About a year ago, I moved to Hong Kong for a job and to this day, I still think it was the best career decision I could have made. Since I made the move, I’ve gotten a few people asking me how I did it and the process that comes with job hunting abroad. Worry not, I’m here to spill all the tips so you too can find yourself living that ~international~ life.
Figure out your motivation
First things first, you need to figure out your motivation for making the move.
What makes you want to move to that new city/country? Is it because that place has a better career prospect? Are you looking to learn a certain skill set? Is there any personal connection between you and the place you are moving to?
I’ve found that establishing this is very important before you even start the job hunting process. This serves not only as a motivation to go back to for when you feel like giving up on your job search, but it is also important to have a story to tell during the interview process. 9 out of 10 times when you do land an interview, they will ask you why you are looking to relocate – and your answer could show just how dedicated and passionate you are as a person. A great attribute to have as a potential employee.
Find (or make) your connection
They say it is not about what you know, it’s who you know. In a situation like this, this sentiment cannot be truer.
During my job hunting process, I truly learned the importance of networking – something I had been lacking beforehand. If you don’t feel like you have anyone you know that is currently living at the place that you’d like to be in, don’t worry. You can always make new connections.
But, how do I do this?
- First, look into your alumni network. Go on LinkedIn and search by your university and location. Then go through the list of people until you see anyone who’s doing something that you are interested in. It doesn’t have to be the exact job you want, but it helps if they are working in a similar field.
- Then, reach out to those people. Tell them that you are also alumni of the school and that you are looking into making a move to a new place. Believe it or not, people, especially those who share the same background as you, will most likely help you out.
- Ask them if they can help you get started by passing some knowledge, through coffee chats or even a quick phone call. This half-hour conversation could do you wonders and help point you in the right direction.
In my case, the person I reached out to via LinkedIn ended up becoming my mentor who then guided me through the entire process – even after I got my offer and needed help negotiating my salary. To this day, she is still one of my favorite people in Hong Kong, and I know I can always count on her if I ever need any advice.
People love helping students as a way to give back to their alumni school and chances are, they are also excited for you to join them at this new place. So don’t be shy, start the conversation, and let networking do its wonders.
Research, research, research
Just like learning anything new, research will be very important in this process. This includes finding websites to apply to, interview tips, salary requirements, housing prospects… the list is endless.
Here are some useful sites to get you started:
Whub: Great for startups job – especially because it shows if the company is willing to sponsor you or not (more on this later) and the salary range that you’ll be getting. Similarly, AngelList is another one that is also great for startups jobs – it’s also quite international, so it’s applicable in other places, from London to Austin to India.
Payscale: Find what you are worth and the market salary for your desired role. This is VERY important if you are thinking of moving to a place that is expensive, like New York, San Francisco, or Hong Kong.
Cost of Living: Going along with the salary, it is also important to know how much you need to make or have to have a liveable life in your new city. Websites like this give a good estimation on average living costs, from rent to daily expenses to healthcare.
Housing: Once you find your job, the next important thing is to make sure you have a place to live. Hong Kong, in particular, is well known for its expensive rent and rooms rent out so fast around here. A tip for the housing hunt is to utilize Facebook Groups. There’s so many of them and these are a lot more foreign friendly compared to the local websites. You can start with this, and venture out to the many other similar ones.
Understand the visa requirement
One thing that might slip your mind, is a visa. Before and during your job hunting and during your application phase, do your research on the type of visa you will need and the requirements that come with it. In my personal experience, getting the visa was actually a LOT harder than landing the job interviews and getting the offer as some governments are now limiting the number of foreign workers in their country as a way to promote their own talents. I’ve heard that this is the case for Singapore, and even Hong Kong is now stricter than before, but definitely do your research on this.
Just do it
Now that you’ve done your research, it’s time to just go for it. Craft your resume and apply to as many jobs as you can (and track them on a spreadsheet or something similar) and just keep going until you land those interviews.
Keep in mind that at the end of the day, job searching is just a number game — the more companies you apply to, the more likely you’ll hear back from some. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get an interview immediately, or if you feel like you are not getting anywhere because believe me, we’ve all been there.