The national unemployment rate may be at its worst in over a decade, but there's a world of opportunity out there beyond Wall Street. Some regions are holding up better than others--Montreal is proving to be a hot bed for the video game industry, while the UAE is fertile ground for the airline industry.
To aid in your quest for a steady paycheck that doesn't involve licking stamps or bagging groceries, Fast Company did some global groundwork. We talked to international headhunter Heidrick & Struggles, economists and career consultants to uncover innovative companies around the globe that are bucking the downturn and actively hiring. Here's a snapshot of who they are, what they have open and what they're looking for in prospective job candidates.
Mobile phone giant Nokia is a household name for good reason: The company expects to sell about 50 times as many phones as Apple this year. It recently released its first touchscreen phone, which offers a music subscription service. Nokia currently has about 200 different jobs available at various locations around the world.
What they're looking for: People to develop and deploy Internet based entertainment services such as music and games, social media apps, maps and navigation utilities, and communications services such as email, text messaging and instant messaging. While Nokia is headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, they are also actively hiring in Berlin (for location based services), Bristol (for music services) and Montreal (for consumer messaging.) The phone maker plans on increasing its research and development operations in both Romania and India. A list of vacancies can be found on Nokia’s corporate website.
Qualifications: Nokia looks for candidates with domain and industry specific knowledge, particularly for positions related to the Internet based services described above. A background in social media, digital music or online gaming is particularly useful. If you have no prior professional experience, you still stand a chance: Nokia recruits people straight out of college.
Getting a visa: The company is open to helping accepted candidates apply for work visas. Apart from using in house HR professionals, Nokia also pays for external professionals to help negotiate the red tape. To learn more about obtaining a Finnish work visa, click here.
Word to the wise: The cell-phone market, like every other consumer electronics sector, is hurting. Nokia expects a drop of about 5 percent in the global mobile market in 2009.
Video game developer Ubisoft lays claim to such blockbuster titles as Assassin's Creed, Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia, and Far Cry. Although headquartered in Montreuil-sous-Bois, France, its Montreal office is where the action is. At 2000 people strong it's the biggest of Ubisoft's studios, laying claim to all of the games mentioned above. The clincher: the Montreal studio is actively expanding -- they plan on recruiting 1000 new employees by 2013.
What they're looking for: Due to expansion plans, the company is looking to recruit talented, passionate individuals across a variety of areas: animation, art, programming, as well as game and level design. For more information, check out Ubisoft's careers page.
Qualifications: Ubisoft primarily looks for creativity, technical skills, and problem solving skills. They prefer candidates who exhibit the ability to be team players, since developing, producing and publishing a game involves a high degree of collaboration. The interview process is rigorous: every artist and animator must have a demo to apply. Candidates may also have to take a technical test, and meet with (and impress) their potential team.
Getting a visa: Ubisoft's Montreal office has two specialists in the HR department who handle immigration, and, if accepted, the company will handle all necessary immigration and relocation procedures for you. You must have a Bachelor's degree, and a minimum of two years pertinent educational experience.
Word to the wise: While Montreal is the closest location to the US on our list -- both geographically and culturally -- it would be wise to take note of a few differences before you pack. For one thing, the weather isn't pretty; be prepared to bundle up against rain, snow and an average yearly temperature of 43 degrees Fahrenheit.
Working for BMW could be called a dream job -- if for no reason other that the glam factor of being a part of the world's best-known car brand.
What they're looking for: BMW is primarily on the look out for engineers in electricity and electronics based in Munich, Germany. They're also looking for information scientists and mechanical engineers who already have experience in motors, chassis and auto bodies. The intersection of automotive engineering, information technology, and sustainability is where BMW expects to see the most growth.
Qualifications: Specific engineering knowledge as well as non-technical competencies like collaboration and time management are high on the BMW's skills list. If you're just starting out, you need college results that distinguish you from a crowd, work experience (having worked abroad is a plus), good communication skills in both German and English. Also steel yourself for the interview: you need to come off as a hard worker, someone who takes personal initiative and can engage with others.
Getting a visa: BMW is open to helping qualified Americans secure German work visas. For more information on obtaining a German work visa, visit the German section of the Embassy of the United States.
Word to the wise: While there are plenty of gourmet options, standard German fare isn't for the faint-hearted. Be prepared to hit the gym -- or become reacquainted with your freshman-15 after a month of schnitzel, sausage, potatoes, and beer.
Billund, Denmark-based toy maker LEGO continues to hold universal appeal. The company expects growth this year despite the downturn and is keeping its brand fresh with new initiatives -- like the ability to create a custom design online and then order the plastic bricks and snap it to life.
What they're looking for: LEGO is recruiting across the fields of engineering, design, finance, IT and supply chain management. A list of current vacancies can be found on the LEGO careers page.
Qualifications: Although the qualifications vary substantially between jobs, the one trait the company looks for in all job candidates: a passion for the LEGO brand.
