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Ask HN: How Did You Find a Job Abroad?
100 points by cimmanom on March 1, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 77 comments
As an American looking to move overseas, I'm a bit overwhelmed by the seemingly infinite possibilities and the lack of curation of resources.

Looking for insights from people who have already been through this. Especially if you didn't already have a professional network at your intended destination, how did you start?

Did you find and contact specific companies? Apply to openings on job boards? Find recruiters? Something else?

If you went the recruiter route, how did you locate them and select the ones worth working with?

I have lived abroad for the past 7 years. Below are ideas that I got from personal experience abroad:

- In your home country, find a large company with offices abroad where you want to gom work for them a few years, and monitor internal job offers and apply to get transfered abroad.

PRO: good package if succesful.

CON: long and low probability of success.

- move to the foreign location first, and start your job hunt there, with linkedin, local recruiters and meetup.

PRO: more chance to be successful.

CON: your jobhpackage might not be as good as with the first method.

- teach english abroad.

PRO: the easiest way.

CON: salary wont be as good (but can still be decent compared to local wages), might be harder if you are not a citizen of an english speaking country (especially to get a visa), and no career prospects..

- find a remote job, setup a company locally, and hire yourself to get the visa. Technically, you will be a consultant to the foreign company.

PRO: financially can be really good, in particular if you earn western salary and live in a cheaper country. Also you will be very independent.

CON: a lot of setup is required, and it js harder to find a remote job. a variation of this method is to create your own online business. Probably the best setup if you manage to do it.

A few other thoughts:

- expat contracts are less and less offered

- knowing a relevant foreign language is not that helpful. If the company needs someone who can speak the local language, they will prefer to simply hire a local

- what is really helpful is to have a unique technical expertise that is hard to find in the country (someone said developer?)

This post is sound and current advice. If you are resource constrained, just go and sort it out when you're there. If you are worried, go somewhere that's easier to pull off first, then reward yourself by transitioning to your intended destination 12 or 24 months later.

How did you apply to get transferred abroad? Did your HR department have a path or information about this?

Got a working holiday visa for Ireland. Met a guy in a pub and we agreed on the proper pronunciation for JSON. Got an interview. Got a job. Got a green card. Still here.

Of course, you could also just apply. What's your skillset? Also, where do you want to go? Overseas is a big place!

So what is the proper pronunciation for JSON?

Jay-son (like "song" without the g though)

Not jay-sun, the name.

Like Jason, but with the emphasis on the second syllable: Jay-SAHN.

I am fairly positive it's not GSON.

I was on the same after university and had a great time. Talked with my manager a few months after when visiting and he asked if I liked it so much why didn't I let them know and they would've sorted it out for me to stay longer. Live and learn. Maybe once I get these AWS certs under my belt...

You can email me if you're curious. See my profile.

Hey CalRobert, thanks! I'll reach out soon!

The easiest in my opinion - work for US company and then relocate within organization - this may help you avoid pay-cut and sort out various visa/relocation hassles.

Another option would be working remotely for US company and travelling - see digital nomads. Then once you are fine to settle down you can seek local job. Recruiters will chase you down anyway once you switch your LinkedIn location.

Actually you can even now show your interest to relocate with LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/career-interests/

> working remotely for US company and travelling

Note that in many jurisdictions this is in violation of immigration laws (and possibly tax laws). Check the law in the location you plan to move to.

Applied for a couple of jobs in StackOverflow developer job section. Got called for a couple of interviews within two weeks or so. Finally, got a job in a Software company in Germany. Next thing you know, I'm in freezing Munich (But the city and people are pretty nice though)

PS: I'm from Sri Lanka

What was your experience level when applying / how long ago was this? SO Careers/Jobs is pretty different now to when I was using it in 2015/2016 and now I'm virtually getting no responses despite seemingly appropriate fit. Maybe it's just me but it's proving to be a time sink.

