Making the most of your job search

Are you getting ready to find a job overseas?  Awesome.  This is a life changing event so enjoy the whole process!

If you’re new to this industry, you’ll quickly learn the unique aspects of the field.   With a few simple points you can really make sure you stand out to the right employer.

First, be sure to get the timeline right.  Visa processes vary by country and even by city, but a general rule of thumb is to get the application process started between three and six months before you want to go abroad.  While there are always exceptions, much sooner than that makes it difficult to get paperwork together in time.  Larger language schools can hire up to a year in advance, but if you are looking very far out then you will be limited to them, or to other organizations that have just one hiring season.  Private language organizations typically hire year round but public and international schools will have a specific timeline.  Either way, do some research on what type of place you want to apply to and then apply early (but not too early).

After you know when you want to go abroad and what type of organization you want to apply to, have a look at your resume.  First and most important is to make sure it’s easy to understand.  Don’t list your Wisconsin address if you’re in Vietnam, for example.  Have a clear timeline of your work history with dates of employment and job descriptions that are in bullet points, not paragraph form.  Additionally, if you were previously applying for positions in a different field, make sure you update the resume to match this field.  It’s ok if you don’t have experience, just put a statement of purpose at the top about making a career change and delete unnecessary information (such as your publications).  Additionally, don’t forget the basics.  Check your spelling and put in a little effort.  Given the volume of applications that come through with zero attention to the specific role or company, if you put in even minimal time you are sure to stand out at the very start of the process.  Lastly, include a cover letter that is specific to the organization.  You don’t have to re-write it completely for every job you apply to, but make some small updates for each job and the recruiters will take note.

Next up, the interview.  Most interviews will take place remotely on Skype, WeChat, or some other video format.  When preparing for this, be sure you are prepared, humble, and professional.  Even if you aren’t sure this is the right position for you, it’s best to treat every interview with your best effort.  This means that you should be sure you check the Skype or whatever medium you are using so you don’t spend the first few minutes of troubleshooting technical issues.  Also, dress professionally and be aware of what will show up on the video.  A tee shirt makes a lasting impression in a very negative way.  As for your own presentation, be sure you have the right combination of humility and confidence.  While it’s good to be proud of your experience and achievements, you don’t want to be a blowhard.  Be prepared to talk about experiences you’ve had getting feedback, handling difficult situations at work, and working with different kinds of people.  Recruiters want to see that you are going to make a good addition to their team, not be someone who is unable to learn or adapt to a  new environment.

Of course, all of this is pretty intuitive as long as you remember the details are everything.  This is not an industry where you have to have experience that perfectly aligns with the job.  It’s attitude and attention to detail that mean everything.