During your search for a job, make sure you find out lots of background information about the country you want to work in. Contact the relevant embassy in the UK or surf the internet. If you're planning to work in the European Union, try the Eures Network, a series of links to websites of the employment services in all EU countries.
www.citizens.eu.int/en/en/destinationchoice.htm is very good. It may also be worth contacting specialist recruitment agencies, which you can find through the Recruitment & Employment Confederation's site, www.rec.uk.com.
Try and visit the country before deciding to go and work there. You can also find out which sectors and industries are buoyant and if your skills are in demand. You must also consider accommodation, schooling for children and the cost of living. Check the British Embassy to see how many other ex-pats are there (always a good pointer), as well as local newspapers and websites.
Plan your search carefully. Think of yourself as a Masterchef: choose your menu, prepare the ingredients, start cooking in the right place and hey presto. Otherwise you may find yourself having a rather sour experience and returning home sooner rather than later.
Do I need language skills and qualifications?
A second language is always useful, especially in Europe, and can only enhance your job prospects.
British citizens have the right to work in any other EU country under the same conditions as residents of that country. You also have the right to the same economic benefits provided for unemployed residents.
If you want to earn money and have a really good time, some parts of the Middle East are ideal
Some countries may not fully recognise your professional qualifications, for example engineering degrees, and demand that you take an exam if you want to practice. If you come from a trade background, a recognised qualification in the discipline is expected; senior professionals should have achieved an HNC/HND and generally have at least five years' experience.
Which destinations are popular, and who's in demand?
Popular areas include Qatar in the Arabian Gulf where a large amount of construction is under way, particularly in the oil/gas and petrochemical sectors. France, Spain and Germany remain as popular as ever, along with Eastern Europe. In fact, many UK companies have set up joint partnerships in Eastern Europe countries such as the Czech Republic and Hungary and want specialist quantity surveyors and M&E contract managers. There has also been an upsurge in demand for experienced professionals in the Caribbean.
Many major construction projects overseas are in the retail industry. Companies are looking to the UK for staff with experience of high-quality retail projects such as massive out-of-town shopping malls. Quantity surveyors, M&E specialists and building services specialists are in demand. In Europe, the FM sector has taken off in a big way, and professionals in the sector are very much sought after.
When choosing a destination, consider the reasons you are going there. Is it to earn and save money or to have a really good time? If you plan to save, Eastern Europe is a good bet, but if you want to earn money and have a good time, some parts of the Middle East, such as Dubai, are ideal.
Once I've got the job, what next?
Visas are sanctioned and applied for by the employer and can take two to four days to process; in cases where you need to supply supporting documentation, it can be six weeks.
Robert Smith is managing director of recruitment consultant Hays Montrose.