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Nov 2, 2012

Overseas work opportunity, luck or skill?


The questions listed below appear frequently in the career forums.

Q. How can I work overseas?
Q. Can a Java/JEE software engineer go abroad to work within a short time?
Q. How can I find job in Singapore as a Java/JEE prfoessional with 2 year experience?

The question that prompted me to write this blog post was -- Overseas work opportunity, luck or skill? The simple answer is that you need both. The key is that you need to "prepare" to go abroad.

"The meeting of preparation with opportunity generates the offsping we call luck" -- by Tony Robbins

"I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity" -- by Oprah Winfrey


In preparing, you need to ask the question that why an overseas employer should pick you and not someone else who has similar or better skill sets? Here are a few things that I believe that will improve your chances.

You need to have good communication and interpersonal skills. Your technical skills must be complemented with good soft skills in general and great communication and interpersonal skills are a must. If you feel you lack these skills, better start working on them as it takes time to develop them.

Your career is your responsibility and you need to develop the much needed job hunting skills including effective resume writing skills, good interview preparation, building an online presence and networking skills. These skills can make you standout from other professionals who are same as or more qualified than you are.


Expand your horizons by trying different avenues to be discovered with an online presence. See this blog post to see what you can do as a software engineer to open more doors. Your talents and accomplishments need to be effectively  promoted to build additional income streams.

Good domain knowledge does matter. Especially in finance and telecom. Banking and Finance is a big domain and the employers prefer candidates with prior experience.

If you are already working with an outsourcing company, opportunity to go onsite is very much dependent on being on the right project at the right time. Some are indeed lucky to get such a project sooner than later, but for most, it takes some calculated risks or moves within or outside the company. Sometimes you will have to make your own luck. Try to get good grasp of the 16 key areas that will help you solve problems and standout from your competition to be picked.

There are so many developers out there with Java/JEE skills. Having Java/JEE + a rare skill sets like SOA tools, BPM tools, SAP integration, etc can improve your chances to be picked. Research the overseas job postings and try to acquire relevant skills.

Constantly do your research via industry specific forums and Googling for keywords like  "IT skills shortage", "IT skills shortage list", "IT skills demand list", "working visas USA", "working visas UK", "Overseas IT job placements", etc.

Knowing a foreign language other than English can be advantageous. With the world becoming seemingly smaller with cheaper airfares, globalization, and the world wide web, it makes sense that most businesses seek out employees who can communicate in more than one language. If you are bi or multi-lingual, your skill set will make you more marketable in a multitude of industries, from the corporate world to government agencies, and from hospitality/tourism to real estate. Spanish, German, French, Japanese, and Russian are popular languages and do your research as to a specific country you intend to travel to. But learning a new language from scratch is a daunting task and might not worth the effort. The time can be spent more productively in other avenues listed above.

Finally, you need a workable plan and stick to it with lots of patience and perseverance  The plan should include
  • Why do you want to work overseas? better income, better savings, working holiday, gain new insights, better opportunities to open more doors in terms of starting your own business or selling your ideas, etc. 
  • What countries are you interested in working in, and why? some countries may require you to learn a foreign language.
  • Why should an overseas employer or outsourcing company pick you? How can you effectively sell your accomplishments, skills, and experience? Do you have any rare skill sets? Do you have any specific domain knowledge? 
  • The grass is not always greener on the other side. So, do your research about the cost of living, expected earnings after tax, life style, adjusting to cultural differences, etc.  

Hope this blog post will help you make your own luck by self assessing your current skill sets and acquiring what is required to increase your chances. 

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