Q&A Project Management Careers – Working Abroad

I’ve been a freelance project manager for a while now in the U.S. I’ve been struggling to find new assignments and I would like to move abroad to the U.K or Australia. How easy is it to pick up work?

This is a common question I’ve been asked over the last few years in some ways due to the global economic situation. It may seem that the grass is greener when looking at freelance opportunities in other countries, and for some business sectors that may be true. Making the move however is not always as straightforward as it may seem.


Most organisations that are looking for contract or freelance project managers tend to want them now; they are not prepared to wait weeks until someone has packed up their life in another country and made themselves available to start work. In many cases the freelancing project manager is expected to be available for interview and starting work within days. If you are serious about wanting to work within another country as a freelancer you need to be prepared to take a risk; move to the country and then start looking for opportunities.


This can however lead to another barrier. You also need to make sure you have the correct working visas – or the right to work in the country you choose. There are also different needs for each country – skills that are not readily available in the local workforce – therefore checks to see if project managers are one of them. There are also different entry criteria depending on the country you’re interested in – but most would expect that you are healthy, solvent and unfortunately some would expect that you have a job position already and in some cases sponsorship by an employer.


Another option that you might consider is that of a permanent position within the country you’re interested in. It is not necessarily an easier option, just a longer recruitment process which will allow your application to be considered. If an organisation is interested in you, you must be prepared to incur costs for travelling to interviews (not all organisations have moved with the times and offer video interviews!). You must also be aware that an organisation wouldn’t necessarily pay for your relocation costs if you were offered the position. The upside is of course that the organisation would organise the correct visa for you entitling you to work in the country.


There is one more option worth considering which would enable you to carry on working on a freelance basis in a new country and that means working your own network. You need to understand more about how you could be working for consultancy based businesses that look for associates to work on short projects. In essence you would be working for a business (obtaining the correct visas) whilst still working on a freelance or associate basis. To find out more about this option, start researching and making connections with people and businesses based in the country you are interested in.

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  1. Do many/most PM’s work on a freelance basis? My feeling is that most are full-time employees who are hired by their companies to be Project Managers or move into Project Management as part of their career progression. I’d be interested in reading more about moving into freelancing project management work.

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