The Ultimate Manifesto for Eternal Happiness and How to Find Work Overseas

So if you are a regular reader of this weblog I gots going here – kudos to you. You are obvious as intellectual as you are beautiful – and I thank you. But more than expressing my everlasting gratitude for putting up with my meandering prose, I would also like to apologize. I have traveled the world for about 8 years running now, and have done countless jobs overseas, and despite depicting my tales with the written word I have not gone much into the details of the ‘how’. How do I find, get, and survive doing jobs overseas. I have discussed some of the details on various podcasts, seminars, and street corners next to the “Find Salvation, Find Jesus” guy on the subject, but haven’t divulged much specific advice on the subject on this site. I play hard to get like that. But that ends now. So here’s the low down on how to find amazing jobs and experiences overseas.

GETTING STARTED: WHY in the HELL would I want to work overseas?

Philippines

Swimming with the turtles in Apo Island.

Let’s start with the WHY. Why would I want to work overseas when I could simply let myself go sippin’ on pina coladas all day or party all night at some full moon party in neon wearing lead-based paint under questionable hallucinogens? Well this is probably the easiest to address. Working overseas can give you an entirely different sense of cultures, the world, and what is really going on there. It is one thing to take a week or two-week long vacation or even a 2-month backpacking extravaganza in some exotic land, whipping out a Lonely Planet and crossing off tourist attractions, but it gets old. It becomes redundant, especially once the samba music stops. It is like dating that hottie only to find that after the lust wears off you are like “…aaaand I’m bored”. It is a whole other kind of awesome and enriching life experience to work abroad. You can learn the local language, really befriend locals rather than superficially partying together for a couple of days, date exotic natives and live a life like you see in the movies less the martinis and room service. Point being, you get to experience the culture as a local rather than just another tourist passing through.

Not that traveling and being a tourist isn’t also great, but after you have played tourist long enough, you will realize that a statue is a statue, one museum blends into another, and one hostel full of dipshits is just like any other hostel full of dipshits. The real magic is experiencing something that cannot be bought and can’t be inter-changed from with the swipe of a credit card. It less simple than checking something off a bucket list paid via some tour but infinitely more rewarding. My words do not give justice to the possibilities and the rewards for taking on such an endeavor, both from a personal satisfaction standpoint and a personal growth one. Grab that beautiful butterfly my friend, and thank me later (I prefer whiskey).

WHERE TO FIND WORK ABROAD

Philippines

Rice terraces in the mountainous province.

Okay now that we have established why you would want be more than just a tourist, let’s talk about where. And to the point, this really depends on if you have a specific job in mind or if care more about just living in a specific location than what you are actually doing there.

dog musher

For example, if you are into husky mushing, you might have a problem finding that in Jamaica, I would assume – they do have a bobsled team though so I could be wrong, but if you dig island life, then bartending, working in hotels, working on luxury yachts, timeshare sales, fishing boats, scuba diving, adventure sports etc. on and on are all possibilities. So basically establishing first and foremost, if living in XYZ country is more important or if doing XYZ job is more important.

flair bartending

THE RESEARCH BEFORE YOU GO ABROAD

sydney opera house

So I am more of a boots on the ground kind of guy, but finding real job intel is a bit more difficult to get if you are living in Podunk Arkansas, ego Google is your friend and first date. Consequently this will lead to hopefully more specific places for information, ie forums, blogs etc. where real people reside. I stress real people, such as myself, which is why forums that have ratings on posters is good or bloggers – cough, such as myself, who spatter their mug all over their site and own what they say, versus let’s say a company with an agenda. Not that companies don’t have a place or that bloggers aren’t without some agenda, it is just…well, you understand what I am saying – some are full of shit and just want your money. There are some places like Dave ESL Café, which has lots of information on teaching gigs and how to pantomime baby words to people, but I still prefer blogs. Another place that is a good starting point to discover what kind of jobs are available in a given country is Gumtree. You can peruse their classified to get a general idea of what is out there. I should probably start a forum on different job overseas – if you would find this interesting, or have job info you would like to contribute, drop a comment in the box or email me so that I can motivate myself out of bed to make such a romantic venue for all you would be job seekers, otherwise I will commence using my free time for HBO marathons and self-loathing.