No OP but similar case; ~2015. Took 3 months end to end (Application to Offer, moving was 2 more months thanks to Visa process-BlueCard).

Interviews were all conducted via skype. Had 1 HR screening, 2 tech rounds with now teammates, 2 director rounds (not really tech more like cultural fit)

After having worked for the team 2 years I will say my return on time invested was at least 100x, YMMV though.

I really thing

I've passed out from college back in 2015 and since then worked in a B2B integration company for 2.5 years. To be frank, I've worked my ass of in past 2.5 years and gained a lot of experience in various technologies (both backend and front end). Moved to Germany in this February.

Well, I lived in seven different countries so far. I never moved to another country without a job. This is not to say that it cannot be done of course. It is just that I never did it.

Finding a job in a country other than the one where you live is not easy and it can easily take up to a year.

I found that lots of companies will not even interview you if you are not in the same country. Having a national phone number helps (you can get one with Skype at al).

Large companies and international organizations are more likely to consider candidates residing abroad and more likely to relocate you. Also, they are less likely to require knowledge of the local language.

Beware of moving somewhere without a job: visa requirements might be such that you cannot legally look for employment while there.

I've worked two jobs overseas:

a. A post doc at EPFL. The professor sent out the JD, I applied.

b. Microsoft China. I looked at their webpage and cold emailed someone whose area seemed appealing to me. Got the job a few months later.

In total, I was out of the USA for almost 11 years (2 in Swiss, 9 in China).

The market for PhDs is a bit different, we have to rely almost solely on our connections (recruiters aren't useful), but on the other hand it is easier to get the jobs you are qualified for (not as much competition at the PhD level) if you know where to look.

> we have to rely almost solely on our connections (recruiters aren't useful)

This is pretty much the same here in AUS. Being from mainland EU on a spouse visa (457), people hardly get ANY job, and I mean even a toilet cleaner position. People get simply rejected because of "lack of local experience" bull5hit.

AUS will reap what it sows, every country will.

OT: what was your experience at EPFL like? I've applied for a master's there, and preliminary research suggests it's an excellent university. It'd be cool to hear from you (or anyone else) with direct experience :)

2 interesting ways:

# Competing in hackathons overseas (I got many job offers this way)

# Getting inside interesting IT, or VC facebook group, many times they offer jobs this way. (I got my current job this way)

A couple questions: did you have to travel to the hackathons?

How did you fing these groups?

> Did you find and contact specific companies?

That is an option. Companies I have been working for have hired people that contacted directly. If you want to come to Stockholm, these are some companies I know people in:

- https://king.com/sv/jobs?locations=stockholm&roles=all - https://www.netent.com/en/section/work/ - https://www.spotifyjobs.com/

If you know the company you want to work for, just apply for that. But before that, make sure that you like the culture, weather, city, etc. where you are moving in. If you know which city or country, but not wich company, other methods are probably better that investigating company by company.

A good option is to work for an international company with cross-country secondment offers. I did this. I worked for a company in my country of origin, and then applied for a position in another company. It was quite easy.

I am in the process of moving from the States to Europe. I am not an American (EU citizen), but I have lived in USA for almost 8 years now. It is a process I am going though with my significant other. We started by identifying places that offer good job opportunities for both of us. Then we filtered out places that are too expensive to live or have housing shortage (like Stockholm) and places where it is difficult to live without knowing the language and the language is too difficult for us to learn (like Paris). We identified one best place for us. We have been learning the language for a few months now (online resources + conversations with friends), but according to many we would be just fine only knowing English. I have found a few interesting opportunities on HN's monthly "Who's hiring" [1,2] thread and applied.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16492994 (March)

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16282819 (February)


Correct :)

Did you consider other German cities as well?

Yes. München has a lot to offer, but my SO could not find anything for her. Also cost of living seems to be higher.

And it's near Poland ;-)

You didn't mention what do you specialize in but I will assume something related to IT.

