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6 Reasons to Work Overseas – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Jobs Abroad

6 Reasons to Work Overseas – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Hey, you just graduated from college. Congrats! How’s the job search going? Harder than you thought?

It’s a common problem for recent graduates in the U.S. You have spent the bulk of your life thus far studying and preparing, having been told repeatedly your education will ensure a great job. So you gussy up and send out your resume only to get callbacks from less than stellar employers in less than awesome positions.

Keep your chin up though. Maybe it’s just time to think about hopping on a plane and working abroad. Keep that college resume ready, because there are a plethora of great reasons to go and a lot of opportunity awaiting if you do.

Demand in other countries for American educated workers is high

The Good

From the range of places you’ll see, to the money you could make, to the friends you will find, the great reasons to get up and go abound. There are of course many more, but these are perhaps the most prominent rationale pulling Westerners overseas.

Good money to be made (even if you aren’t in tech)

There are some really good jobs for college grads, but a lot of these are cloistered STEM field positions that you can’t get unless you studied something like computer science. If you’re like me, and the 60+ percent of people who didn’t get a degree in STEM majors, you stand to make less and face greater competition. Unless you go abroad.

Demand in other countries for American educated workers is high. Even if your degree is in the humanities, there are plenty of opportunities for paid internships and jobs. Furthermore, just by changing your geography you expose yourself to types of professions you may not have considered before. There are plenty of unique, interesting jobs that expats are particularly well-suited to.

You get to see the world and broaden your horizons

Travel is one of the best ways to grow as a person, but actually living in another country takes personal development to a whole new level. You aren’t just worried about hotel reservations and tour schedules. You need to live among people from a different culture and navigate daily life from a vastly different perspective.

Furthermore, you are bound to make new friends and develop important contacts and networks. These new relationships could be the key to landing an even better job or starting your own business. It’s always smart to grow your social circle.  Living abroad helps you do that on an international scale.

The Bad

Unfortunately, there are some less than happy push factors driving recent college grads to consider jumping ship to another country. Anemic economies, lack of opportunity and flexibility, as well as outright boredom are driving people to search for better options overseas.

The job market isn’t that great

Technically speaking, the Great Recession is now in the past. Still, if it doesn’t feel that way, that’s probably because for most people it isn’t true. By some important metrics, the American unemployment rate is actually close to 10 percent. And if that number is high for Americans in general, it’s even worse for young college grads.

Even if you do land a job, is it what you want to be doing every day? Is it in the field you studied in? Many of the jobs that are available in the recovering economy simply aren’t that great, are part-time, or flat won’t help launch you into the career of your dreams. Well-meaning friends and family might recommend putting together an internship resume and taking even an unpaid position, but evidence suggests that route is a bad idea. So what can be done? A good way to circumvent the situation is to work overseas.

The cost of living is lower overseas

At this point you might argue, but jobs in other countries pay less, so why should I go? And in most cases, you’d be right. Oftentimes jobs overseas do pay less. However, living expenses are also significantly less. Many employers, realizing you are an expat, will often help you to arrange affordable – sometimes even free – housing.

The cost of living usually offsets the lower salaries offered, and many expat workers have been able to save large sums of money in short timeframes. Others have used this relative surplus of cash to pay off loans or simply live well where they are. However it is you want to spend your money, you will probably have more latitude with it than you would back home.

On paper you look a whole lot like the next guy

The Ugly

This could be hard to hear, but even more than the high cost of living and large unemployment rate, there are certain circumstances that make moving overseas a hugely attractive option. So, sorry to burst the bubble, but it’s time we heard about it.

You’re more in-demand somewhere else

We have been reared in a society that worked so hard to instill in us a sense of how special and unique we all were, but the truth is, on paper you look a whole lot like the next guy. Obviously you are unique and interesting, but in the cold, hard world of the job market, that just isn’t very significant to hiring managers.

However, in another country you are special. You’re different. You’re intrepid. You’re an outsider. You have an American education. You have skills and attributes that make you desirable in plenty of positions. True, those differences can be a double-edged sword, but in terms of finding something fulfilling to do, it becomes less of an uphill battle.

It isn’t going to get better

Ready for the big dose of medicine? The days of a house with two cars and a guaranteed pension on a single salary are over. For a range of reasons, but largely due to a globalizing world and more developed economies, your money won’t carry you as far as it did your parents. From here on out, it will be harder to buy a house, get credit, pay off debt, and work your way to the upper-echelons of the corporate world. Regardless of whether this is fair or right, your best chance for living the kind of life you want is realizing the kind of odds we face.

However, living abroad also works to address this relatively dim forecast. Globalization is a two-way street. Jobs might be moving to developing countries, so why shouldn’t you? Our generation might not live the same way our parents and grandparents did, but in some ways we are more free and cosmopolitan than anyone expected. Because really, would you rather drive a Ford Focus in Anytown USA, or would you prefer to see the world and build the kind of life no one ever planned for you?


Adam Hatch

Adam Hatch is a career adviser and hiring manager at resumegenius.com. Adam strives to provide the most useful advice to hard-working people from all walks of life. When he's not helping people get the best job possible, he is likely reading or exploring while working abroad himself.