If you want to work abroad, it’s always best to set something up before you go, when possible. If you don’t have employment lined up then it’s a good idea to have some money saved up to tide you over, just in case you don’t find anything quickly enough when you get there.
If you’re looking for employment as a European Union worker in any of the Member States you should get equal treatment with nationals, in theory at least. If you’re interested in working in Europe, look at the Careers Europe database. This contains all kinds of advice and factsheets, and can be accessed via your local Careers Service (number in your local phone book), or nearest Employment Job Centre. Some schools and colleges also have access.
It has never been easier for UK residents to work in this area. European Employment Services (aka EURES) is working towards free movement of workers within the 17 countries of the European Economic Area (EEA). This partnership is coordinated by the European Commission. Their website has a searchable jobs database, which also contains a few non-EEA jobs.
Volunteering overseas can be a common idea. It looks great on a CV, especially if you find something in an area you’d like to work in one day, and it is a big confidence boost. You will build up new skills and knowledge too.
Try to pick a reputable agency if you want to do voluntary work abroad. Many gap year companies are commercial concerns who ask you for a lot of money up front, and then give you little or no support when you get out there. Ask around friends and relatives to see who they recommend and have a look at the gapyear.com website, and our Gap Year articles.
Temporary or seasonal work
A lot of employment opportunities can come around tourist season. Think about bar work or tour reps in warmer countries, or ski instruction and chalet work in the winter. You might be interested in fruit picking, cruise ship duties, a ‘counsellor’ for Camp America, childcare, catering, or casino work.
It can be really hard work at times, and you need to be a ‘people person’, with a good sense of humour, and a reasonable level of fitness. Try a local travel agency to find out what kind of staff will be needed.
Longer-term employment such as Au-Pair work and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) can be a good way to get an in-depth taste of what a country is really like. You are often required to have certain qualifications and certificates, and placements tend to be done through agencies. Again, ask around and see who other people recommend.
Keep an eye on the national papers for vacancies abroad, or think about applying to overseas branches of companies that have offices in the UK. EURES have all kinds of long-term and permanent employment prospects on their database. There are also several online employment agencies with worldwide vacancies.
Contact the UK-based embassy for the country of your choice to find out about work permits, visas, benefits, and necessary qualifications. If it’s a permanent move you’ll need to ask about residency or ‘indefinite leave to remain’. Apply to embassies as far in advance as you possibly can, because it can often take several weeks for them to sort out the correct paperwork.