Lessons Learned in Pursuit of International Tech Opportunities

I’ve been thinking a lot about working in another country. It’s something I’ve been interested in since my trip to Australia in 2017. I’ve always imagined living in Australia or maybe somewhere in Europe, surrounded by different cultures.

Taking up a tech job abroad will push me beyond what I’m used to. It’s not just about work; it’s about experiencing new places while earning a salary. It’s also about giving my child access to better education opportunities. Moving to an English-speaking country could make them fluent in the language, which would be a great advantage for their future.

I’ve decided to write about my journey to find a job overseas. This year, I didn’t secure a job with relocation benefits, but I did find a remote position that allowed me to relocate to Singapore after one year of service. It’s a different path than I expected, but it’s exciting nonetheless.

Here’s a bit about me: I started my career as a medical technologist, spending over 3 years at a primary healthcare facility (Puskesmas). Later, I transitioned into coding after completing a coding boot camp. I began my journey as a junior front-end developer in early 2018 and eventually moved to Tokopedia after almost two years.

Considering a move abroad can be thrilling both personally and professionally. Here are the key factors guiding my choice of destination:

  • Language- English as the primary language is crucial for communication and integration.
  • Work Permit- The ease of obtaining a work permit is essential for a smooth transition.
  • Tech Hub- Opting for a city with a vibrant tech scene opens up more job opportunities.
  • Cost of Living- Affordability is a significant factor in deciding where to settle.
  • Travel Accessibility- Being relatively close to Indonesia ensures easier travel back and forth.

To determine where I wanted to relocate, I started by researching several countries that caught my interest. My list includes Australia, Singapore, Estonia, the Netherlands, and the UK. Australia and Singapore are my top choices because they are just one flight away from Jakarta, and both countries use English as their primary language. Singapore particularly stands out for its excellent education system, while Australia offers comparable benefits. Estonia appeals to me due to its abundance of tech job opportunities with relocation support, although its colder climate is worth considering. The Netherlands and the UK boast vibrant tech scenes within Europe, making them attractive options for career growth and development.

One of the most challenging parts of securing a job is passing the initial CV screening before the technical interview stage. To increase my chances, I devoted considerable effort to tailor my resume meticulously. I began by listing my skills and crafting detailed descriptions of my experience, emphasizing my role at my current company. I made sure to highlight specific achievements and include measurable results to impress hiring managers.

While I didn’t initially include a cover letter, I later realized its potential to set me apart from other applicants. Understanding its importance, I decided to invest in professional proofreading services, which cost me IDR 75k. This step ensured my resume was polished and effectively communicated my qualifications and enthusiasm for the role.

Having strong English skills is crucial for finding a job anywhere in the world, especially in English-speaking countries. Despite feeling unsure about speaking English at first, I’ve taken steps to get better. I decided to hire an English language tutor, which has been helpful. I also practice daily, sometimes using language apps to improve my skills. Watching programming YouTube videos has been great too. Learning common phrasal verbs used in technical interviews has been particularly beneficial.

I recognize that securing a tech job abroad remains challenging, emphasizing the importance of fluent English. Even in non-native English-speaking countries, proficiency in English is highly valued in professional settings. This motivates me to continuously improve my language abilities to increase my opportunities for success.

When preparing for technical interviews, I focus on practicing coding challenges ranging from easy to medium difficulty. This helps me sharpen my problem-solving skills. Additionally, I make sure to review and refresh my knowledge of Javascript and React, as these are crucial for front-end development roles.

Understanding the basics is fundamental, so I dedicate time to studying foundational concepts. I also find it beneficial to explore system design topics to broaden my understanding.

To gain insights into specific companies and their interview processes, I visit Glassdoor to read interview reviews. This allows me to familiarize myself with common technical questions and better prepare for the types of challenges I might encounter during the interview process.

When searching for tech jobs abroad, I initially used LinkedIn to apply for positions offering relocation packages, submitting over 60 applications through the easy apply feature. However, based on my experience, I wouldn’t recommend this approach. Instead, I found that networking and referrals are more effective.

To increase my chances, I focused on securing referrals. I reached out to Indonesian engineers currently employed at my target companies, inviting them to informal coffee chats to discuss their experiences and insights into the hiring process. This allowed me to build connections and eventually ask for a referral.

Another strategy I employed was sending personalized messages to recruiters and engineering managers, inquiring about opportunities for foreign workers. By bypassing traditional job boards, I aimed to establish direct communication and showcase my interests and qualifications effectively.

Overall, leveraging referrals and direct networking proved to be more fruitful in my job search abroad than relying solely on online applications.

Reflecting on my job search journey, it took me three months to receive a job offer. Out of over 60 applications, I secured 16 interviews, suggesting my CV may not have stood out as much as I hoped, possibly due to my relatively limited experience of under five years.

LinkedIn proved invaluable in my search. A well-crafted profile led to recruiters reaching out and swift invitations to initial interviews, showcasing its effectiveness in job hunting.

I had the opportunity to interview several unicorn tech companies, including ByteDance, Booking.com, Canva, Rakuten, Veriff, and PropertyGuru. While excited, I faced challenges, such as struggling with Hackerrank screenings and live coding sessions, which affected my performance.

In Estonia, interview processes were straightforward, typically consisting of one to two-hour live coding sessions without take-home tests.

My experience with Pipedrive was positive, though they opted for a more senior candidate. Conversely, I faltered during an HR screening at Coolblue, highlighting the importance of researching companies and salary expectations beforehand.

At Canva, despite stumbling over ES6 questions and battling anxiety, I aimed to improve with each interview. PropertyGuru offered a remote position after rigorous technical rounds, marking my sole job offer. I look forward to collaborating with developers from Singapore, Malaysia, and India.

Unicorn tech companies typically conduct multiple technical and behavioral interviews over four to five weeks, emphasizing thorough preparation and revisiting fundamental skills.

Interviewing can be taxing; maintaining focus and resilience is key. It’s normal to learn from each experience but dwelling excessively can hinder progress. Instead, stay committed to refining your approach and landing your dream job.

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