The Best Jobs for Americans Abroad

The recession may technically be over, but let’s be honest, the economy and the job market are still hurting. Unemployment continues to hover around 10%, and the government recently announced that barely 40,000 jobs were added to the private sector last month. When you combine the tough reality Americans are facing right now with the looming fear that we may encounter a double-dip recession down the road, the idea of moving abroad starts to sound very attractive.

“Many are pursuing alternatives to traditional careers or jobs in other countries,” said Gregory Hubbs, the editor-in-chief of TransitionsAbroad.com, an online guide for working and living abroad. “People are pursuing jobs abroad, which are not as available here in the U.S., often as a permanent step towards a long-term career or as a way to ‘ride out’ the slow economy at home.” Perhaps for this reason, organizations like the Peace Corps that place people overseas reported an astounding 18% increase in applications during the past year.

According to Hubbs, Americans of all ages and backgrounds are considering jobs overseas right now. Students and older Americans who have been laid off in recent years are sending off their resumes to exotic destinations in hopes to land volunteering jobs, teaching positions, freelance writing posts, hospitality offerings and more. With that in mind, we asked a few experts for tips on what you need to know before applying for jobs abroad. We also scoured the Internet for some sweet overseas gigs that you can apply for right now.

Even Abroad, It’s All About Who You Know

Once you get the urge to move abroad, it can be hard to suppress, but before you flee halfway around the world, you might want to visit your HR person first. “If you’re currently employed check to see if your company has any international positions available,” said Mike Werch, a spokesperson for Indeed.com, the popular job search engine. This simple step could cut out a lot of application time and make the transition abroad all that much easier since you’ll still be a part of a company you know well.

However, if you are currently unemployed or eager to escape the job you have, the most important step, according to Werch, is to research the job market and cost of living in any country you’re interested in moving to, not to mention the culture of that place. Is English a popular language there? Is there some kind of American ex-pat community you could tap into? And perhaps most importantly, do you know people there? “If you have limited personal contacts in the country you may face some difficulty getting noticed,” Werch said.

The Value of Social Networks

Once you’ve picked out the countries that fit your needs best, the next obstacle is to find a reputable company where you’d enjoy working. “It's always important for the job seeker to do their due-diligence during their search to make sure that the jobs they're looking at are legitimate,” said Danielle Galarneau, a spokesperson for SimplyHired.com, a job search Web site. She recommends looking beyond the company’s job posting and finding them on social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook to get “the inside scoop” about the company. “What are people saying about it? Due-diligence such as this will quickly help job seekers to spot scam jobs.” Similarly, Hubbs encourages you to ask to grill other employees at the company.

Beyond this, Galarneau also recommends that job hunters research recent events that the company has held and try to find out more about your industry’s trends abroad. Perhaps most importantly, try to get as many informational interviews as you can with your potential employer, whether it’s in person if you can afford to visit the country, or through Skype.

Should Relocation Costs Be Covered?

One big factor for many considering a move abroad is whether your relocation costs will be covered. Unfortunately, according to Galarneau, the answer more often than not is no. “Some employers might offer to assist with any relocation costs, but that varies from company to company, as well as by position,” she said. “Companies might be more willing to help relocate a senior-level executive, but not as willing to help relocate a more junior-level role.”

What’s more, you should be wary of any company that claims they will flood you with benefits and perks for moving abroad. While some higher-ups may receive generous offerings, Galarneau cautions that this could also be a sign of a hiring scam.

What Effect Will It Have on Your Resume?

One last thing you might worry about before accepting a job abroad is how it might affect your job prospects should you decide to return to the U.S. Will an American company view your experience abroad to be irrelevant, or worse, a sign that no company here wanted to hire you? Not as long as you continue to gain experience in the same or similar profession.

“I don't think taking a job in a different country affects your prospects at all, provided you're getting relevant experience in your field,” said Alexandra Levitt, author of New Job, New You. “All job opportunities should be examined from that angle, and overseas opportunities are no different.  If anything, an overseas job might improve your resume because it will show a more broad cultural understanding and an ability to succeed in a global work environment.”

So now that you’ve got a little background on how to apply for a job, here are a few examples of positions that Americans can get abroad right now.

Hospitality Jobs

One popular option abroad is to find a job working at a hotel or restaurant. If you’re interested in going this route, then definitely bookmark the site CatererGlobal.com. Here you can find jobs working as a sushi chef at the Sheraton Hotel in Ethiopia or as a bar manager at the Grand Millennium hotel in Abu Dhabi.

Psychologist in Japan

Many of the best jobs for Americans abroad are offered through the federal government. For example, the U.S. Air Force is currently looking to hire a psychologist at their base in Japan. The job pays between $52,000 and $106,000 depending on experience.

Media Relations for JP Morgan Chase

It may not be too popular to work for a bank right now in America, so why not work for one abroad instead? JP Morgan Chase is currently hiring a media relations and internal communications manager to work in the bank’s London office. The salary isn’t listed, but come on, it is JP Morgan. They take care of their own.

Teaching Jobs

Several organizations offer teaching jobs including Council on International Educational Exchange and the U.S. State Department. We found a posting to teach English in Korea, which pays between $1,600 and $2,700 a month. You must have a four-year college degree and speak English (which we hope you do, or else I’m not sure why you’ve read up to this point.)

Au Pair

An au pair is essentially a glorified nanny who gets the benefit of living and working with a family abroad. The job may not be ideal for those looking to boost their career skills, but if you want to make some extra money and have the opportunity to explore countries abroad, then this could be your dream ticket. There are positions available in parts of Europe, Asia, South America and North America, and of course the pay varies from place to place. The jobs can last for a summer or for a year or more. Typically, all of your living expenses will be covered and you’ll be paid about $100 a week on top of that.

Travel Writer

According to Hubbs, the editor of TransitionsAbroad, one of the common jobs that people pursue abroad is to work for a travel publication or start up their own, perhaps while working another position simultaneously. These positions are typically freelance and the pay varies from publication to publication. Frommers and Lonely Planet, two popular travel guides, both have ongoing job listings on their site, as do Web sites like The Examiner.

To help you decide which country you want to work in, check out MainStreet's list of the countries with the most vacation time.

—For a comprehensive credit report, visit the BankingMyWay.com Credit Center.

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