“The Secret To Looking For Work Abroad” From Brave New Traveler

“In my experience, it seems that simply standing upright and speaking several relatively coherent sentences in English is sufficient to land the job.”

Perhaps a bit of a colorful exaggeration, but the point is that EFL work is probably the easiest and most widely available kind of work for native English speakers to find overseas. But what if you don’t want to teach English?

In The Secret to Looking for Work Abroad at Brave New Traveler, author Josh Lew shares his insight on finding other kinds of work abroad.

He mentions tourism as one possibility; not doing routine jobs like waiting tables, but specifically for sports-oriented instructor positions. Competition is stiff, he acknowledges, but my intuition also tells me that aiming for this type of job is a better bet than cleaning rooms or busing tables.

Writing for or editing a newspaper also comes up. I have to say that this strikes me as work a lot of native speakers would like to have – but my instinct is that it is harder than it appears. I do recall interviewing one English teacher who found work with a paper in Japan. This kind of work may, however, have the added benefit of being work that a company can logically require a native speaker for, which will mean a work permit is possible.

I’m personally hesitant to be enthusiastic about the prospects for non-teaching work abroad. Local language skills – good ones – are often extremely important in most work environments, and while it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility that a native speaker without those skills could do a particular job, given all the constraints, it is just so much easier for an employer to hire a local who speaks English.

The author does point out the importance of framing your experience well, which I concur is always important. I’d also add: be ready to take the initiative, go knock on doors and be prepared to be turned down many times. There is a reason there are not websites abounding with non-teaching work…it is truly hard to find. And keep in mind that if you are a recent graduate, under 30 or so, or from a handful of countries with a good relationship with the UK – you may be eligible for some form of working holiday visa (WHV).

How is this all related to TEFL? Aside from the WHV angle, I do think a year teaching would give some great insight into what kind of other work – if any – is available, and what you need to do to get it.