Applying for Jobs Abroad : P1 — Job portals, Resumes & More…
I’m a software engineer from Sri Lanka who had approximately 5 years of experience in the software industry before I relocated to New Zealand on a talent work visa in January of 2019. With covid-19 running rampant around the world and seeing a number of my friends and colleagues being put out of a job recently, I decided to write this little piece in case it benefits anyone looking to relocate to another country or even help them in prepping for interviews locally once our lives go back to normal. I will be writing mainly on my experience as an IT professional, but I’m sure you can translate and apply most of what I’m putting down below regardless of whether or not you work in IT.
I decided to relocate abroad somewhere around July 2018, preferably to either New Zealand, Canada or Australia, and the first thing I did was speak to others who were either abroad, or applying for visas abroad. What I found out was all of them either applied for student visas to go study abroad then eventually worked there, or they applied as Skilled Migrants. Neither option would work for me. I wasn’t interested in studying abroad, and when it came to Skilled Migrant visas, I felt like it was too much of a risk. You would have to go abroad as a Skilled Migrant without a job, and then look for interviews while you burn through your savings in a foreign country all by yourself. And in the worst case scenario, if you don’t get hired soon enough, that’s gonna turn out a nightmare. I rather preferred having a job waiting for me when I landed in a foreign country so that I had some sort of stability. However, if this is your thing, I have listed the points calculators for some countries below where you can check your eligibility. Note that each country would have a different cut off mark for you to be eligible as a skilled migrant (if I remember correct, NZ is somewhere around165 points, Canada 420 maybe?, Australia I have no idea whatsoever). You can look up the cut off points online.
- New Zealand : https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas/apply-for-a-visa/tools-and-information/tools/points-indicator-smc-28aug
- Canada : https://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/skilled/crs-tool.asp
- Australia : https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-support/tools/points-calculator
PS — Also you don’t need IELTS for work visas in New Zealand. I’m not sure about other countries though.
Like I mentioned earlier, I was more interested in applying for jobs abroad and getting offers, while residing in Sri Lanka and the rest of this article is just gonna be about that. This would suit you if you are the right age (25–40), and have good experience in whatever industry you are in (I’d say minimum 3 years). The whole process also costs drastically less compared to skilled migrant or student visas. I spent less that 120,000 LKR for everything except for my flight tickets.
Do a little research on Immigration policies
The first thing I did, and what I advise you to do is to read up on immigration policies regarding workers from abroad in the countries you are interested in. I was mainly interested in New Zealand & Canada. So the first step was to ensure that these countries would provide me with a work or skilled migrant visa if I do get a job offer. There is clearly no point in applying for jobs in a country whose immigration policies do NOT allow foreign workers. Even the company is just going to simply ignore your resume, soon as they find out that you don’t have residency or working rights.
In New Zealand, if you are hired by a company that is an Accredited Employer, you are granted a Talent Work visa by the immigration authority. You can find a full list of accredited employers for New Zealand here : https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas/apply-for-a-visa/tools-and-information/tools/accredited-employers-list. I’d suggest you first go through this list and make sure you have accredited employers in your line of work. Otherwise you will have to look at different options. In Canada too, once you get a job offer, you are eligible to apply for a visa using it. So you do get a lot of employers who recruit from abroad.
I mainly used Glassdoor & Indeed when applying for jobs. They work well for any country IMO. But I’ve listed a number of other portals below that you can use depending on the country you are targeting. In all these job portals, you can subscribe to the kinds of positions you are interested in, and you will get emails whenever a vacancy that fits your role is published.
Seek.com- Works well for jobs in Australia (https://www.seek.com.au/).
Monster.com- Works well for the MiddleEast (https://www.monster.com/).
Beware of Scammers!
Something that I experienced and want to warn you about is that once you upload your resume to numerous job portals and begin your job search, you are more than likely to be targeted by scammers who might email or phone you directly and convince you that you have landed a sweet role with a “prestigious” client of theirs, and that they need you to pay a “Processing fee” or “Administration Costs” before they can get you the job offer or put you in touch with the client. Never fall for this gimmick. Just tell them that if their client is so interested in you, then ask the client to make those payments. They will probably curse you and hang up then lol. But jokes aside, the bottom line is, don’t make any payments to anyone no matter how promising it sounds. It’s always a scam. No company is so broke that they want the recruitment agency to get paid from the interviewee.
Optimizing your Resume
I started applying for jobs in early August. And since this was the first time I was looking for job opportunities in almost 5 years, I had to create my resume from scratch. I did find paid software that made it easy to create a flashy resume, but I wanted to be able to easily update my resume whenever I wanted to, and keep it simple. So I used a Google doc instead. Its quite convenient and you can save it in your Google Drive and access it using any device. It also give you the option to download the doc as a pdf.
I had no luck whatsoever in my first month of job hunting. I applied for loads of vacancies, but never got a single response back from the HR department. The reason for this was, my CV wasn’t optimized and it was cluttered. In most companies, since they get hundreds or thousands of applications for a vacancy, they resort to using an Application Tracking System or ATS to first automatically read and compare the resumes against the job advert and only forward the resumes that closely match the job advert to HR.
One awesome tool I found online was Jobscan (https://www.jobscan.co/). This tool allows you to compare your resume against the job adverts you are interested in and tells you what the match rate is. This is a paid tool, but the first 3 tries are free. I simply used the first 3 tries to remove all the clutter & optimized my CV to match at least 60% against the usual job vacancies I was interested in. And just like that, as soon as I did this, I began hearing back a lot from the HR departments of the companies I applied to either scheduling for an interview, rejecting my application or asking me questions like whether I’ve got working rights, etc.
Here is a informative video by Jobscan on how ATS works and how you can improve your match rate :
And finally make sure you also include a Cover Letter along with your Resume. I tend to keep my Resume generic, and not amend it based on what company or position I apply for (since the Resume is about you), but I tailor my cover letter to the company. In your cover letter make sure you relay to the company, what benefit they get from hiring you instead of the others. You need to make the case as to why they should hire someone from abroad instead of hiring from their own backyard.
Just like any other typical developer I version control my Resume on Git. So you can find mine here if you wanna get some idea : https://github.com/rimaz523/Resume/blob/master/RimazMohommed.pdf
Optimize your Linkedin profile
One other thing you must do is optimize your profile on Linkedin. A lot of recruiters will no doubt look you up on Linkedin before calling you for an interview. Make sure you add a decent picture and flesh out all the sections like “About”, “Skills”, “Qualifications”, “Work Experience” etc. You can also use Jobscan when optimizing if you prefer, but I didn’t.
Linkedin also has a feature where you can take 5 minute MCQ tests to validate your knowledge on any skills you add under your profile. Taking these exams also help you cause Linkedin then recommends you to recruiters who look for applicants with such skills.
You can take a gander at my Linkedin profile here. Feel free to send me a connection request : https://www.linkedin.com/in/rimazmohommed/
I will be covering my experience in job interviews and the process of applying for and receiving my visa in subsequent parts of this series.