As a fellow Romanian who now lives in a different country, this hits close to home. Let me share a personal story about what my family went through and explain how we dealt with it, along with some tips we learned from personal experience.
When I was a child my family and I moved from Romania to Canada for better job opportunities. Both my parents had university degrees and successful previous careers in Romania with good salaries and benefits, but the word was that Canada was better. My father picked up a fantastic job in Canada - so good in fact that he was happily telling my mother that she wouldn't need to look for a job again, that he was earning enough for all of us. My mother however decided it would be best for both of them to work, but she had a lot of difficulty getting a job. In the end, despite her job history, she took a job that paid very little and involved doing "grunt work" that she was certainly over-qualified for. It wasn't great, but my father had a better job, so it wasn't a big deal.
Then my father suddenly got laid off when his company's financial situation worsened. Suddenly he was unemployed, and my mother had to try to support all of us on a low salary. To make things worse, my father couldn't find another job. He tried and tried, sending resumes to hundreds of companies, but nothing ever materialized out of it. He got desperate enough that he picked up low-salary assembly line & janitorial jobs completely unrelated to his field, though none of these lasted long either.
But then things got better. Both my parents went back to school to enhance their education. My father switched to a different field that was more in demand and still paid well, and he soon had a new job that he has stayed at for many years. My mother, through her network of other Romanians living in the area, picked up a much better job than she had in Romania after she finished another college diploma. Now they're both happy and hold stable jobs despite being either unemployed or working in low-end jobs for a long time. Things DO get better. You just have to work at it.
So, you'll be wondering what you should do. Here are the tips that my family learned over the years about working in a foreign country:
- Your network is very important. A lot of people get hired through the people they know. It's very important that you meet and stay in contact with people in your relevant field, even if you don't think they can help you right away, because you never know when you might need them. This doesn't mean contacting people solely to look for work though. It's an ongoing process of staying in touch with people and being willing to help them back. It's particularly useful to find other Romanians living abroad, because they may have similar experiences and their own tips on overcoming challenges that come up. If you currently know some people from your previous work abroad, contact them, ask them how they are doing, and tell them about your situation. You may be surprised at how many will be willing to help you. Just don't push them too hard to find you a job right away, since their time is valuable too and you want to remain connected in the long run.
- The language barrier is real. If you plan to work in a foreign country, make sure you know its primary language very well. It's okay to have an accent, but just make sure it isn't a strong enough one that people won't understand you when you're speaking. If they can't understand you, you won't be able to make a successful case to them on why they should hire you, and they will think that hiring you will make it difficult for them to communicate work tasks. This all applies to writing as well, not just reading.
- Find something else to build your resume. While you're unemployed, it's a good idea to find something to do that can make your resume even better. In particular, consider going back to school, taking on a project relevant to your field, volunteering, or even starting your own business. All of these will show a prospective employer that you were still busy during this period and haven't "forgotten" how to do things. If you have a long gap between your last job and now, it will raise a huge red flag to prospective employers. Find something to plug it.
- Consider switching fields. If the job opportunities for a particular field just aren't there, try somewhere else, even if only temporarily. It's better to have a job in a different field than no job at all. This may involve going back to school first though.
- Don't lose hope. This may seem like a silly thing to say, but a lot of people fall into depression after not being able to find relevant work for a long time and simply give up. This doesn't mean that the work is out there, it just means that you still have more searching to do. Be determined, and be willing to send lots of tailored resumes/CVs to many different companies over and over again. Make sure each resume specifically shows how you can add value to that business, rather than sending the same generic thing that will immediately get thrown out by a hiring manager.
And lastly, when it comes to interviewing and explaining why you were unemployed for a long time, be honest. You are certainly qualified, you had some great opportunities, then you thought you had a better one back in Romania that was also close to your family. The opportunity didn't materialize because of the company's financial situation, and you have since been looking for another one. Make it clear that you have every intention of moving to the new country and staying there for work and that you don't see Romania as a place to build your career due to the economic situation there, in case employers think you'll just run back to Romania at every opportunity. And if you follow point number 3 above, you will have other things to talk about to take the interviewer's mind off the unemployment. Above all, show that you can make a meaningful contribution to their business in a way that other applicants cannot.
Hopefully all this information helps. Again, don't ever give up. You will find something.