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Tips for Moving Abroad Without a Job

When looking for a position abroad, job seekers typically try to find work sooner rather than later. By the time you get on a plane for Paris or Singapore, you want to know your salary, your new boss and maybe even the date you'll be returning.

But not everyone is compelled to have a job lined up when moving to another country. For some, especially for workers without established career or who are just eager for time overseas, a just-do-it philosophy takes hold. Caution is thrown to the wind, career goals are put on hold and the overriding desire for that international experience motivates the job seeker to find some sort of work in a new home.

"There is no time like the present," says Mary Mader, who moved to Australia and found a job as an international marketing consultant for a Perth interior design firm. "If anyone has had ideas about doing something like this, I really encourage them to just go for it."

Here are five tips for anyone planning to take the bold step of moving to another country without a job lined up:

Research Your Destination

Embracing an action-oriented philosophy doesn't mean packing your bags without knowing how to say "hello" in Hebrew or "Where is the Louvre" in French. If anything, moving abroad without a job lined up requires additional planning, as your knowledge of a country's language and customs -- especially with regard to work permits and job hunting -- will likely play a role in your success there. In particular, scout out the options available there. Is teaching English a possibility? Find the relevant contacts before you leave, rather than while you're trying to get used to a foreign phone system.

Network in Advance

By the time you depart, your Palm Pilot should have the names of five people, at the very least, to contact once you arrive. These need not be professional contacts -- just individuals with whom you can meet in a cafe, learn the names of other contacts, and start meeting people to help you locate job opportunities. Contacts matter in any job search, but they're essential when you don't know the country and your command of the language is shaky.

Know How Long Your Money Will Last

Unless you're certain you've got in-demand skills, plan on a minimum of three months without a paycheck. You would be wise to plan for six months. Unless you can embark on the trip feeling your funds will be well spent, no matter what comes of it, don't do it. You want to be able to return home with grace, not grief about what might have been.

Be Ready for Anything

If you're a bond trader expecting to land a position in the financial industry in Italy or Thailand, you may need to reevaluate your plans. Basically, in order for this sort of plan to work, you have to be willing to accept all different sorts of assignments in the interim -- childcare, dog-walking, bartending. That's part of the reason this plan is typically more attractive to people in their twenties. You may not have to walk dogs for months, but opportunities tend to multiply, according to expats, and if you begin to accept one or two jobs -- however far from the ideal -- you're likely to find others in the future.

Have an Exit Strategy

Things not working out for you in Milan or Melbourne? You need to have an exit strategy -- a plan for returning to the US and finding work here. More than anything, that means keeping channels open with friends, colleagues and former bosses in the US. With email and the Internet, that's easier than ever. Store your resume somewhere online, like on Monster.com, for easy reference, and have it ready to go when you decide to return. You'll even be able to apply for jobs before you get back.

 

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