Expats talk about their expat job searches

Looking for a job can be difficult enough, but looking for an expat job requires more creativity. In a recent post for the Wall Street Journal blog, Phuket based expat writer Anne Louise O’Connell profiled how a couple of expats found jobs abroad and the tips they have for other expats in the same situation.

Tom King, a digital marketing professional from Ireland, tuned to the Internet and found that social media (Twitter) was an effective job search tool for him in his field after his girlfriend found a job in Dubai. When he was looking for his own expat job, he registered “for every website going,” targeted CEOs of large agencies in Dubai and connecting with them on LinkedIn.

Julee Allen, an international development worker, had this advice for fellow expats looking for a job:

  • Be creative and professional.
  • Try to learn as much of the local language as you can.
  • Don’t despair when things don’t quite work out as planned.


“I network and always keep my eyes open for opportunities. I’m flexible too. In Hong Kong, there simply wasn’t work in my field, so I applied for management jobs at local NGOs where English was the working language.”

For the international development field, Allen recommended using job sites DevNetJobs.org, ReliefWeb and word of mouth.

Ed Dyer, an IT consultant and project manager currently working in Kosovo, recommended that expat job seekers “tap all your contacts using word of mouth, as well as online tools like LinkedIn, Facebook and InterNations.” He also suggested being patient:

“You’re stepping out of your comfort zone in so many ways that starting out can be difficult. Be prepared for setbacks and relax.”

Paul McCabe, a retired Foreign Service worker whose expat career spanned several decades, said keeping an open mind and being patient worked out for him:

“Things don’t always seem as they are, so it’s important to keep all doors open. In the expat world, you never know who you’re talking to.”

At one point, he was attending a conference in Rome for the U.N.’s Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) when a “bigwig” took an interest in his background and invited him to lunch. It turned out he had been a German Luftwaffe pilot and Mr. McCabe’s keen interest in history (and especially WWII) led them to talk about that the entire lunch. Nine months later, Mr. McCabe was contacted with a job offer from FAO because the head honcho had recommended him.

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