Five ways to find international jobs for English speakers, outside the scope of English teaching (and as a native speaker, you’re already at a huge advantage you probably didn’t know about).
If you’ve got dreams of working internationally, your career options are probably a) English teaching; b) English teaching or; c) English teaching.
For a lot of people (originally, myself included), working overseas often means putting their career aspirations on hold. It means pulling beers in a backpacker bar, or showing animal flashcards to rowdy six-year-olds, all while scraping in just enough for their next night at a hostel.
That’s exactly how my future looked when I first arrived in Spain – until I realised that I wasn’t cut out as a teacher (and I’d already worked enough nights at the local pub pack home), and would do anything to not have to do it.
Then I lucked out. After a 6-month stint at a primary school outside of Seville, my current job jumped out at me one day while I was procrastinating on Facebook. Turns out, well-qualified, native English speakers are hard to come by in this city (unless you’re looking for an English teacher, of course) – and a short month or so later I landed the job.
Now, I work in social media, digital marketing and content writing for an international education management business, and I’ve met countless others working in the same sort of role abroad.
Since then, my eyes have been opened to the world of overseas work opportunities for foreigner like myself, that extend beyond just – that’s right – English teaching.
If Mark Zuckerberg and co are anything to go by, there is a lot of money to be made online. That’s why, across the world, more and more online companies are springing up every day.
Here’s a fun fact for you: over half the Internet’s front pages are in English. Which means, if you’re a new online business owner, you’re going to need to market to English speaking markets. That’s where overseas digital marketers come in – they know the markets, they know the social media and, most importantly, they know the language.
While it’s easy to find a local, second language speaker to do the job, a native speaker can more deeply understand the nuances and in-jokes of the English-speaking Internet. In my line of online marketing work, I’m charge with writing a constant stream of relevant content, updating social channels, and just generally keeping old mate Google happy.
Unless you’re a really well-established travel blogger, making enough to live on from guest posting is a tough task.
Freelance writing, however, is a good way to supplement a low income. There are a number of good websites that will take guest submissions on any number of topics; from travel to technology, health or horse-riding. At one point, I had a gig writing Asian football predictions, and was earning about 50 Australian dollars for every 600 words I put to paper.
The first step to getting freelance work is to create a source of your own; I’ve maintained this travel blog for the past year and a bit, and a lot of outside, paid opportunities have come from it.
Otherwise, there are websites like Freelancer that have a constant stream of advertisements offering cash money for native speaker written copy. Here’s a hot tip: mine Twitter for specific guest posting gigs. Just a simple search of your chosen field, plus ‘guest post’ or ‘submissions’, and you can find a heap of freelance leads.
Travel is becoming more accessible. It’s cheaper and easier than ever before, meaning that flash holidays are more common than ever.
And what’s the easiest way to see a big city when you’ve only got a weekend to do it? Go on a guided tour, of course.
Sure, it seems like a fairly pedestrian option, but there is so much work in tour operation these days. In my base city of Seville, Spain, there’s a tour for almost anything; from local spots that inspired operas, to local bars that continue to inspire street vomiting.
I know a guy who never buys his own dinner – every night he takes tourists to the best tapas spots, and eats everywhere for free.
If you’ve been to any European city in the past few years, you will have noticed the abundance of the so-called ‘free’ walking tour. Those operators with bright yellow umbrellas and comfortable shoes make an absolute motza, because their income comes solely from post-tour tips. I’ve indulged in the occasional walking tour a few times, and while cash-strapped me can often only cough up a five euro note, I’ve seen some visitors hand over up to fifty. With 30 in a group, and, let’s say, ten euros per person, that’s 300 euros in cold hard cash for a couple of hours of work.
Online entrepreneur (a.k.a. digital nomad)
There was a time when the job description ‘entrepreneur’ sounded just as hopeful as ‘aspiring actress’ or ‘journalist’ (oops!). But when online entrepreneurs move overseas, they suddenly get to call themselves ‘digital nomads’; a new, overused buzz-word that makes self-employment sound sexy.
There are a number of ways to get yourself set up as a digital nomad, the first of which is to just not work for yourself at all. If your work, like mine, is primarily based online, you may be able to organise a pay cut to do the same thing from elsewhere.
Otherwise, the hot new entrepreneurial nomad trend is affiliate marketing. It’s an e-commerce trend that you’ve probably been sucked into before without even knowing it. Basically, if you can create a website or blog about an extremely specific product, then link to an online store (i.e. Amazon) selling that specific product, you can make a cut of every one sold. Let’s say you blog about cameras, for example. Your camera blog is so highly visited and pack with content, that whenever someone Googles ‘camera review’ your website shoots to the top of the search results. From there, if they click a link from your site to go ahead and buy said camera, you can make a percentage cut of the sale. I know bloggers who make a few bucks a month from affiliate sales, and others who make thousands in a week.
This is by far one of the trickiest jobs to get, but I couldn’t write a comprehensive list without giving it a mention.
There’s a reason consular jobs are so highly sought-after: working in the Australian embassy in Spain, for example, would get me an Australian-standard wage in a country where the average Joe makes about €600 a month. So, Australian embassy, if you’re reading this: please offer me a job!
Working in an overseas consulate usually requires you to be monolingual (the Australian embassy here also caters to Andorra and Equatorial Guinea, so Spanish, French and Catalan skills are a requirement), and can often be frustrating; lower ranking consular staff have to deal with visa applications, rejections, and travellers in trouble.
But, moving up the ranks, there are so many opportunities in international relations, security and trade, it’d probably be one of the most fascinating jobs you could land overseas.
How to get started overseas
Moving overseas for work is a bit of a chicken or the egg situation – do you find a job before you go, or wing it and start the search once you get there? As someone who’s been involved in hiring foreign candidates, I can strongly suggest the latter.
A big shadow of doubt is cast over a brilliant candidate with a top-notch C.V, who will have to relocate for the job.
What if they don’t like it here? Will we have to rehire months later? My advice is to pick a location where your job prospects look good (and where the legal hurdles aren’t so high), then start applying for jobs once you’re actually there. Plus, many cities have networking groups where the old adage of who you know, not what you know, strongly applies (cough, Seville, cough).
Have you ever worked overseas? Or do you aspire to do it one day? Is there a life for expats outside English teaching? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!