GETTING LOCAL ONLINE

Connecting with a friend via Facebook brought me to the Philippines and hooked me up with locals doing relief work

Connecting with a friend via Facebook brought me to the Philippines and hooked me up with locals doing relief work

If you want to be a local, start by talking to the locals. This is far and away the approach I take most often when I am in search of jobs overseas – as finding real souls online who do jobs in whatever locale you are searching for are difficult to locate and even more difficult to assess their street cred (ie are they full of shit). If you wish to do this online, CouchSurfing is a great place to start, however, I do this whilst in the country I am looking for usually. Also, connecting with friends on Facebook who have traveled to XYZ place and may have friends there is an easy first step in connecting with locals. I recently was contacted by a friend who wanted to get involved with sustainable housing projects in developing countries and I was able to point her in the direction of locals I know working in the Philippines simply from a quick Facebook message. You never know what a simple Facebook status update will bring.

GETTING PERSONAL

Where the Pursuit of Dream Jobs Begins

winery jobs

So now that you have an idea of where you want to be and maybe have an idea or two of what kind of jobs are available in your desired exotic land, it is time to start your on the ground hustling. This is a bit more abstract as people have different skills in the communication department, however, that being said, improving your interpersonal skills is a life long process and one that will pay you dividends no matter what you end up doing. Seriously, that whole old school adage of “It is not what you know, but who you know” is true, and works by becoming a master of authentic communication. I recently was a guest on the podcast – The Art of Charm – a podcast dedicated to helping men talk to women, but more so, helping people improve their communication skills and improve themselves via authenticity. There is a ton of convergence with this kind of stuff beyond mere “dating”. In the podcast, I gave a breakdown for my advice on the inter-personal skills you need and tips to improve those skills for meeting locals abroad and landing sweet awesome jobs/experiences overseas. (You can listen to the podcast here or download it on iTunes).

THE SCARY PART: Let’s Talk To Strangers

As a child you are told to not to talk to strangers. Be leery of the unknown. Well – in terms of getting jobs overseas, we are gunning for the opposite: Always talk to strangers. Obviously you want to remain mindful of your environment and vigilant against the occasional scumbag you meet, but for the most part, people are nice, friendly – or at least that is the mindset we want. And it is the best way to find awesome experiences overseas, whether they be amazing job opportunities, dates with le sexy locals or connecting culturally beyond a tour guide – the scene starts with a simple: How you doin’?

Yes, Yes take a leap of faith and talk to everyone

Yes, Yes take a leap of faith and talk to everyone

So when you get to your country/location of choice, start to meet people, as many as you can. Use CouchSurfing, talk to workers at hostels, meet Expats in bars, stores, wherever, and chat it up. Ask about them. This is doing research in the real world baby, without that sweet glow behind a screen, and the more people you chat up, the more likely you will find something groovy going on.

OFFER VALUE: Give love before you get love

For the love of God why?

For the love of God why?

I can’t begin to tell you how many emails I get asking me for advice on such and such a thing. From the vague of “What advice can you give me?” (I don’t know dude, don’t send me selfish, vague emails) to the multi-volume, editorial of one’s life story asking me to play career counselor for them for free in my spare time. Or my personal favorite, “Hi I love the website AroudtheWorldin80Jobs.com and read it all the time! I work for xyz company selling revolutionary travel floalozals…blah blah [five paragraphs later] it would be great if you could share (see: spam) your audience and tell them all about us!!!” Great, you know where that email is going? Straight into my recycle bin; Do not pass Go, do not collect 200 dolla. When we dive beneath the veneer of all of this electronic and faceless communication, what is the real situation? Dear fine, sir please take time out of your busy life of travel, time with loved ones, time producing more content, time sitting on the couch watching your fictitious cat do backflips, and respond to a complete stranger who will probably never respond back and do anything. The point isn’t not to reach out to people and connect. No, quite the opposite actually. Send that email, always. The point is, offer them something. Make them want to help you. The person isn’t being an asshole by not responding to you, you just probably didn’t motivate/enthuse them enough. For example, the above podcast I was in, which hits like 400,000 people, went down because the listener of another podcast that I was guest on emailed me, wanting to connect me with Jordan of the Art of Charm. And guess what? I was and am now a very enthusiastic giver of value back to that thoughtful listener with whatever I could help him with. The point is, is to try the best you can to OFFER VALUE first.

