In today’s tough economic climate, now might just be the time to look into a new opportunity abroad. Working overseas can not only boost your career, but in many cases it is necessary if you want to reach a senior level in years to come. Organisations everywhere are looking for professionals who not only have excellent skills, but also have a global perspective.
So what are the top reasons for working abroad and what should you consider before making the move? We asked Graeme Read, Group MD at leading global recruitment firm Antal International, for his top 5…
1. Expanding your skill set
Without doubt, time spent abroad is a huge plus point for recruiters and employers viewing your CV. Rather than it slipping to the bottom of a shortlist pile it can help you stand out from the crowd and straight onto the interview list. Having an international perspective not only broadens your horizons, but also offers you a unique understanding of the skill sets required in a global economy. Furthermore, it can demonstrate to future employers that you have the ability to adapt to diverse workplaces.
2. Financial implications
Many people who choose to work abroad do so because the pay can appear to be very lucrative -especially if the cost of living in the country you are moving to is lower than in the UK. And this is especially the case in countries where you are paid tax free – the UAE, for example. However before making any decision ensure you know exactly how your salary will be calculated – will it be based on the current UK rate? It is all too easy to think you will automatically be paid and taxed according to the local rate so it is well worth researching this in detail.
Another factor worth considering is the cost of moving and the financial implications you will face when living in a new country. While there are businesses which will bear the cost of shipping your belongings, for example, this is not always the case so double check these details before you sign on the dotted line. Many expats who move their families to a new location not only have to contend with a new education system, but also the cost of schooling abroad. This is largely because many international schools are private. Double check that your new package includes a tuition allowance, and if it doesn’t then factor this into the overall cost of relocating.
Spending time abroad can hugely increase your cultural awareness, but it is equally as important that you immerse yourself into the local way of life. Understanding the local customs and traditions will not only make your life easier, but will also equip you with a broader understanding of how culture affects businesses throughout the globe. In strict Muslim states, for example, it is not appropriate to shake hands with a woman and it is imperative to dress modestly in public places.
4. Fast track career move
We often see candidates who have used their time overseas as a way to fast track their career and take the next step up. International exposure can certainly accelerate your promotion prospects, and lead to enhanced reward packages. This is because you tend to be faced with a whole host of challenges and opportunities in a shorter space of time than you might with no international exposure under your belt. If you are working abroad and ultimately intend on returning to the UK, it is wise to be cautious of the amount of time you leave before coming back. If your exposure is too prolonged or focused on one country, you may run the risk of being labelled as a ‘country expert’ which could count against you in the long run.
5. Changing your mind
The first few months may be a little daunting as you get to know your new home and the different way of life. However after making such a big move it’s perhaps wise to stick it out for 6 months to a year before you make the decision to up sticks and move back to the UK. If it really isn’t for you, all is not lost. The skills and experiences you gained will put you in a good position to find a role on your return. However it is a good idea to start engaging with employers and recruiters in your final months so you ‘keep your fingers on the pulse’ regarding the UK employment market.