Getting a visa: The company is open to recruiting employees from outside Denmark, and helps not only with the paperwork but the adjustment process as well. They offer Danish lessons twice a week, provide expatriates with a benefits package, and even have a LEGO expatriates club. For more information on obtaining a Danish work visa, click here.
Word to the wise: Danes are known for their manners so always be punctual and on your best behavior, especially when first introduced to people. Unlike in the U.S., banter and small talk aren't the norm. For instance, people usually won't ask how you are -- the greeting is reserved for friends, relatives and those who are ill.
The Emirates Group (United Arab Emirates)
The Emirates Group, based in Dubai, is the parent company of the fastest growing airline across the globe. Emirates Airlines is positioned to soon have the world's largest long-haul fleet. Over the last eight years, the group has hired over 40,000 new employees and currently has about 155 nationalities employed.
What they're looking for: Apart from recruiting pilots, engineers and cabin crew, Emirates continues to recruit airline commercial staff (who deal with pricing, revenue optimization, sales, and yield management), HR professionals, marketers. promotions/events management staff, finance and treasury professionals, doctors, nurses, lawyers, procurement specialists, IT business analysts, airport operational and terminal staff, sales and call center personnel, and cargo staff. They are also looking for lecturers and professional trainers to work at the Group's Medical Clinic and Emirates College.
Qualifications: Due to the diverse array of jobs available, Emirates could not offer information on particular qualifications. Instead they emphasized the importance of each new hire's personality and the need for them to mesh with the overall needs of the Group. Recruiters are trained not only to interview and assess individual candidates' competency levels, but also look for each candidate’s fit with corporate values.
Getting a visa: Emirates is open to hiring candidates of different nationalities. The group's employee service team handles work visa applications for all accepted candidates. For more information on visas for the UAE, visit UAE Interact’s travel page.
Word to the wise: Although the UAE is not as conservative as it used to be, the country still has a low tolerance for homosexuality and sex before marriage, as well as a zero tolerance policy towards drugs -- users and sellers may face the death penalty. Despite the heat, women are expected to avoid skimpy attire in favor of clothing that provides more coverage. And strict cultural norms govern interaction between men and women. For instance, men do not shake hands, embrace, maintain eye contact or talk about personal matters, with a native UAE female without consent.
Samsung Electronics (South Korea)
The world's second largest mobile phone manufacturer, Samsung Electronics has a foothold in a variety of other markets -- ranging from home appliances and electronics to MP3 players and computers. Each year, Samsung Electronics in Seoul, South Korea hires anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 new employees.
What they're looking for: Samsung Electronics is actively recruiting engineers with electronic, electrical, computer science, mechanical, physics, and material engineering majors and MBA graduates to work in the Digital Media, Telecommunication Network, Semiconductor, and LCD divisions. Available positions primarily fall within the areas of research and development, marketing and sales, and administrative staffing. In the future, the company plans to expand in a variety fields, including solar battery and fuel cell, as well as robotics.
Qualifications: Apart from having expertise in their own particular fields, whether engineering, business or marketing, candidates are also expected to be highly motivated, display creativity and organizational skills, and possess the ability to handle competition.
Getting a visa: Samsung Electronics helps accepted candidates obtain work visas -- which they say are not hard to get. Visa policies require that all candidates hold a master’s degree in either engineering or business administration, or a bachelor’s degree in engineering with at least one year of related work experience. For more information about obtaining a work visa for South Korea, visit the consulate website.
Word to the wise: Take the time to learn a bit about Korean etiquette before you visit to avoid any embarrassing cultural faux pas. For instance, individuals of a lower status bow to those of a higher status, and gifts should never be wrapped in green, white, or black paper as this is considered inauspicious.
Swiss packaged foods company Nestle manufacturers everything from coffee and bottled water to infant foods and chocolate. With about one billion products being sold every day, the Nestle brand is a household name around the world.
What they're looking for: Nestle is recruiting candidates across all its business disciplines including sales, marketing, supply chain and procurement, manufacturing, R&D, finance and human resources. Learn more by checking out its careers website here.
Qualifications: Strong academic qualifications, essential language abilities and relevant internships or professional experience are expected from all graduates applying to Nestle. The company's aim is to recruit individuals with the attitudes and skills that will enable them to stay on as long-term employees. It expects employees to be dynamic, pragmatic, team players, high achievers and to possess integrity.
Getting a visa: Nestlé helps all accepted candidates apply for a Swiss work permit. That being said, candidates must meet the criteria to work in Switzerland -- while EU and EFTA member state citizens are easily admitted, requirements are more stringent for those of other nationalities. For more information about obtaining a Swiss work visa, visit the Swiss Federal Office for Migration.
Word to the wise: The Swiss are known for being reserved and discrete -- at least initially. So while you might be used to regaling the office with loud, boisterous or even lewd accounts of your drunken weekend on Monday mornings, in Switzerland you'll need to tone your humor -- and your voice -- down a notch.