Emerging Practitioner: Build your Humanitarian career  Online course

5 Basics to Get a Job Overseas

Monday, Aug 27, 2018
by Humanitarian Institute

5 basics

Dreamed of working in a distant land on a project that matters?

You may have even applied to a few jobs in the hopes of securing that dream. But chances are you’ve now discovered that the nuts and bolts of getting a job overseas can resemble a nightmare.

Between the myths, competition, skill gaps, and remote recruitment process, it may feel like it’s impossible to achieve that dream.

But it’s not!


1. Diversify Your Resource Base

Don’t limit yourself to the stock standard international humanitarian and development job sites. Zero in on the preferred location and organisation(s) you’re targeting. You have a better chance getting a job that’s directly aligned to your niche skill set and preferences.


2. Network, Network, Network

An oldie but a goody;)

Odds are you know a friend, neighbour, professor, or colleague who has global contacts or experience. Send emails, make calls, and talk to people you know and people you meet. The more people you speak with, the more likely someone is to think of you when they hear of a role opening – this happens online as well e.g. LinkedIn.

Your Uni may also have an alumni directory that is searchable by geography. Contacting a fellow alum who works internationally is a cool way to establish a connection in the country you want to go.


3. Know The Space

The international humanitarian sector is not what NGO marketing campaigns make out.

It’s not all fluffy bunnies and good intentions.

It is complex, challenging, frustrating and full of people and organisations intent on taking advantage of marginalised people. To avoid the nasties:

  • Research the sector and organisations
  • Find out what international positions are like
  • In what regions of the world is demand highest?
  • What skill sets are in demand (hint, good intentions is not a skill)
  • What support you can expect to be offered by your employer?

If you’re interested in the humanitarian field, it’s best to understand the space before you set career goals and make the change.

Become informed. Don’t make decisions based on assumption... our world is full of enough of that at the moment.

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4. Consider an Overseas Program

Leverage your time at university to launch your international career.

Universities are great because they provide international opportunities, scholarships, internships etc. in a structured and networked manner. But these opportunities don’t come looking for you. Go speak with your Lecturer or Course Coordinator and understand what exists for you now and into the future.

Yes, global programs, internships and courses can be pricey, but there are also less expensive options to pursue. It’s about striking a balance between the short and long term. Job vs career.


5. Get Active

The reality is you won’t be walking into your dream job straight out of University or school. Your role is to identify the job pathway that is required and target the positions that you are competitive for... earlier the better i.e. don’t wait until year 4. Start career planning and actioning by at least year 2.

Your first may feel far from your dream job, but it’s your springboard. Remember, it’s always easier to find your second job in a country once you’ve gotten there!

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