The Networking Guide
for International Work: Part 2
Clarify Your Networking Goals: Your International Job Search Statement
Building a network for your international job search is most effective when you have clarity about your ideal job.
Some people try to broaden their chances by saying “I will take any international job anywhere.” This strategy backfires for two reasons:
1. You won’t really take any job anywhere, will you? Nanny for triplets in Tripoli? Public relations officer for an oil company that just had a spill in the Amazon? Land mine detonator in rural Afghanistan? Probably not.
2. People who want to help you will be stuck if you don’t give them some guidance about what you want to do and where you want to work.
So save your time and others by adding focus to your job search... and to your networking.
I suggest creating an International Job Search Statement, a document of a page or less that clarifies
- Where you want to work (city, country or region)
- The field you want to work in
- The type of organization where you want to work (such as nonprofit, school, or business)
- What you offer potential employers (including technical skills, soft skills, and language skills)
- Your timeline
- Your salary requirements
- Other relevant information
You will then draw from this document when you start your networking.
Note: If you are really unclear about what you want and can’t come up with a Job Search Statement, you can build a different sort of network — a group of friends and mentors to help you get to know yourself and explore different career possibilities. I won’t focus on this type of network, but would direct you to Resources section of this guide for suggestions.
Sample Job Search Statement for an International Job
I’d like to find a job or paid internship in Central America, preferably in Costa Rica.
I would like to work in the environmental field. My background is in environmental education but I could also work in environmental research, advocacy, or conservation.
My written and spoken Spanish is fluent. I studied abroad in Ecuador, traveled in Spain this past summer, and have taken three upper level Spanish classes.
I will be available to start work overseas after I graduate on May 15 this year. I would like to find an opportunity for a year or more, but I would be open to a shorter-term assignment.
My skills and experiences include
- Strong writing skills in Spanish and English.
- Volunteer work in an outdoor education program that worked with K-12 students in a US National Park.
- An internship doing research about indigenous plants for a local nonprofit in San Francisco.
- Strong computer skills including the MS Office Suite and website design.
In terms of salary or stipend, I have saved enough to fly to Central American but I need to earn enough for room, board, and spending money. I will take care of my own shots and emergency medical insurance.
You can start by cutting and pasting the example above, then substituting the country and field where you want to work, as well as your specific skills and salary requirements. Make sure your goals are reasonable. The (hypothetical) young woman who wrote the box above could probably get a paid internship in a national forest or a job as an environmental education teacher at a private school. But getting a high level management job at an international organization in Costa Rica would probably not be realistic for her until she gets more experience.
In this economy, some tips to assess if your goals are realistic:
- Make sure you have some experience in the field you want to work in. If you don’t, start by gaining experience by volunteering locally. See www.idealist.org or www.volunteermatch.org to find options.
- Check the economy in the country and region you want to volunteer. If the economy has been on a downturn and unemployment is high, you’ll have to be more flexible, maybe considering an internship or service job such as waitressing, rather than a professional job. Teaching jobs are often easier to find than other sectors. As of this writing (2012), countries like Greece will be more challenging than China. But even in Europe, there are thousands of jobs, you just have to know how to find them. See Resources (link) for how to research economic and other realities in the country where you want to work.
Once you’ve drafted a Job Search Statement, consider showing it to a supportive friend or mentor who can help you polish it. The career center of your alma mater may have someone who could look at it for you and help you clarify any parts of the Job Search Statement that you are unclear about.
Ok, you have your International Job Search Statement? Now, you’re ready to start building your network to help you get that dream job.