Finding a job abroad could be a disheartening experience. If you’re well-educated, smart, and ambitious, probably you’ve never experienced any difficulty finding a job in Indonesia. Its rapidly growing ecosystem and competing salary offers from startups burning investor’s dollars making it doable to find a managerial position with salary 10x of minimum wage with merely 3-5 years of working experience.
But if you’re like me, you are still not satisfied. You want to fulfill your dream to live abroad. You’ve even considered to apply for Working Holiday Visa in Australia – you don’t mind working as a waiter or barista, as long as you can experience living abroad. You tentatively search for jobs in Singapore and find some menial positions such as customer service. You try – and get rejected.
Or you’re in your last months of your study abroad and you’re desperate to find a job. Any job would do, you said, even a door-to-door sales. But visa regulation makes it harder and harder to get a working permit.
I’ve been there.
I’m familiar with the exasperation of getting 100 doors shut to your face. I’m familiar with the urge to cry and just give up.
But somehow, the 101st door was opened to me, and it was Facebook’s. I’ve been here for 2.5 years now – some days are stones, most days are diamonds. Sometimes in the morning when I walk into my office and greeted with smiles by the security officers, I still can’t believe that I’ve made it.
I’d love to see more Indonesians going global so I’m sharing here some tips that landed me a job at Facebook London – hopefully it can help you landing your dream job, too.
Getting a work visa
This is usually the first question that came to mind. As you know, the company has to sponsor your work visa, so the key here is finding companies that are registered as foreign workers sponsor. The good news is multinational companies like Facebook, Google, or Apple are considered as top employers even in the most difficult countries visa-wise like UK & US. In the UK, to be able to sponsor a foreign worker, the companies have to prove that they have opened the position for 30 days or so and they can’t find a suitable local talent.
During interview process, the interviewers (i.e. hiring managers, future colleagues etc) wouldn’t know and wouldn’t care about your nationality. They’ll make hiring decisions based on your skillset. As long as you can show that you’re the best person for the job, they’ll put an approval stamp to your CV – and the rest is just immigration paperwork.
But how do I show that I’m the best person for the job?
Excellent question, and I’d say this is the trickiest bit. When you apply for jobs abroad, you’re competing against international talents. When you apply to top employers like Facebook and Google, you’re competing against the best of the best international talents. Here are some tips:
Don’t apply for graduate or entry-level roles if you’re not a fresh grad and if your bachelor’s degree is not from abroad.
Reasons: a) Graduate or entry-level roles are harder to sponsor. Remember that the company has to prove that they can’t find a local talent to fill this role, while fresh grads are everywhere. b) Companies usually look for younger people with fresh minds for these roles – your years of experience can actually go against you.
Don’t apply for market-specific roles if you don’t have experience in the market.
Examples of market-specific roles: sales, customer success manager, policy. The reason is obvious – how can you prove that you’re the best for the role if you don’t have knowledge and relationships in the market?
Don’t apply for generalist roles – such as general finance, accounting, recruitment, etc.
Take this tip with a grain of salt as I know there are also specialist roles in finance, for example. (My husband is specialised in quantitative risk methodology, whatever that means.) My point is the more generic the role is, the more generic the skillsets are, and the harder it is to justify the expensive decision to hiring and sponsoring you.
Do apply for specialist roles where you have the edge.
It could be industry knowledge, market knowledge, specific methodology, certification, etc. Example of a specialist role: Threat Analyst with certain market expertise. Even if you are not 100% passionate about it, the role can be your entry point to your next move. Internal transfer within the company is not as challenging as knocking the door as an external candidate.
Preparing for the interviews
Interview is a skill that requires practice. If the last time you interviewed for a job was more than a year ago, I’d recommend to practice, practice, practice. I iterated it three times but actually three rehearsals are still too few. Rehearse your answer for “tell me about yourself” until you memorise it. Make it succinct and engaging – imagine elevator pitch with a CEO. If you don’t speak English on a daily basis, practice explaining your experience and achievements in English.
Another grain of salt – interview or communication skill will help when you already have the edge. Confident words won’t magically overturn your dingy profile.
Sounds like a lot of work, is it worth it?
Depends. I mentioned that some of my days here were stones too. I found living in Europe boring and overly comfortable. I miss the excitement of an emerging market in Indonesia. I miss the constant challenge and struggle. And of course, living so far away from my family and friends is not easy.
Facebook is one of the best employers in the world so they can afford to hire whoever they want. A lot of people here are overqualified for the role, which means their skills are underutilised in their daily jobs.
But the good bit? Apart from the amazing perks (breakfast, lunch, dinner, massage, gym, traveling around the world, you name it), you get to work with the most brilliant people and you know that your work is making real-world impact.