Some time ago I have started poking around for a job abroad. Don't know when or how but I have found AngelList. I wasn't actively looking and I didn't want to be overwhelmed by a million job sites so I thought I'd just try out my luck on this one as it was trending at that moment as a startup job site.

Filled out my profile, started sending my resume to companies from cities I was interested to move to. Few months after I got a response from a guy from a small company in Amsterdam, Netherlands. It didn't sound too serious but we kept in touch through the year and then he asked me to come over. Booked me tickets introduced me to the company and to the city a little bit.

And that's how it went. I got a few weeks to decide whether and when I want to come. I left my job in my home country Lithuania and I'm happily living in Amsterdam for over a year now.

I'm not sure how actively you're looking for a job but AngelList would be the No. 1 place to start. I have heard other success stories related to that place as well.

Managed to convince my existing employer to let me work remotely fulltime. Moved oversees and kept working for them for two years.

Posted in the monthly freelancer thread on HN and was emailed by a guy with some work that was also remote and switched to working for them.

I'd say the easiest way to get a remote job first, then you can move wherever you want, timezone permitting.

I'm not knowledgeable on visas and traveling abroad and all that stuff. How does that work for a situation like this ? I'm sure it varies from country to country. From where to where did you move?

> How does that work for a situation like this?

There's no single answer to this question, it depends almost entirely on A. What citizenship(s) you hold and B. What immigration arrangements your intended country of work has with any of the States you hold citizenship in. Like many of these things, there is a bit of a birth country lottery involved here as to how difficult this may or may not be for you, or even whether it's legally possible in the first place.

In other words pick somewhere and google or seek legal advice for your own situation. The answer is often entirely different depending on which country you intend to work in.

I moved from one EU country to another - no visas needed. I just needed to register as self-employed in the new country and started paying tax there instead.

I moved to Tokyo, rented a room, and registered with a couple of staffing agencies that specialize in IT jobs for foreigners (one of which wound up hiring me internally). You need a a 4 year degree or 10 years work experience to qualify for the working visa. Happy to recommend a local IT recruiter if anyone wants.

Moved to Tokyo before acquiring a job? How did you manage that in the first place? I'd be interested in the recruiter. I wonder if I can hack it as an English teacher to get the sponsorship and work my way through.

I just came over and stayed in a hotel for a few days while I found a cheap room in a so-called Gaijin House (dormitory-style housing that rents by the month).

As for English teaching, that's a whole topic unto itself, with lots of online resources, forums etc. If you have any marketable skills or job experience then my advice would be not to mess with it.

Glad to introduce the recruiter (for IT/finance - I don't know any recruiters that deal in English teaching jobs). Email is my username at gmail.

4 months of Treehouse (https://teamtreehouse.com/) courses and I landed a job as a web developer in Berlin, relocating and 7x'ing my salary. Good ROI on that $100 investment (4 months x $25p/m) :)

P.S. Found the job through LinkedIn

I lived overseas for 8 years.

In one country, I went there as a student and through an internship got a job in my industry (media).

In another country, I went there to study language and ended up finding local companies (mostly media) who wanted to hire me and were able to set up temporary work visas. It was not hard to find work, lodging, and other resources, even though this was in the days before widespread Internet use. Networking and print classifieds could take you pretty far. I once found housing on an old fashioned public bulletin board.

The Internet has made it much easier to find such opportunities. I know in some countries there are local expat bulletin boards with job and housing listings, plus advice on local work requirements. But I have also seen lots of international listings using LinkedIn job search and restricting to certain locales.

Good luck!

Both times people came to me.

My first overseas job: I had spend a few months there and enjoyed the place. When I realised they had a blooming startup scene, I built a small project to map the startups and send it to a few people. That caught the attention of the CEO of one of the startups who then proceeded to send me an email asking if we could arrange a Skype call

Second overseas job: Had been freelancing for a while. The CEO found me on angel list and asked if we could arrange a call to discuss some contract work (having some blog posts and a website played a big role in having them choose me). I got their app off the ground, helped them with a few other things and the CEO eventually asked if I would be interested in working full-time for them.

