“Every tentmaker we at Global Intent have worked
with has found a job – why should you be an exception?”
The international job market is driven by economic forces of supply and demand. Why do organizations hire westerners and nations grant work visas? For our professional skills and products. This demand fuels jobs for millions of westerners overseas.
All countries protect jobs for their own people, but all countries also go outside to meet real needs.
- Vocational profile of the global job market.
The need to develop is the primary force driving the job market in most developing nations. Development requires the transfer of technology and especially the training of any nation’s greatest resource—its people. Consequently, education at all levels is the single largest vocational field. Because English is crucial for globalization, English teaching is a huge arena all by itself. Further, as schools and other organizations overseas learn that they can get teachers who will work in their limited settings, the demand increases. We keep hearing story after story of schools and universities asking tentmakers to help them find more teachers because they see what the tentmaker is providing.
(English teaching will be covered later in this article)
The second area providing international jobs is business and industry. There is tremendous demand in computers, communications, engineering, marketing, manufacturing, healthcare, and basic development. There is also considerable demand in banking, accounting, financial services, law, transportation, agriculture, tourism, and arts and media.
“We have yet to meet a profession for
which an overseas job could not be found”
- The two markets.
There are essentially two overseas job markets, expatriate and local hire. The expatriate market pays Western wages in order to obtain qualified Western expertise and job openings are advertised publicly. The “local hire” expatriate market consists basically of local agencies which are open to hiring Westerners who are willing to work for local wages. Jobs in this market are not generally listed, but are discovered by networking. The President of Kyrgyzstan wanted to hire 7,000 ESL teachers. But there is no way Kyrgyzstan could pay anything close to Western wages. There is similar interest in Kazakhstan and other countries.
In reality, these two poles are oversimplified. Market forces drive this situation. Many organizations want more Westerners, but cannot afford any or many at Western salaries. So when Westerners are willing to work for less, they take them. Why do they work for less? Desire for travel, missions motivation, service motivation and unfortunately a desire to promote their own agendas and lifestyles. For instance, a person can find numerous jobs that provide adequate income to live in China, though low by western standards. In other situations, a person will need supplemental support. In such settings, it is vital to negotiate hard for other forms of compensation like housing, in-country transportation rates, health care, etc.
- The four job providing entities.
Basically four entities provide work to Westerners overseas:
1) international or local corporations
2) indigenous national institutions like colleges, universities, and government agencies
3) relief and development agencies
4) new start-up businesses
- Structural nature of the global job market.
The international job market is very decentralized, fragmented, and unstructured. This is a natural result of specialization in skills and needs. With globalization and modern communication, it is easy for a university in country A to communicate with a chemical engineer in country B who is open to working there, but how do they find each other. Because of this challenge, the global job market is really a collection of hundreds or even thousands of relatively small, vertical job markets, which communicate through specialized networks, publications, websites, and job agencies. For this reason, it is vital for job seekers to take initiative and persist in pursuing all these channels.
- Relatively closed character of the global job market.
The job market tends to be closed to outsiders for a couple of reasons. First, western organizations have a strong tendency to promote and transfer from within for overseas jobs even when the person has little cross-cultural skill or experience. The reason for this is that organizations need people with intimate knowledge of the organization, its culture, products, services, and authority structure. The consequence of this approach is big adjustment problems and a high turnover rate for workers going overseas. Nevertheless, this pattern is likely to continue for some time. Some companies are recognizing the problem and a new industry is developing to provide cross-cultural training for employees.
The second reason for the relatively closed market is that there are few entry-level jobs for westerners, with English teaching being the only exception. In addition to vocational competency, employers often look for travel, overseas work experience, relational skills, and even language competency for obvious reasons.
“Many tentmakers find themselves needing to change
jobs before the initial job contract is over – be prepared!”
- Length of contracts.
Overseas contracts tend to last 1-3 years. After that, a person must renew or find another job. Corporate jobs tend to last 1-3 years because they expect that employees will want to return home.
