Seems a lot of people do because I’m getting a load of emails lately asking me how I got over here, if I have any advice and if I know any recruiters. So I thought I would share what I know.
Having an EU passport would make your wish a reality a lot faster. It does cost the company money to obtain a work permit and involves quite a few man hours to maneuver through bureaucracy. Plus, if you are fresh out of school legally it is not possible to prove to the government that no suitable candidate could be found in the country or EU.
Language skills are also very valuable, but you need to be totally fluent in order to operate “in country.” International work is done in English, so you’ve still got a shot if you are not multi-lingual. I speak some Spanish and know a few phrases in other lanuages but do not use this in my work other than building rapport. London is the largest English speaking/working market, but not the only place to go. Amsterdam for example has about 30 or so international (thus working-in-English) planners. I imagine that there are jobs like these in most major cities but there probably aren’t a lot – I’ve only met a handful. Having good agency experience and client experience will help. Having Crispin on my resume really helped DDB take the chance on me given I didn’t have much in the way of international experience before I moved.
I got really lucky and was asked to come over based on the exposure I had through the survey. But I was aiming to live over seas for 2-3 years before I came here. I was looking into the peace corps/foreign service and had thought I decided to take a year off and travel through South America. I was saving money for this plan, my boss at Crispin knew that’s what I wanted, and I had been aiming for May of 2010 to do it. But then the opportunity at DDB arose to come to Amsterdam and I had to jump on it. I am a big believer in leap and the net will appear. If you somehow get the opportunity, go for it.
I’m willing to connect people via LinkedIn who have taken the survey. If you and I are linked, you can look through my connections, craft your note and ask me to forward it – all in LinkedIn. I’m afraid I can’t do much more than push the “please forward” button.
*Update* – whenever people tell me about jobs and ask if I know anyone, I post it as a gig alert on Twitter. So if you want to know what I do, follow me (@hklefevre).
And last, here are a couple of recruiters who I have heard good things about.
LIZH, 61-63 Beak Street, London W1F 9SL
T: +44 (0)20 7437 7863
M:+ 44 (0)7968 695 350
I wish you lots of luck in reaching your dreams. It has been really satisfying for me – in fact, I’m not sure I will ever return to the States…