(EDIT) I guess the lesson learned here is: have an online presence no matter how small.

Been working in Singapore for 13 years now. Originally from Sweden.

In my case, I already knew I needed to move there for family reasons. Before that I had already considered moving abroad but it wasn't until I knew where I wanted to go that I could start looking for real.

I was browsing job boards and did get a couple of interviews. Nothing was particularly interesting though. Then on a fluke I got in touch with another European who worked for the Singapore branch of a European company, and they were looking for tech people. A few interviews later I had a job offer, and the company helped out with the legal parts.

It's all worked out pretty well and I currently have no plans to leave the country.

For Europe, I used https://www.eurojobsites.com as well as the job vacancy sections of individual companies and organizations.

Each country tends to have its job boards as well (e.g. https://www.jobs.ch/en/ for Switzerland) so you might want to check them out.

Stack Overflow Careers, Angel List and the monthly 'who is hiring?' thread here are also useful.

As I mentioned, my advice however is to move with a job, rather than go abroad and then look for employment.

Best of luck!

For Switzerland you can just e-mail me! I am a former programmer, turned technical recruiter. I run https://coderfit.com, a niche recruitment agency that focuses on Zurich. Please let me know at iwan@coderfit.com, if I can be of any help. I got already a couple of engineers successfully into Switzerland.

If you can move to a job, that is really the best but that is not always possible. Some opportunities only open up if you are already in the country/in the city where you want to move. Several of my clients (unfortunately) consider only candidates that already basically live next door. They are missing out on great talent from other places but they don't want to take the risk that someone gets the job (which means other people have to be rejected), moves, doesn't like something about the place and moves away.

I moved from Australia -> London.

I just took a leap of faith. I had a (small) amount of savings, that could keep me a float for 3-4 months.

I interviewed a couple of companies (both start ups and big corps) over the phone while still in Australia, and ended up getting an offer at the first company I interviewed at in person. I liked them so I cancelled the rest.

Best decision I've made, I love London and don't plan on leaving. But I was in a very privileged position to be able to take that huge a risk, and already had an easy Visa + friends to fall back on if I couldn't find a job.

So, I have this vague hand wavy idea that Australians are citizens of the crown, so they can go to the UK at will without jumping through bureaucratic hoops. This likely does not apply to an American.

Can you (or anyone) clarify that detail or speak to this issue? Because my suspicion is that an American would likely need a job offer in order to apply for the right kind of visa. In the US, if you show up on a tourist visa and then want to get a job or marry an American, that is apparently not kosher, from what I gather.

Right now that's only accurate if you're between 18 and 31 or have a close relative who was born in the U.K., though with Brexit looming, some politicians want to speed up the process for Commonwealth citizens. Right now, Commonwealth citizens have three options for UK visas:

1.) Youth mobility visa - when people talk about how easy it is for commonwealth citizens to get UK work visas, this is normally the program they're talking about. If you're between 18-31, are a citizen of the Commonwealth and have the resources to support yourself while you're looking for work, you can live in the U.K. for two years without needing a work permit. This program cannot be renewed and a recipient can only come to the UK on a youth mobility visa once. This visa also has no resident/citizenship path. I was too old when I started looking into immigration so didn't look into this one any further.

2.) Ancestry visa - If you're a Commonwealth citizen and have a grandparent (you have other options if your parent(s) were born in the U.K.) who was born in the U.K., you can get a five year Visa that lets you work (but oddly, not study) in the U.K. After five years, you can start the residency -> citizenship path.

3.) A regular points based visa - This is open to everyone.

(Source - I'm a Canadian who strongly considered moving to the UK)

Australia is part of the "citizens of the crown" in that we are part of the Commonwealth.