Development agency jobs tend to be limited because they are tied to government grants and specific projects. Another factor is that national organizations want expatriates to equip their own people so that they can take over as soon as possible. The result of this trend is that international jobs and careers tend to evolve unpredictably and require ongoing changes.
Since many jobs actually isolate people from the larger global job market, it is imperative to develop a broad range of contacts and keep one’s ears open to impending vacancies.
Networking is indispensable. Furthermore, most job moves tend to be horizontal rather than hierarchical because most jobs are oriented toward delivering specialized direct services. Only larger corporations and government agencies provide more vertical job changes. However, such changes usually move people away from direct work in the field where many find greater satisfaction and excitement.
Retired or Pretired? (Pre retirement or early retirement)
Retired people are able to take low paying jobs in low economy countries, since their retirement income from back home helps tremendously. The host country locals also understand that they have this retirement benefit and don’t question how they are able to live on local wages alone. Retired people working as tentmakers are more likely to be accepted by locals and less likely to be expelled for sharing their faith. Old age is respected in most countries where the need for the Gospel is the greatest.
Implications for job acquisition and working overseas
Choosing a vocation:
The basic question to ask is, “Where do my gifts, skills, and motivations best fit the many needs of peoples overseas?” In reality, there are varying needs in different countries, in different provinces, and even among different peoples. If you are early enough in choosing a vocation, the first step is to research needs related to any vocations in which you are interested. Do general research to learn what kinds of jobs are available and the specific tasks and skills involved. If you have any sense of God’s leading you to a particular region of the world, research that region and the job market in that region. Progressively adjust your vocational focus and training to best serve those needs.
It is also helpful to do some vocational, work profile testing to better understand yourself—your interests, task motivations, and abilities. Gaining some experience in a proposed vocation is extremely helpful because many students end up working in jobs they have never really observed or experienced before.
Building your competence:
What if you have already chosen a vocation? Trust God’s leading, do the research to focus your vocation to best meet real needs, and get further training and experience if needed to better serve. We do not need to be in such a rush to get overseas. What we are doing at home can provide invaluable training to increase our work and our ministry effectiveness. In fact, since your goal is to serve people well, you want to intentionally build your competence through good training, work experience, cross-cultural experience, and even language training based on good research. It is becoming increasingly valuable to have cross-cultural experience in obtaining jobs in addition to preparing the tentmaker to be more effective.
The crucial secret to finding a job is to take initiative and doggedly persist at it. Most job search firms cannot do better than you can, and in fact, probably do less well, in conducting your job search. The reality is that the reputable firms make their money from employers, not from you. No one has your interests more at heart than you do.
Since there is no organized, centralized job market, but only a web of needs and personnel, no firm has anywhere near all the contact or openings in your field. Many jobs are never advertised and over 80% of job acquisition involves some networking. No one is better at doing the job search than you.
Research the companies which work overseas in your field. A recent report indicates that nearly 80% of mid-size to large companies deploy employees on extended overseas assignments and 45% plan to increase the number. Apply directly to these companies even when jobs have been filled. Many firms maintain an in-house résumé bank from which they draw for future openings. Many appreciate the initiative of people who network with their company and are especially responsive to people with special skills. So network. Also research development agencies and NGOs which hire people in your field and work in areas of the world in which you are interested.
When you visit the website of a company you might want to work at, and click on the “Careers” button, most often you will not find a job opening that is suitable, or worse yet, no job openings at all.
Write the company an email, tell them you are interested in working for them, and although currently there are no job openings, you sent them your CV anyway. You might be surprised. We often hear from tentmakers that sending that email enquiry, resulted in a job that was open but not posted. You are also showing initiative by sending a direct email. It is important that you research the company before contacting them as shows them you have taken the time to learn.
Look for overseas jobs in your country first. Most corporations initiate and pursue recruitment within the their own nations. If you want to take more initiative, travel to the cities where companies are located to search for international jobs.
“No one is better at doing the job search than You”
Job search companies and head hunters can charge up to 25% of your first years salary. If you are planning on using them, contact Global Intent and for a much smaller fee, we can also help you find those openings. This way you support the ongoing ministry of mobilizing new tentmakers.
