Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tortola, Ho! Part 1: Getting Hired

So how does someone go about moving to the British Virgin Islands, anyway?

I'm sure the answer to that question varies from person to person, depending on financial resources, and the lifestyle you're looking for when you get here.

When we were trying to move, I couldn't find anyone's answer to that question. I thought I'd share our experience, in the hope that it may help others down the line. Even if your reasons for moving are different from ours, or you're relocating to a different part of the Caribbean, I hope that our experiences might help prepare you for some of the things you may encounter.

Sometime in February 2010, HB was at work, and it was a boring day. He and his assistant, George, were talking, trying to pass the time. Amongst the variety of topics broached were 1) How much HB had enjoyed Tortola on our recent Christmas cruise and 2) How little HB was enjoying his current job.

George was familiar with Tortola, as he had once worked coordinating shipments to all of the company's locations in the Caribbean. George mentioned that the owner of the location on Tortola was a good friend of his. One thing led to another, and soon, George was promising HB a list of all the owners in the Caribbean.

HB came home that night and told me about his conversation with George, half-laughing at the coincidence of it. The next day, George handed HB a list of names and contact numbers for the owners, and again mentioned his especially strong connection with the owner of the Tortola location. George asked HB if he would like George to get in touch with any of the owners, and HB, figuring it couldn't hurt, said "why not?"

George called his good friend, the owner of the Tortola location. They chatted briefly about the company, and then George asked how things were going.

"Ok, ok. But I could really use a really great manager. Do you have anyone you could send me?" the owner asked.

"I think I have a guy here who might be interested."

"Well, have him send me his resume," and the owner gave George his e-mail address.

Both HB and I were stunned at how quickly an opportunity had presented itself. Before that fateful February day, we had half-heartedly fantasized about living in the Caribbean, but certainly had no plans to leave Florida any time soon. Neither of us had made any effort to research job opportunities in the Caribbean, nor did we have any idea what it would take to move and work here.

Obviously, not everyone is going to have a George. HB could have gone years and years and never had a George, and in that, he got ridiculously lucky. What can be taken from HB's experience, I think, is that if you want to move to the Caribbean, looking in the line of work that you currently perform is not a bad way to start.

HB made a more-or-less lateral move from one location in the company to another. I think it wouldn't be too hard for most other people to do the same, if what you're doing now is in any way skilled labor.

Well-qualified, skilled people are always wanted here. Many companies who may not have an opening will make one for the right person. Most of the phone books for most of the islands are available online. Pick an island, find what you do in the yellow pages, and start making some calls. You may not get your first pick of islands, but you will, eventually, find work in the Caribbean.

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