WHERE ARE THE JOBS ABROAD YO? Spot the Expat

restaurant jobs in spain

Let’s backtrack a second here. Expats, as I mentioned above, are an AMAZING source of local knowledge. Here is a person that left their home country, relocated and may in fact be a business owner there. They often have spent years developing relationships in this area and know not only what is going on there in terms of what jobs or companies are doing, but they probably have tons of contacts. They are the real life person you couldn’t find online that can save you time, help you to avoid getting swindled of your lunch money, and make your dreams come true. Be nice to them. So let’s combine the first point (offering value first) with the second point (talking with strangers/Expats) and make a beautiful job opportunity baby.

Let’s say you want to work for some sweet ass resort or bar or club or whatever. You did your homework, found a couple of cool spots, now let’s move the ball down the pitch. You should be attending such venues regularly. Bring them patrons. Become friendly with the staff. Check out their social media accounts. Oh, they don’t have them or they suck (most likely), why not make them a great new banner with Photoshop and say “Hey Bill, I checked your FB page the other day and I happened to be a Jedi in all things digital and made you a new design if you want, what’s your email? Hey I got like 10 people I know looking for something cool going on…”

Boom. If I got that, I would love you. You haven’t asked for anything, yet you are making my life better by bringing me business and helping me to improve my existing business. And guess what, people rarely do this – and it will blow people’s minds. Which brings me to my next job advice, seeker of amazing travel experiences point.

NON-NEEDINESS: Want Nothing, Give Everything

elephant feedingYou know who the hottest dude in the bar is? The guy who wants nothing from you. Seriously. Sounds Buddhist (it is). When you begin your quest you will be doing the talking to everybody part and you will also be working on not asking for anything but helping people out. This in and of itself lends to the vibe of being non-needy – but it is really an attractive quality in many contexts (dating, job seeking, being generally likable).  When we put this into a travel job opportunity context, you will be blown away at people WANTING to help you, seriously. It is probably the most amazing thing I have learned from traveling about human nature thus far, which in more succinct terms is to say, how many random people will help you for little to no reason. So if people by nature want to help, what puts them off doing just that? How about a guy who comes into your establishment, tells you how he is an expert at such and such, doesn’t find out about you, is mission focused, and just give this vibe of “this guy wants something from me”. Well guess what that does? I don’t want to give that guy shit. Conversely, the guy who shows up, is interested in what I am doing and doesn’t ask me for anything is someone I like. And you know what people like? Not being told what to like but coming up with it on their own. So when looking for jobs, being laid back and not striving to take value from people is key.

DO IT LIKE THE DUTCH: An open mind opens doors

I had no idea about how to be a production assistant, but was flexible in taking up the craft

I had no idea about how to be a production assistant, but was flexible in taking up the craft

One of the things I learned fairly early on in my 80 jobs quest around the world is that being open minded will open way more doors than being too singularly focused. Sometimes I would pursue a certain job but it just didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Maybe it wasn’t the right season for that particular job; maybe people just weren’t hiring, maybe they thought I smelled like cabbage…whatever. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other opportunities, possibly better ones if you can be open to it. So the point of the matter is, being flexible and rolling with it will yield you infinitely more experiences on your plate then being a horny dog with bone jet set on one possible outcome. Ergo, follow all those leads and don’t naysay ones that may on the surface see as my So-Cal friend says “Boo-Boo”. You may just find a ugly duckling that is fact a beautiful swan. Or vulture, whatever.

LOVE THY JOURNEY

elephant bath time

And lastly, is to remember that this whole thing is about the journey. It is about loving the process. If you are so focused on achieving such and such a job or so outcome dependent on it, it will rob you of the joy of the pilgrimage and the beautiful country you are trying to localize in. There are so many wonderful experiences to be had, so many cool people to meet, that you run the risk of missing out on the bigger prize. In the words of my man Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around every once and a while, you could miss it”.