It is our hope to start a jobs database company for tentmakers. Stay tuned!
Network, network, network!
The vast majority of jobs are obtained through some kind of networking. Ultimately, people connect with people, not paper. Managers are much more likely to hire someone who has been referred to them than someone who is only a name on a résumé. Researching jobs will alert you to companies in which you have contacts. Use those contacts. Network to increase your number of contacts.
With the interconnectedness of the world today, experts claim that we are at most six levels removed from any person on the planet. In other words, if you knew the right path, you know someone who knows someone who knows someone, etc. who know each individual on earth.
Use the Internet.
The Internet is changing the whole job market. More and more jobs are being listed through more and more services because of the relative ease, speed, and low cost of the Internet.
You should set aside at least one hour
or more for your job search sessions!
Subscribe to professional journals in your field. Almost all good professional publications have job listings. Go to your local library or subscribe to and read the one that has many international listings, usually on the last pages.
Take long-haul approach.
Take the process as an adventure and learning experience, which can contribute to your relational and communication skills. It often takes time to find suitable jobs in one’s area of expertise. Effective cross-cultural workers are good at taking initiative and not giving up.
Getting the job:
Customize your CV and résumé to fit the job opening.
Recruiters and personnel people scan résumés and CVs to see whether the skills they need are listed and keep recurring. If not, they are on to the next résumé/CV, often in less than five minutes. So you have to show that you have the competencies that they need. Of course, don’t say you do if you don’t. Within the limits of good form, lay out your résumé/CV to set you apart and highlight the competencies the company needs, usually in a separate section. You want to be memorable, to stand out. GO’s Associates website has resources to help with this area and with developing a CV which is more personal and extensive than a résumé. You may also want to borrow or buy a book on CVs.
Spread your résumé/CV widely.
This may seem contradictory at first. But it is usually helpful to spread the net widely. Still customize your résumé/CV as much as possible to the prevailing needs in the international job market. Consider Resume posting services. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date! Increasingly tentmakers are finding their jobs through this service.
Research the company before applying for a job.
Once you find a company you would like to work for, spend time on the company’s website to learn what they are about, read about their people, board members, mission statement, focus, products, aspirations etc. Be well versed on all facets of the company before you get to an interview.
Connect in the interview.
Today, the most often used interview channel is video calls. It is important to make a human connection with the hiring person or persons. Then it is important to be targeted to their needs, to show how you can contribute to their goals and make them successful. You want to be memorable as a person who can meet their needs and who would really like to work with them. These goals require that you research the company, projects, and position ahead of time. Do this before an interview so you come across as an informed applicant.
Make sure your video call system is setup well with good lighting and quality microphone and speakers. Check the background to make sure it looks presentable to the interviewer. Try to arrange your equipment in a way that builds a natural distance to the camera, about one meter away and place your webcam at an eye level. Don’t stare down at your own monitor, but keep focused on the camera. You want to build a comfortable and natural communication channel.
The only 3 real interview questions are:
- Can you do the job?
- Will you love the job?
- Can we tolerate working with you?
International Jobs has one more:
- Will they finish the full term? It costs companies a small fortune to get foreign workers to come to their country, add to that the cost of housing, medical plans and schooling for children. It is vital that the interviewer hears clearly that you are one of those people that will complete the job contract.
Feel free to add that as a Christian, you are doing your work as unto God, and this means to not only doing your work well but to honor agreements such as a job contract.
Most contracts last one or two years and then have to be renewed. Many jobs are tied to specific projects. Therefore, international workers must frequently change jobs. By the way, this can be taken into account in choosing the kind of job you prepare for and seek. Performing your job with excellence and genuine servanthood will help to make you so valuable that your contract will be renewed. In some settings, this can continue for decades.
But many will have to find new jobs in the same city to continue there. When that becomes impossible, we can trust that God is moving us on. Tentmakers must keep networking and seeking for leads on new job openings in the area where they live.
