It wasn’t long ago that few countries had enough skilled IT workers, but no more. Just like Americans, many citizens of both developed and undeveloped countries now view IT as their ticket to financial success.

But which skills are most in demand, and where can you find resources to help you locate work overseas? We’ll take a look in this article.

Second in a series

The previous installment in this series, “Got the travel bug? Consider contracting outside the United States,” covered which countries are friendliest to foreign IT workers and where to look for information about work permits and visas. Next week’s installment will discuss teaching and volunteer opportunities abroad.

Who’s in demand?
Contractors face stringent requirements for obtaining legal permission to work overseas. Like the United States, most countries issue work visas only to foreigners who possess skills in short supply in that country.

Generally, either you or your potential employer (or both) must demonstrate that you provide a skill not currently available in the local population or, for European Union countries, within the EU.

Fortunately, IT skills are in demand everywhere.

What it takes
According to, the following IT development skills are in top demand right now:

  • Java combined with C++
  • Perl/CGI Script/JavaScript/VBScript
  • Oracle Financials
  • Oracle Developer/Designer 2000
  • SQL Server
  • Visual Basic/Visual C++
  • PeopleSoft applications
  • All CRM packages, especially Siebel and Oracle CRM

Systems administration skills include Windows NT and UNIX, while Axe 10, DMS, and SMA/SDH/SL are the hot telecom skills. If you possess these skills, you’re more likely to find a foreign company willing to go to bat for your work permit.

Web resources for finding work overseas
Despite the obstacles you might face in securing a contract with a foreign company, you may be able to land a contract if you’re willing to put in some research and be patient. Here are several Web sites where you can find leads on contract work abroad and additional information:

The UK, Europe, and “The Rest of the World.” Those are among the search options at Freelance Informer. This site is geared primarily towards Brits looking for contract work in the UK, Europe, and beyond, but you can use it to search for available positions, including many short-term projects. Work permit requirements are not always stated, but you can e-mail for more information.

Ireland. Billing itself as Ireland’s largest recruitment agency, The Marlborough Group provides a comprehensive job search site, allowing users to track down both IT and tech/engineering categories throughout Ireland. One welcome feature: The site allows you to search by either contract or permanent jobs.

Australia. CareerOne provides search capabilities for Australian jobs in many fields, including Internet/new media, technology, and telecommunications. The results list both permanent and contract positions, although they’re geared to the local job market.

However, Aussie friendliness is legendary—try using the contact information posted for many positions to get your foot in the door at an agency. If you impress a good contact, he or she may be willing to start the sponsorship process if you’re qualified.

Anywhere. At Net Contractor Search, you can type in a keyword to search a database of contractor links. I found that inputting a skill didn’t turn up nearly as many links as supplying a geographic area.

For example, typing Java returned nothing useful, while typing Europe returned many links to agencies in Europe, including a Dutch agency offering “Plenty IT Jobs For You!” This site works well for finding agencies in specific countries.

For more options, check to see if the job search engines you’re already using offer international search options. For example, at, click the Job Search tab to access the advanced search; then, select International in the Restrict By State menu.

Because Dice is predominantly a U.S. job board, the companies posting jobs here seem more willing to help you get permits for working abroad.

Meredith Little runs WriteWork, a documentation consulting business she started in 1998. Based in Colorado, the company provides procedural documentation, knowledge management expertise, and solutions such as user manuals and online help to IT companies nationwide.

What resources helped you find work abroad?

What Web sites or placement services did you find helpful when you decided to work abroad? Tell your fellow members about them: Post a comment below or send us an e-mail.