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And one final note on finding work overseas, as the last part of advice was more abstract on how I go about “networking” (barf of a term), is that in terms of visas etc. I find that you can work under the table in many places or that if you are valuable in whatever country you are in, your employer can help make that happen for you. In a digital age the term “independent contractor” is a bigger reality than most people realize. In terms of a CV/Resume, sure you can have them on your computer before you set out, but if you do the above, people won’t be asking you for that, they will be offering you gigs. This is a different approach altogether. And lastly, it would be financially prudent to not show up with only $5 in your pocket, otherwise you may take any job you can find out of desperation, and as I stated above, desperation is so not le sexy. Happy job hunting.

If you wish to listen to the full podcast I did for the Art of Charm on this subject, you can check it out on iTunes.

Turner barr
turnerbarr@gmail.com

Hi, my name is Turner. I travel the world, hustle to find interesting jobs, and write about what happens when you read too many self-help books.

15 Comments
  • Raphael Alexander Zoren
    Posted at 13:25h, 26 March

    Excellent tips, Turner. And yes, I was totally lured by the saving sea turtles part haha

  • Turner
    Posted at 16:53h, 26 March

    Ha Yes, the sea turtles get me every time! I should use that more often;)

  • Jenny Hayes
    Posted at 18:20h, 26 March

    Hey Turner, I like the idea about a forum for different jobs overseas. I hate to stop you from watching HBO, but I can’t be an advocate of self-loathing either. 🙂

  • Victoria
    Posted at 23:14h, 27 March

    Hey Turner, Thanks for this post. I like the “find the expat” bit. I think this is so true and pretty valuable for people to think about what to “give back” rather than just taking. Nice one! I’m sharing this post on Twitter.

  • FMyJob
    Posted at 12:59h, 28 March

    I learned in college that the best way to network is to give before you ask. It’s amazing that so many folks don’t realize how effective this approach can be. Good tips here Turner.

    I used to sit in a cubicle and daydream all day too about traveling the world too. One day, I built a job search engine to help myself look for jobs overseas. Hope this can help you guys: http://www.FMyJob.com

    Bon voyage!

  • Mike of Mapless Mike
    Posted at 08:36h, 29 March

    Excellent post! I will be leaving in 6 months to work in Spain as an English teacher. I will be looking for odd, random other jobs along the way and after my teaching contract ends. This was very helpful and provided a lot of insight about you. I’m new to your site and will definitely be sticking around and following your journey. Thank you again for writing this! I can confidently say you gained one new reader.

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  • Rashad Pharaon
    Posted at 21:54h, 31 March

    Great tip about connecting with locals and approaching individual humans about finding work abroad. Even in the digital age word-of-mouth is your best bet! Totally agree with you that it’s almost always better to find work once you’re in the country and can talk to people. Making arrangements beforehand usually results in regret when you get there and find out about something way cooler you could be doing instead.

  • Susan @ Travel Junkette
    Posted at 13:12h, 01 April

    Love it, Turner! Thanks for sharing your insights. And YAY for elephants!

  • Mandie
    Posted at 14:42h, 01 April

    Great post! I’m starting out my trip volunteering with projects I found on Workaway, just so I know I’ll have a place to stay and make local contacts once I get overseas, but I’m hoping eventually to earn a little spending money along the way. I have plenty of bar/hospitality experience and I’m literally open to ANYTHING that’s not morally compromising. Haha 🙂 I recently joined InterNations (a site for expats living and working abroad) and I wondered if you had any experience with them??

  • Hammad Tariq
    Posted at 08:48h, 02 April

    Great job Turner, at some places Gumtree or Google won’t work, it would just be beneficial if you leave your ego at home and go and talk to people at your chosen place but for that you have to be a bit of extrovert I assume. 🙂

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  • Jenn
    Posted at 13:55h, 08 April

    Great post!! Love your blog.
    What about the long-term? Is this realistically something that can be done forever? When we’re not young anymore, and the travelling’s over, what’s next? I know it should be about living in the present and enjoying life now, but this is the part that kind holds me back from making the jump!
    What are you thoughts?
    All the best,
    Jenn

  • Penelope
    Posted at 00:16h, 12 April

    This is jam packed with useful info … those seeking a job overseas would do well to take a solid hour or two to read it throughly!

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