The reason we travel far easier, is that Australia is an incredibly young country (1901), so most people are < 2 generations away from European ancestors. This makes visa's quite easy.

We also have a pretty great deal with the US, with the E3 visa, which is basically a private pool of visas only available to Australians.

Re: US citizens travelling to the UK, I don't think there are very good systems in place for that. I think you would be better off with the wider EU (Swizterland, Germany, France, Netherlands, Denmark are pretty decent from a tech perspective)

Thank you.

Wasn't me, but a friend of mine worked from Germany for a couple of years. He worked for a company in the US that had offices throughout the world (it was a shipping company). A bit of his work involved working with other teams, so he had a bit of insight into those teams. He noticed that there were openings for positions similar to his in the foreign offices and reached out to the managers. He had to prepare a CV for them, but he was able to transfer there relatively easily.

I did not went out my way to find a job in the US (I live in Spain, Barcelona) but rather that's just where the project I want to work on happen to be (Protocol Labs/IPFS). I work remote as well, so no move needed (I love my Catalunya!).

Rather than finding a specific location to move to, why don't find a project that aligns with you, and then move wherever they are? (after investigating the location of course)

I'm personally really interested in living in spain for a while, I already speak spanish and only need 2 years to got citizenship due to living in iber-america. How hard do you think it is to get a job in spain?

Easy! When I moved here, I was not a professional programmer (just been playing around for a few years), didn't speak spanish and had basically no work experience. But it took no more than a week or two of scouting before I got my first job (but crappy job). Fast-forward one year and I got a entry-level job as a programmer. After another year with some more experience, I had plenty of programming jobs to chose from.

Edit: worth to add that this was in Barcelona, which seems to have a higher percentage of people speaking/understanding Spanish. First town I moved to was Girona but no one spoke English so had to move to Barcelona.

Sorry I took so long to answer, but thank you! I'll definitely start looking!

I started fresh out of university as a volunteer with the Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) teaching computer science classes in a village in Kenya. Ended up having a great time and learning a lot about myself and the world. Met lots of people, got several jobs from there, haven't moved back to the US since then (eleven years now), but have been all over the world. Great experience!

A friend of mine wrote down his experience getting a job in Canada. The article was an HN recently, but maybe worth to link it again: https://blog.stephanbehnke.com/how-i-learned-to-stop-worryin...

Asking for a friend. If an American was looking for work in UAE or even SE Asia what are some good tools to facilitate that?

I saw an ad on StackOverflow Jobs for a position at an NGO in Monrovia, Liberia. Since my better half, who was living in Tokyo at the time, was born there I thought it would be interesting.

I applied and got the job very quickly, after a couple of interviews and an online test for competence. It was a contract and I ended up staying for six months.

Stackoverflow for Europe. Also, lots of opportunities to talk to people online - but I overwhelmingly recommend Europe.

I'm just curious, why Europe?

Citizen friendly laws, good economy ...

Applied on LinkedIn for about a month, did phone interviews for 5-6 different roles. Failed some and passed some others. From the ones I passed I rejected some, others rejected me after finding a local candidate and finally I accepted an offer.

On hacker news who is hiring by cmd + f remote / visa and applying the first time.

The second time was through stack overflow careers by filtering the ones that sponsored visa.

I moved first with some savings and then started applying through job pages on local companies' websites. Took a bit under 2 months overall.

If you are looking to move to Asia. Loom Network (TechStars Winter '18) is offering visas to programmers in Bangkok. We are a blockchain company famous for CryptoZombies (https://cryptozombies.io) . We need Go Backend, Vue.Js, and Kubernetes resources .

Email me at matt@loomx.io put [HN] in the title

I moved from Russia to Sweden, then to the Netherlands as a software engineer.

Interesting thing about my situation - I don't have any degree.

Before even looking for a job, I had to do research about work permit rules in different countries in respect to bachelor degree.

