Finding a New Job Abroad

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Nailing job interviews overseas is about more than just a great resume. Kwan-Ann Lim shares her tips for success.

“I have heard that you are not very good at interviews. That’s okay—just take each rejection as practice. Interviewing is a skill that you can learn.”

My heart sank when Mr. Manager said that to me after he heard that I was leaving my job to work abroad in Australia. What he said had some truth to it. Interviews aren’t my best suit.

And every single time I got a rejection letter, I cried. In one 2011 study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, researchers found that as far as the brain is concerned, physical pain and intense experiences of social rejection hurt in the same way.

Guilty until proven innocent

I find that interviews are like court cases—except I am the one standing trial. The jury are looking for every chance to declare me guilty and give me the stamp of rejection.

I walk in and didn’t make eye contact. Slightly guilty.

I shake hands with my potential employer, I am nervous and my palms are sweaty. Guilty.

I stammer when I talk. Guilty.

I didn’t have a good answer to the interview question because my panicky brain couldn’t come up with a response on the spot. Very guilty.

I appear to not have done research on the company. (I actually did but what I spent five hours reading up on was irrelevant to what was asked.) Guilty beyond repair.

Sometimes, you meet the right employer and everything happens the way it should happen and more, and you get offered a job. Then and there, you realize that you can only secure a job from doing your best and holding each job search with an open hand.

Learning to sell

We are all salespeople—all of us are selling, every single day.

We may be selling an idea when we are trying to persuade someone to adopt our point of view. Or, when we are telling someone else about our wonderful experience at a restaurant. It’s no different at an interview. We are selling our skills because we know that we will be positive assets to the organization.

Applying for a job overseas is no different. I admit I am not the expert at this, but I may have a trick or two picked up from the myriad of rejections I’ve received over years.
Tip #1: In order to sell, you must have an innate trust and belief in your own abilities. This belief stems from grit, perseverance, character integrity and being able to back yourself with past results.
Tip #2: The motive behind selling is just as important as every other part. Imagine being asked the question, "why did you apply for this role?" (A question by the way, that comes up without fail at an interview—hint, this may be something you want to prepare for and nail.)
"Oh, I hate my job and I’m looking for a new job, the environment is just toxic and I am no longer challenged."
Or you could say this: "I am applying for the role because having read the position description, it aligns with my skills and passions. I think I can really use my experience to contribute to the organization."
This brings me to tip #3: Selling works when you are focused on how others, not just you, can benefit from the transaction.
I was offered a job two weeks after moving abroad. It was also my first interview in Melbourne.
Take that, big boss.
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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Kwan-Ann Lim

Kwan-Ann Lim is a management consultant who frequently travels for work. Recently she has also started journaling her move from Auckland to Melbourne through her writing.


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