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International Careers

The Networking Guide for International Work: Part 3

Who to Contact about International Jobs: Getting to the Person Who Can Hire You

Once you have clarified your goals for your job search, you’ll want to divide your contacts into three groups: Bulleyes, Bows, and Arrows, and the Field.

When you start out, most of your contacts will be in the Field. I will show you strategies find the Bulleyes. But first let’s clarify who is who.




Your Action

Bulls eyes

The people who have the power to hire you.

  • A park director in Costa Rica.
  • The HR manager at a large nonprofit organization with offices in South Africa.
  • A recruiter for a school that needs teachers in China.

Send a resume with a fabulous cover letter asking for a job—even if there are no announced openings. Follow up with a call in a few days.

Bows and Arrow

The people who know Bulleyes and can connect you.

  • A professor who lead a study abroad trip to Costa Rica.
  • An employee of a large nonprofit organization in South Africa.
  • A friend of a friend who taught in China.

Meet in person (or call) to learn from them and see if they can connect you with the Bulleye.

The Field

Everyone else: Your contacts who might know Bows, Arrows, and Bulleyes

The four F’s

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Faculty
  • Faith community

The two W’s

  • Work
  • Web

The two S’s

  • Schools
  • Service clubs

Email, social networking, and informal chats

Each of these types of contacts requires a different action. Let’s start in the field, because that’s where most people start their networking.

Field: Telling Everyone You Know about Your Job Search

In the field, you should find easy ways to spread the news of your job search to as many people as possible.

I favor an online approach: Email combined with Facebook work is fine for most of us, combined with informal chats with people you see regularly.

For these folks, you just need to tell them the basics and ask if they have ideas for you. Go back to the Job Search Statement and adapt it for this purpose. Here’s an example:

Subject: Know anyone who has been to Costa Rica?

Hi Friends,

I’d like to find a job or paid internship in Central America, preferably in Costa Rica, starting in May. I would like to work in the environmental field. Do you know anyone who has been to Costa Rica, including anyone who has worked, traveled, volunteered, or studied there? If so, would you kindly reply to this email and copy that person, or pass on his or her name and contact information.



Think carefully about whom to send this email to. You probably know more people than you realize. With the advent of Facebook, tracking down past contacts is easier than ever. I suggest using the “Four F’s and Two W’s” to guide your brainstorming about who to contact. You can personalize the email as needed.

Your Field of Four F’s and Two W’s: Friends, Family, Faculty, Faith, Work, and Web


Of course you should contact your current group of buddies. Then go mentally back to your elementary, junior high, and high school friends. Think about college roommates, friends from camp, and summer jobs — anyone who would like to hear from you, and might like to help you find your dream job.


Don’t be shy about letting family know about your job search. Dig deep into the family tree, including second cousins, relatives by marriage, and distant relatives you find on sites such as If you have an unusual last name, Facebook may turn up cousins in far flung places.


Even if you graduated long ago, your professors still want to hear from you.  They will be happy that you remember them and (if true) that your desire to go overseas was influenced by their classes. Think of language professors, regional or development studies, even history and literature. Professors tend to be connected internationally to others in their discipline. You can even contact professors who did not teach you if you think they may be well connected in the country where you want to work.


Your local congregation or national affiliates may have members or employees who have travelled to the country where you want to go. Ask the leader of the congregation or the chair of the social action committee to forward your message to the email list or to contacts at the denomination’s national office. If you’re an atheist, try the local Ethical Humanist Society.


Unless you are conducting a stealth search, you’ll probably find your co-workers to be very helpful in your job search, since they each have their own contacts in your area of expertise. Chose 2-3 colleagues who you think might be most helpful, and get together for coffee or after work to share your dream and get their suggestions.


You might be surprised to find that “cold calls” to people you find through the web can be an effective way to build your network. I suggest reaching out to expats and/or Peace Corps volunteers in the country where you want to work; find them by searching for blogs. You can use Facebook or LinkedIn to contact them; be sure to use the individual message feature, and personalize the message. Don’t use the default or try to friend someone you have not met without sending a personal message first.

Jeanette, I saw your blog and really liked the post about how hard it has been to learn Urdu. I seek work in the NGO sector in India. Would you be willing to tell me how you found your job and share any tips for finding jobs there?

If your network still seems a bit thin, consider the two S’s: School and Service Clubs:

Schools. Contact the alumni department at your university and request help connecting with alum in your field or country of choice.

Service or skills clubs. My favorites are Rotary (often very internationally minded people), Optimist International, Toastmasters, or Jaycees. In most locations, it’s easy to find a local chapter and you will find a welcome reception.

Bows and Arrows: Contacts who Can Connect You with the People with the Power to Hire

Once you reach out to a large number of contacts in the field, you’ll start getting suggestions of people who might know of jobs overseas.

Now it’s time to develop your contact management system. I favor a Google Documents spreadsheet, using categories like the following


Organization and Contact Info

Who Referred Me?


Actions and Communications

Professor Carmelino

University of New Mexico

Sandra did study abroad with him

Sandra says he is very helpful and has lots of experience and contacts in Costa Rica.

Wrote email Feb 20. Follow up by visiting during office hours on Feb 28 if he does not respond.

Use any system you like, but make sure you have a system.

Each of the people on the Bow and Arrow list deserves a personalized approach. Call the person or write an individualized email that mentions how you got in contact with them, what you seek, and what you think they might offer.

Subject: Seeking contact with environmental NGOs in Costa Rica

Dear Professor Carmelino,

My friend Sandra Eggert suggested I contact you. She participated in your study abroad trip last summer.

I am seeking to work in Costa Rica in the environmental field. I will graduate in May with a BA in Spanish. My resume is attached for your information.

Sandra thought you could put me in touch with some individuals who work for environmental NGOs in Costa Rica. I would be so grateful if you could pass on any suggestions. I would appreciate your ideas by email, or if it is easier, I will stop by during your office during office hours on Feb 28.

Many thanks,

Ronnie Carpintero

For someone your age, a more informal approach would work:

Script for call or text:

Hi Jake, this is Tommy. I am looking for environmental work in Central America. I know you did your study abroad in Nicaragua and I’m hoping you have time to get a cup of coffee and let me ask you some questions. Would next Tuesday at 2 p.m. work for you?

 Read Other Sections of the International Networking Guide
Part 1: The Networking Guide for International Employment
Part 2: Clarify Your Networking Goals: Your International Job Search Statement
Part 4: Once You Have Identified the Bullseye: Reaching Out to Get Hired Overseas
Part 5: Case Studies in Success: True Stories of Networking for International Work
Part 6: Ethical Networking: The Ten Commandments of Reaching Out in a Principled Way
Part 7: International Networking for Shy People and Introverts
Part 8: Resources for Networking for International Jobs

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