done "in the real world". Internships 

*Networking is the activity where you build relationships with people who may be in position to help you achieve your goals. The work market can be highly competitive, and a large part of it is "hidden" or "closed", i.e. not available to the average job seeker. Networking 

Other Alternatives for Spending Time Abroad

Building a career is not the only reason why people might want to opt for a stay abroad: learning languages, discovering foreign cultures or other new experiences are also valid reasons. Although travelling is a wonderful form of leisure, it is also quite costly, and many of those who wish to live abroad for some time, choose to finance their stay by working. Many options are open to people in such situations. Some choose to be au pairs. They take care of children in the families with which they live and study at the same time. Others volunteer for international organizations that strive to make the world a better place. The Peace Corps, for instance, sends hundreds of young people on missions in third world countries every year, and that is only one of many organizations . Fredskorpset 

Whatever type of job one looks for and whether it is at home or abroad, one ought to hone one's skills in networking and communication.


  1. Which type of country do most migrants come from and which type of area do the highest percent of migrants live in, according to the UN in 2005?
  2. What are some of the reasons that make it attractive to work abroad?
  3. What are the three factors which make it easier to find the job of one’s dreams?
  4. Does the text mention any disadvantages one faces in trying to get a job abroad?
  5. Why is a network important?
  6. What other alternatives are there for working abroad if you don't find the job you have been dreaming of?


  1. Which country/countries would you prefer to work in? Why?
  2. What type of job would you choose for your first job abroad, voluntary work, internship or the "job of your dreams" after you are fully qualified? Why?
  3. Under which circumstances is working abroad really worth it?
  4. How free should the international job market be?
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