What is your main concern when thinking about getting a job abroad? Megan Watchorn, Head of growth at VanHack, and Rodolfo Santos, our European growth manager, addressed some of the most common questions from candidates about the international market and shared their firsthand insights into what companies see when hiring talents around the globe.

It is challenging for organizations that still haven’t figured out how to broaden their search. Some locations don’t have the workforce to keep up with the constant growth of the tech industry. And that is great news for skilled tech professionals everywhere. “Companies that are trying to find talent in their local talent pools, they’re struggling. So we’re seeing more and more company’s opening up and turning their eyes to the international candidates”, Watchorn explains. Most of this demand comes from small or medium-sized startups (up to 200 employees) that have reached the scale-up stage and very much need specialized professionals they can’t find locally. Santos adds that many tech companies are also interested in hiring abroad to boost teams diversity and gain knowledge from people with different backgrounds and expertise.

What is your main concern when thinking about getting a job abroad

Lewis Parsons via Unsplash

Where are the employers based?

A little bit over half of VanHack’s hiring partners (55%) is based in Canada. Most of the other half is distributed throughout the UK and Europe, in countries like Portugal, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden, Finland, Spain, France, Norway, and Luxemburg.

Since the immigration system in the United States can be hard to navigate, American companies that have partnered with VanHack usually hire remote workers and do not offer relocation.

Will my employer help me pay for relocation?

Yes, most companies will assist candidates with relocation expenses, but this help may vary from case to case.
“The majority of companies cover, at least, the flight and first weeks of accommodation, but it is not a one size fits all,” Santos explains. 

What are the three biggest mistakes candidates make?

For both Watchorn and Santos, some basic mistakes that could be easily avoided are still hurting candidates’ chances with international recruiters. They are:

1 – Not being versed about the companies’ products, culture, and values 

“There’s a lot of research that can be done online before the interview,” Watchorn says. Se explains that job interviews are never only about your skills and that the kind of interest and enthusiasm you display is essential. “Quite often you’re being interviewed by the CTO… where the company is looking for people who are passionate about that particular organization”. Santos adds that every little bit of effort counts in the “race” for a job.

“We know it is an over-competitive market where everyone is highly skilled, right? So these small details make a huge difference. If you read the about the company, understand their mission, their value, and you bring it to them, the first interviews, this will make you stand out”. 

2 – Know nothing about the city where to they intend to move 

If a job offers relocation, candidates should talk about the city or country they are moving to as much as they discuss the products they will be working with. It shows recruiters that you are genuinely happy about relocating. Watchorn suggests candidates look locations up on sites like TripAdvisor and think of why that place is interesting. “You could say ‘I want my kids to go up Grouse Mountain, see grizzly bears, and play with snow’, for Vancouver as an example. It shows to the employe,’ that you’ve envisioned your family moving.” 

3 – Not knowing how to do follow-ups

Sending a thank you email after a job interview is a polite gesture, but candidates shouldn’t do much more than that when it comes to contacting recruiters. “I hire people here at VanHack and get a ‘thank you’ is really nice. However, getting 15 messages in a row is not”, says Watchorn. Likewise, contacting the interviewer on different platforms (like LinkedIn and email) at the same time is also not ok. 

Santos reminds candidates that they are sometimes being interviewed by the companies’ CEOs or heads of engineering, who have other tasks besides talking to potential new employees.

“Just messaging them constantly or emailing them is not going to help you in the hiring process.”

What are the three best things candidates should do to stand out?

Ok, now that we have gone through what not to do, what are the things international candidates should work on to get head?  

1 – Make great videos – Santos is enthusiastic about VanHack’s English Verification videos. “Make sure they are incredible!” he advises candidates.

“Choose an environment where there is no noise around, be very interactive with the camera, and show your best self. Those videos are one VanHack’s standout points.”

2 – Complete code challenges – If you don’t take the code challenge, “you’re shooting yourself in the foot a little bit,” Watchorn says. “Even if you don’t score 100%, you can score 90% or 85%, but at least it shows that you’re not afraid to put yourself on the line and show your code to the hiring managers”. 

3 – Open target location and salary – If it is true the organizations are opening up to the possibility of hiring abroad, candidates themselves also benefit from having a wider radar for opportunities. The two specialists advise tech talents to be open-minded about salary ranges and locations. “There is quite a difference in salary, required for Vancouver, versus Winnipeg, Lisbon, or Berlin. So it would help if you kept those salary ranges wide because the cost of living is significantly different between Vancouver and Winnipeg. Also, open your eyes to other locations. You’re going to have more opportunities”, explains Watchorn.

Learn more about getting noticed by recruiters here & here.

Watch the entire talk here:


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