More and more businesses are drawing from the international talent pool. On the other hand, increasing internationalisation of the labour market means that job-seekers must deal with ever-higher application standards if they want to make full use of international opportunities and not lose competitive advantages due to insufficient application documents.
How do I apply for a job abroad?
Applying for overseas positions (whether that be an internship or a job) is a very stressful affair for many students. There is, however, no need to panic. We have collected some basic rules which apply to all applications.
Generally speaking, all applications must be written in the language of the country where the job is located, unless the company has specifically stated that applications are to be written in English, for example. This means that no matter where you apply, you should have at least a basic command of the local language. The best way to fine-tune the application is to ask a native speaker to proofread the application documents.
It’s also a good idea to know about the local customs in the country where you are applying. Care should be taken to use the right level of formality. In many countries, applications lacking an appropriate, polite style are not given any further consideration.
Just as with applications in Germany, you can only write a good international application if you have put some research into the company in question and are sure about your own needs and professional objectives.
The cover letter
International applications always have two parts to them: a cover letter, and a curriculum vitae. Similar to German applications, the cover letter contains information about your person and why you want this job: who you are, what your qualifications are, what you want to do within the company and why you are interested in that company or position in particular. The cover letter should not exceed one page.
In some countries, it is still a requirement that applications be handwritten. For applications in English, make sure to use active voice in the cover letter: it suggests activeness and motivation, which are considered to be very important soft skills in English-speaking countries. It is an international open secret that good self-marketing is the way to get your dream job.
The curriculum vitae
The purpose of CVs all over the world is to give an overview of the applicant’s professional development. There are many variations concerning length and structure of these documents.
Whereas we in Germany make a chronological list of all jobs we have had, international applications often require a list of only those positions which are relevant to the job you are applying for.
Parts to include in the CV are: education (schools, colleges, professions), internships, work experience, special skills (this is where international applicants need to state their language skills), and miscellaneous information, which includes projects, hobbies, or volunteer activities. CVs for international applications are usually written in reverse chronological order and are not longer than one to two pages.
There is a major difference to German CVs concerning personal information. In Germany, applicants state their name, birthdate, birthplace, nationality, and marital status. In English-speaking countries, this is strictly forbidden. Personal information which may lead to discrimination may not be included in the CV. This is also why international applications do not include photos. The only exception are countries in the south European Mediterranean region, where application photos are still customary.
The job interview
If you have managed to land a job interview in the United States, you will make a good impression by having a relaxed attitude and a sense of humour. In countries like Turkey, this would be considered rather negative. In Russia, you would be expected to remember your job interviewer’s name, while in Scandinavia it would be considered normal to quickly start using each other’s given names. In any case, to make you an attractive choice for companies around the world, you should strive to appear friendly, self-confident, and above all, motivated.