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FAQs for Living and Working Overseas:

Written by a former Peace Corps Volunteer living overseas since 1989

The Expat Guy: FAQs for Working and Living Overseas

How do I check the reputation of an overseas  employer?

Is your overseas contract worth the paper it is written on?

It's important to check the reputation of your employer.  You can ask directly on discussion boards on the Internet, but they can't know every employer in the world, so your best bet is to talk to the other employees where you intend to work. 

Ask more than one person's opinion

Remember, everyone has a different experience while overseas and that experience often reflects problems or situations away from work.  Even at work one person can love the job and employer, others may not.  Ask more than one person.  Ask specifically what they like or don't like about the employer. 

Pay - do you get it?

Some employers, in some countries, are well known for not paying on time, or paying less than was originally agreed to.  Be sure to check this issue with the current employees. 

A friend of the author once worked for a school with these problems, but stayed there for three years, knowing from talking to others and over time seeing it - that the employer always made good on amounts owing, at the end of the contract.  Problem?  Yes, but she loved the job. So tolerated it, knowing the money due was coming.  And she was paid in full at the end of her employment there.

Contracts not always written in stone . . .

Know that in some parts of the world, particularly in Asia, contracts are often looked at as being  "flexible" instruments, quite a different understanding from how we view them in the West.  Once again, ask the current employees if the contract is followed and if it is not, why and how it is violated.  It may, or may not be an issue that matters to you - so do ask for specifics.

This should not always be the kiss of death for a potential job.  Some small issues are not so important in the big picture if you really like a job, its location, what you will be doing and are well paid on time.

On the other hand . . .

Know that probably 95% of employers pay on time, treat their employees fairly and follow the contracts that have signed.  You just don't hear about them. 

There is a vocal 5% on the Internet who spend a lot of time talking about "scams" and "unfair" employers.  You will, sooner or later get to work with a few of these people and you will probably wish the employer had gotten rid of them even sooner than they did.  There is, often, two sides to the story and one side usually does not get told.

The school the author worked for in Saudi Arabia was excellent about following their contract and in five years I was never treated unfairly.  But there were a few teachers who were fired during that time that raised holy h*ll on the Internet.  If you had read their posts you would have thought the place was run by Satan . . .  It wasn't.

Thus the need for more than one - preferably several - opinions about your potential employer.



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