How to get a job in a foreign country

28 Sep

I’ve decided to write about my experience in London.

I’ve decided because today I received this e-mail:

“I have just seen your web page, I found it very nice .
You are very lucky designer to find all those jobs even they are 20-30 percent design involved.
I am graphic /fashion designer did not find any design job since 3 years in London.
I have also done my master degree in design 2 years ago. I am very hard working talented designer.
It is very hard ( almost impossible) to find anything here. I feel sorry for myself to waste my time in uk.”

First of all, when I arrived in London I had money to stay without job for couple of months.
Even people assured me that are enough jobs for everybody, I didn’t want to get something in the construction field. Not because I am afraid of hard labour (maybe someday I will tell you about my experience in Istanbul, where my job was to unload trucks of paper using my back – +70 kilos a pack). I didn’t choose construction field because I wanted to keep may job/my profession with all costs. You cannot evolve if you change often the job type.
So, I had money for 3 months of “spare” looking for job.
I treated my first week in London as “accommodation week” then I started to send applications.
How many applications I sent during my one year stay? TWO THOUSAND! This is not a joke, I looked daily for jobs on all the websites I found, I used Job Center Plus, I made a website (where I advertised my skills for photo retouching), I also a website like this one (with my CV and some portfolio), I even put printed ads on the ad walls in supermarkets.
The hardest part in this process was not the absence of money but absence of practicing my skills.

After a month I had another idea: the ideal distance for me to get at work is around 30 minutes.
I was living in Uxbridge – this was hard because the very west end of the Metropolitan line and Piccadilly line was Uxbridge. This means that I can get in 30 minutes only at east of Uxbridge, toward the city centre. The area was scarce, limited only to east.
Anyway, I looked over the map and I tried to identify all the potential companies in 30-45 minutes distance from my place (even they didn’t have job openings).
And I sent e-mails to all. The letter of intention was starting like this:

“My name is Cristian Ciureanu. I recently moved in Uxbridge and I want to find a job close to my home.
Since my experience is in DTP / Artworking / Graphic Design field, to find a job who fits my qualifications it will be great.
If you have anything close to my experience, don’t hesitate to give me a call. I am available to work full-time, part-time or freelance. 🙂 “

One day I received a call: “Hi, I saw your CV and we have a job for you.” Do I need to come to take a test?, I asked. “No, we saw your website, you’re ok. Can you start tomorrow, for a week?” Of course!!!
This got me a job that “fed” me from time to time: “Artworker for RCN Publishing Company”.
And the job was placed just 30 minutes from my home! 🙂
That week was ok, in the next month they call me again, next month again, and again, and again… Even in the day of the returning flight to Romania they sent me another e-mail to call me for another week.

If you read that, Ken, I thank you very much… Somedays I was dreaming of a permanent job with you…

Another job was coming to me with the request: “if you not know InDesign you cannot help us.”
“I know InDesign”, I said, even I didn’t.
The job was a freelance job, working from home – and I spent nights “adapting” my Quark skills to the new software (even now, my InDesign shortcuts are set as in Quark).
I had to edit some newspaper pages – a monthly – and I felt very good working for them.
The job was from home and I had the power to do some newspaper design – something that I like very much and I can do it for all my life with the same energy as at beginning. 🙂


The job who left me with a biter taste was for HarperCollins. I was hired for 3 months in some temporary position: they needed two guys to upload their old CDs in a database (named DAM – Digital Asset Management).
The job was very boring – checking and copying PDF and QXP, QXD files – but I accepted. This was a steady job and for 3 months I lived like a normal man, with the possibility to think further than just looking every day for work.
I had time to breath in weekends, to book a trip to Paris, to read books (I worked in a book factory!), to think about all the stuff you use to think when you’re not pressed to look for work. I even bought my first DSLR and I spent nights on big football fields trying to catch a nice sky light. 🙂

The boss gave us (we were two guys doing the same job, hired in the same day) only better reviews: when she talked to us she seem to be pleased wit the volume of books uploaded.
A week before the expiration of the contract Sam (Samantha) came to us and said that is very likely for the company to extend our contracts for another three months. I was very happy.

In the last day of the first 3 months contract she took me on the hall and said that the contract will be extended only for my colleague and that was my last day in HarperCollins.

Well, this was a very bitter situation, and I din’t have any choice but to accept.

One thing that I regret I didn’t have time to do it: On the job I saw that a lot of books was thrown to recycling and I asked the bosses if we can send them in some foreign schools – and this will be a great example and a very good marketing scheme – for people to learn about Harper Collins.
I told you that I was born just 80km from former URSS: I had in mind to support my home-town library, to send (on my expense) around 100 English books.
Sam said “Very good idea! We will talk about it.” but in a week I wasn’t their employee anymore… and even now I regret I didn’t send those books.

One to another, to live and work in London was a good experience.
I miss the time in RCN, I miss my long walks in the Hammersmith area, I miss some “peace” I found in many places.
But almost 4 years have gone and I didn’t have any thought to re-visit London.
Even I still have couple of thousands of pounds in a Barclays deposit, I don’t feel any urge to return to see England.
No, I don’t hate it, just “I’ve been there.”

How to get a job in a foreign country?  
1. Know the language
2. “Practice” looking for jobs
3. If you are not uptight, for the beginning try to accept jobs lower than your qualification
4. Think about this proverb: “you just don’t know from where the rabbit will jump” (I think it’s some hunter proverb 🙂 )

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Posted by on 28/09/2012 in LIFE


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