Tentmakers also need to update their skills and knowledge. Many companies tend to pass over people who have been overseas too long because they fear they are out of touch with current knowledge and technology. Therefore it is important to read in one’s field and to find ways to keep updating skills. Consider using some travel time to take cutting-edge courses in the States or equivalent courses offered abroad.
Teaching English as a Second Language – TESL
“20,000 ESL job openings worldwide”
I believe that the demand for English language skills all around the world is God’s gift to our generation and that it is a key component in fulfilling the Great Commission.
Every tentmaker, regardless of their profession should get an ESL teaching certificate before leaving. Whether you like the idea of teaching English or not, you need to do this. If you don’t, you will miss many opportunities for sharing your faith in a very natural way and at the same time adding value to the lives of those you are seeking to reach.
“Teaching English as a Second Language is perhaps the best Tentmaking opportunity.” Ralph Winter
Degree in any field + ESL certificate = More pay.
It is that simple. Even if your BA or MA is in theological studies, it does not matter, as together with an ESL certificate you will qualify for good to well paying part time or full time jobs. For those without a degree, there will still have many opportunities to teach English
formally or informally.
Two week intensive course at a local college or institution. This will include in class practical teaching experience as well.
Minimal 60 hour ESL certificate program – these are usually over four weekends, allowing people to get their certificate without taking time off from work or school. Oxford Seminars is one of our suggestions.
Online TESL course. If you absolutely can’t attend a classroom course, then this is your last resort. There are so many of these online courses that it is impossible to track with them. You can learn a lot by simply researching them yourself. Lock in some dedicated time to do this as there is so much out there. You might want to start at Dave’s ESL Café website. Note that this is not a Christian website, and you will find crass language at time in the forums.
ESP – English for Specific Purposes
This is what you should strive for! We hear from many tentmakers that they have seen a “fast tracking” of ministry when they teach English to locals who share their interest and passion.
A former flight attendant taught English to flight attendants in Asia and quickly saw a Bible study being born. You can read this story in the book, “The Accidental Tenmakers” available as an eBook from us.
A dedicated snowboarder and English teacher from Canada basically invented the sport of sandboarding in the desert, which allowed him to connect with hundreds of locals as he introduced them to the sport and his faith. He was even interviewed on local radio about this strange pastime of sliding down sand dunes. During this radio interview which ran multiple times, he had an opportunity to answer questions about his faith in the process reaching a city of over one million that only had one radio station.
A coffee shop businessman loved his guitar, so he started teaching guitar playing to his students. This led to an amateur hour at his coffee shop where budding singers/guitarists were able to explore and expand their skills. A Bible study was soon started in the café.
“Over one billion people are studying ESL worldwide – 300 million in China!”
Where should you go?
“Don’t ask God for the whole world
– ask Him to pinpoint the place where
He can use you most effectively”
Ari J. Rocklin
This is actually your starting point in looking for a job.
Sometimes tentmaker candidates tell us that they will go wherever they can find a job. Perhaps, God is more interested in placing you in a place where your interests, skills, passions, knowledge,
Ask God to give you a passion for a nation! Do you believe that it is important to God that you share His passion for the nations and that he has prepared a place for you and has prepared you for that place?
Where is the greatest need for the Gospel? As a tentmaker, the world is your oyster. You can go just about anywhere and one can always rationalize that wherever you go, there are people who need to hear about Jesus.
“Why should anyone hear about Jesus a second time
when there are people who have yet to hear of Him the first time?”
The advantage tentmaking has over traditional missions is simply that they can go where the doors are closed to the supported missionary. It is simply about getting a visa. The number of countries that are no longer issuing missionary or religious worker visas is dwindling and they are often the same countries where Jesus is least known.
Finding a job is not the greatest miracle – The greatest miracle is that God has been able to inspire in you a desire to leave your comfort zone for the sake of the Gospel
100’s of people find international jobs weekly
Many are taken by cults – which is why we need Christians in the mix!
New jobs are posted hourly
God will give you a passion for a nation!
© 2017 – Ari J. Rocklin