The problem is that I couldn't ask for any help on the Internet for two reasons. First, there were very few "smart dropouts" looking for a job abroad. Second, very strong perception in society that university degree is solid, reliable and universal proof of qualification (and that's wrong, having a degree from noname university often tells absolutely nothing about qualification). Usually, I got useless answers like this: sorry, but Europe is out of the question, nobody needs uneducated people.

Obvious choices like US couldn't work for me since they have stupid H1B visa system. According to stupid logic of H1B, even if you get decent job offer from Google, you are not eligible for H1B visa without degree or 12 years of documentary proven relevant experience.

For months, I thought it's not possible to go anywhere in the first world without a degree.

In 2014, I dismissed popular beliefs that it's almost impossible to relocate without a degree. At that time, I decided to directly contact several immigration authorities about work visa requirements - Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Sweden.

In Hong Kong, they said it's theoretically possible. At that point, I realized that I still have a chance.

In the Netherlands, Immigration and Naturalisation Service confirmed that degree is not a requirement for highly-skilled work permit. And this was starting point to actually look for a job in the Netherlands.

I looked for a job mainly here:


Additionally, I found my ex-colleagues in LinkedIn who work in Europe. I significantly improved my LinkedIn profile by explaining what I actually did at my previous jobs. Also, I added lots of recruiters to my LinkedIn network. Gradually, my profile became relevant and I started appearing in searches more often.

There were some very useful recruiters (mainly from London), who gave me valuable advices about my CV. If you have a lot of recruiters in your network, then you have a good chance to have a few of them, who understand your non-standard situation (i.e. not having any degree) and who are willing to spend their time giving you advices and recommend you to employers.

What I found is that mediocre companies tended to care much more about degree, than top companies. For example, Google, Facebook and Amazon really don't care about your degree unless it's Standford, MIT or something like this.

It was a long story how I failed lots of interviews because of cultural fit, ability to explain well what you thinking during coding round etc. I won't cover it here.

Eventually, I moved to Sweden first, worked for two companies there, then I moved to the Netherlands (thanks for 30% tax rulling for expats, I love it!).

Here is my LinkedIn profile:


May be I should help those university dropouts who want to relocate to different country.

Really valuable. Working internationally without an undergrad degree is its own class of problem.

Not having a degree in tech remains an extremely expensive (yet surprisingly reliable) counter signal for exceptional technical ability.

The question of why a company should hire someone without a degree overlooks the more accurate one which is, would this person actually still be in tech if they did have a degree?

There are laws and regulations in place to filter those people out, but like anything, there are exceptions to the rules. If you know any of them, they would be really, really useful.

Stack Overflow jobs specify if they will pay for relocation and visa applications which is really useful.

Highly insightful, thank you!

Wrote a blog post.

Got call from my future manager.

Moved from cold Canada to warm California. :)

While traveling, I searched for local jobs.

drop me a resume if you’re interested in working in one of the best cities in the world, shanghai

Currently in Shenzhen, looking to move to Shanghai. Your website does not seem to work - can I email you?

why do u want to leave US? Isnt it american dream?

I created and launched a job board specifically for people like you last year. http://www.visaok.in

You can find jobs by Country / Work Visa. These are employers who promise to pay for and get you a work visa. As an American, you'll find that you have a lot less restrictions and requirements for working overseas on a work visa / resident permit.

From the listings and data, I found that Germany, Netherlands, UK / Great Britain (to an extend) and Denmark in Europe have the easiest to obtain work visa programs. Many also have 'Startup Visa' programs that lets the employer bring in an overseas engineer / tech worker on that Visa.

Lastly, I've done tons of research and published 'Visa Guides' for various countries.


These guides details the requirements, fees, and application portal links and forms.

Let me know if you (or anyone else) has feedback on what I can do to better help you.

Great resource, and those visa guides are wonderful!

There were no job openings listed in my preferred location that match my skill set, but maybe there will be in the future.

Job boards have always worked great for me. What countries are you looking at?

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