How to find a job abroad

Today, I will share some tips on how to find a job in a foreign country. This is just my personal observation on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to landing my first interview with a foreign company. It may not work for everyone but it’s a good place to start.

When I first initiated my job search, I encountered several problems:

  1. I didn’t have a strong LinkedIn profile.
    • At the time, I only listed where I worked and what my responsibilities were in each position with no highlights.
    • I didn’t even have a profile summary.
    • My profile image didn’t even look professional at all.
  2. My English writing skill was not good.
    • I was still making grammar mistakes in my writing, especially on LinkedIn.
    • The emails or chat messages that I sent to recruiters did not sound professional.
  3. Outside of Vietnam, nobody recognised my company.
    • The company was quite famous in Vietnam. A lot of my friends (or even friends of friends) knew how exceptional it was. However, it’s nowhere visible in the world map.
    • A foreign recruiter isn’t gonna spend time to do research on a local company to understand that it is a good brand. He/she has a lot of applications from all over the world on his/her email every day. If my company name does not ring a bell, he/she will move on to the next candidate.
  4. I didn’t know anyone in any foreign companies.
    • I was totally on my own. No friends, no network, no connection, nothing.

I realised that these problems needed to be solved first before I could even think of applying for a job.

For problem 1 & 2, I can easily do a Google search and read all the solutions. It’s quite a basic topic though, that is “being professional on LinkedIn and emails”.

Today, I will only focus on 3 & 4, which is: how to find a job abroad even if I know nobody and my company is not famous worldwide.

The most important thing when applying for a job is how I stand out among thousands of other applicants. It’s not the Vietnamese that I was competing with, but rather people from all over the world.

This is way harder because that’s when I need to be very creative. If I just do like everyone else does, I will get the same result, which is “no interview”.

I have to think differently and do different things.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Find where the recruiters are and create values there:
    • When I looked for an iOS job in Singapore, I knew that recruiters often checked on some Facebook groups to look for potential candidates. In my case, it was the iOS Dev Scout. (There are other groups for other technologies too)
    • I read through most of the posts on that Facebook group and tried to understand how people interacted with each other.
    • I started to write blog posts and shared over there every week.
    • I got many likes and thanks from people. Someone even messaged me asking for more technical questions about my post.
    • After 1-2 months, I started to receive my first few interview invitations from Singapore companies.
  2. Stand on the shoulder of giants:
    • In case of applying for Facebook US, there was no group to focus on. I had to find another way.
    • Fortunately, some of my blog posts went viral on Twitter:
      • My posts were shared and discussed in many Facebook groups.
      • I got praises from RayWenderLich.
      • I got an invitation from AppCoda to write on their website.
      • I got featured in an iOS weekly newsletter.
    • Then I wrote for AppCoda. You can find the article here: A Beginner’s Guide to Automated UI Testing in iOS. I knew that AppCoda was not as famous as RayWenderLich, but at least it was something special. Something not every candidate was willing to do.
    • Then I highlighted these 3 features in my one-page CV:
      • Wrote a guest post on AppCoda (with link).
      • Had a weekly blog about automated testing on iOS (with link).
      • At work, I specialized in iOS automated testing, especially Test-driven-development (TDD). This was unusual at the time because not many people wrote about this topic so I guess it also contributed to my chance of getting an interview.
    • Then I applied directly in the Facebook hiring website.

These are just the things that I did and they worked for me. Other than that, there are plenty of ways to stand out, for example:

  • Give a talk at a major event in Vietnam. Remember to record the session 😄
  • Volunteer to give a talk in a foreign country. For example, when you register to become a speaker at a meetup in Singapore, you may get invited. Even if they reject, they will tell you what they’re looking for, then you can just fulfil that.
  • Doing open source work:
    • Actively contribute to a famous library on GitHub. Make sure you give a link that can demonstrate how much you contributed to that library.
    • Create your own library on GitHub and share with other people. For a library to be noticeable to the recruiter, it should have at least 100-1000 stars.
  • Generally, you have to create real values for people and earn recognition by yourself.

Among 1000 candidates, only less than 100 people would do any of these things, the rest would just send their CV blindly and pray for luck. Therefore, if you can do it, you will stand out. You will be on top of the list for an interview.

Good luck on your job search.

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