Documents, contacts, safety… what else should you remember before beginning your first job abroad? If you are considering working abroad, here is some advice from experienced Poles. Perhaps their stories will allow you to avoid common mistakes.
According to the widely referenced Central & Eastern Europe Development Institute report, the most preferred destinations for Polish profit emigration in 2015 were Germany, the United Kingdom and Norway. We asked Poles who have worked in the above mentioned countries for few years to help us create a guide for people who are planning to begin working abroad. Here are ten things that you should know before deciding on profit emigration.
1. Polish your language
If you aren’t fluent in the national language of a particular country, that doesn't disqualify you from the labor market. This is especially the case if you speak English at a communicative level. - There is no doubt that it is significant to at least know the basics of the national language of the country you wish to work in – said Oskar Fainstein. He has been running his own company in Berlin since 2008. He is the father of two kids: - This makes your activities in the labor market much easier. However, regardless of this, I would recommend you to invest in English. It is still the absolute foundation of communications abroad, especially in larger cities.
2. Make a plan and a contact list
Be realistic regarding your plans and expectations. - Think about what is absolutely necessary for you to start with – said Natalia Oszmianska, who has lived in the United Kingdom since 2006. She works in the Human Resources Department of a high school in Basildon, Essex county: - If you have a family and you want to take your children with you, you will definitely need different preparations than a single person would. This impacts your salary expectations, as well as your professional activity. I certainly wouldn't advise you to move abroad blindly.
You could also put together a contact list for people that can support you with their practical knowledge after your arrival. - It's worth finding people that can help you fill-out forms, register in the proper offices, or translate for you – suggests Pawel Mankowski. He is a law student who has regularly worked in Norway since 2011.
3. Find your base
At the very least, aquire the first place that you will stay in. - An address is a foundation in the United Kingdom. Basically, it is a signal that you are reliable. Without an address, you will not be able to register your social insurance number or open a bank account – warns Jordan Jurgiel, who has lived in the British Isles since 2005, and works in a supermarket in Somerset county.
A group trip may be really advantageous in the case of moving to Norway. This will allow you to divide the costs: - The apartment deposit alone in Norway is a cost of approximately 10-15k PLN. It is obvious that when you rent an apartment with other people, you can share these costs. However, you still have to keep in mind that the costs will remain large – said Pawel Mankowski.
4. Save money for your trip
It's unlikely that you would have a suitcase full of money when going to a job abroad. However, each of our interlocutors emphasize that it's important to have minimum finances to secure yourself at the beginning. - If I were leaving today, I would certainly try to raise a bigger amount of money than I had when I started – said Natalia: - I didn't have enough money to rent my own flat, so I had to live with other people. As it appeared, this was quite typical for the emigrants – she stated.
You can consider saving money with currency exchange. You can do this by buying currencies via the online currency exchange office, Cinkciarz.pl, as one example. If you buy two thousand euro through them, you may save up to 446 PLN in comparison to the currency exchange rates of the banks (exchange rates as provided by Cinkciarz.pl on 29.06.2016).
5. Gather documents and do research
The more certifications that confirm your abilities, the better, emphasizes Pawel who works in Norway: - Due to reliable documents, you will find it easier to get a job, as well as to get a better one. From my experience, I know that the Norwegian employers really take care of tested experts, as well as put in much effort so these experts won’t quit for the competitor. Ilona Szalaty, who has experience working in Ireland and the United Arab Emirates, emphasized the value of researching proper document: - Gather as much information as possible from dedicated websites, forums, etc. Examine the matter of legalizing your diplomas, authorizations, or driving license, especially if you are planning on going to more distant countries. A short moment spent in front of the computer may allow you to avoid unpleasant surprises.
6. Don't pay an agent
When you're looking for a job abroad for the first time, be really cautious about offers from agents. - An employee should never pay for “organizing” a job in the United Kingdom. The headhunters that search for employees are paid to do an effective job – said Jordan. Pawel advises: - It is good to ask other people about your potential employer before taking a job. It is worth reading Polish forums, such as the one on the mojanorwiegia.pl website.
7. Start searching for a job before leaving
Anna Sikorska currently works in Milan at a responsible position in a global advisory organization. However, she used to work in Ireland and England as a student. - I never used the services of job agents. I found the previous job offers from Germany and Italy by myself on social websites like LinkedIn, for example. I went for job interviews in Germany, as well as Italy, on my own in my free time, while working and living in different countries at that time.
However, Jordan who works in the United Kingdom is skeptical: - Despite the possibilities that the internet gives us, I don't think that it is possible to find a job from Poland. The only exceptions are probably highly qualified experts such as doctors, as well as operators of specialist equipment. In my opinion, a statistical emigrant has to walk his way to the job from here.
8. Confirm your job in writing
If you succeed in making contact with your potential employer, try to formalize the resolutions you have made. Ilona, who has an experience as a business developer in the Emirates, puts things clear: - If you're looking for a job in a distant country, never go there without a contract. Moreover, you should at least do some basic research about the company you will work for. You can do this by reading about it on the internet.
Natalia of Basildon advised: - If you have a specific job offer, you should really try to have the resolutions between you and your employer written down. I remember how surprised I was when after coming to England ten years ago, I found out that I'll be doing physical work, instead of working in the office as promised. The beginnings were tough, but I could have avoided them.
9. Employee or business owner?
It is a common knowledge that pursuing business activity is easier abroad than it is in Poland. - I've been running my company in Berlin for eight years, and I'm very fond of this form of activity – said Oskar: - The tax-free rate in Germany is 8.5k euro for a single person, and 17k euro for married couples. If your annual income is below these amounts, you don't have to pay taxes or pay pension contributions at all! The only mandatory cost is health insurance. Its rates start from 80 euro per month - taking into consideration that depending on age and health condition, it increases. It should not exceed the level of 150 euro for people who are approximately 25 years old – he concluded.
You have to admit that this form of organization seems very attractive for those who have specific technical qualifications, as well as independent professionals.
10. Remember about safety!
You have to keep in mind that your determination to work abroad can be abused by criminals: - Fraudsters are eagerly tempting the naive. They promise big earnings in a short time. A common mistake is to search for a job at the last moment – warned Michal Gawel of the press bureau at the General Police Headquarters of Poland.
Experts regret the lack of knowledge among those who are planning foreign trips: - Unfortunately, 90% of the people who decide on their first job abroad, are assuming that nothing negative will happen. This kind of attitude is naive. Everyone who is not careful can be a victim of human trafficking and land in a work camp, instead of working for an honest employer – said clearly Joanna Garnier of the La Strada International Association that addresses the trafficking of persons in Europe. So what is her advice for people who wish to leave? - You should base your decision on reliable knowledge, instead of your own assumptions, as well as the imagination of your friends. It's worth having our trust number in your mobile phone (+ 48 22 628 99 99) – explained Garnier. Guides that include useful phone numbers, are also available on websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the General Police Headquarters of Poland.