Your blueprint guide for working overseas
The market for skilled professionals is truly a global one and candidates with good skills can literally work their way around the world. Yet for every successful move we hear about, there are also plenty of others that end in disappointment and (occasionally) disaster. Most of these could have been avoided with additional research and careful planning. Here is a guide to working overseas that we've developed over many years of international experience.
So before you update your resume, pick up the phone, or do anything else, we recommend you ask yourself the following three questions: why do I want to work overseas, where do I want to go, and what do I want to do when I get there.
There are many reasons why people move overseas, and before you decide to make such a move, it’s worth considering exactly what your motivations are. The most common reasons to move tend to be:
Career – possibly the best reason for a move of this type. You will also find there is a very positive knock on effect when (or if) you decide to return home again. Companies view having worked overseas as a sign of self-confidence and get-up-and-go. From your point of view, an international move should enhance your marketability – and potentially, although there’s no guarantee, your rate or salary when you return.
Money – whilst you can earn a good living overseas, we recommend you define exactly what you want to get out of a move financially - taking into account differing local tax rates and cost of living. Having done that, you then have to check that what you are asking for is reasonable.
Lifestyle - another good reason, with some fantastic places available to visit whilst applying your skills. However, we recommend you define exactly what type of lifestyle you are looking for and select a minimum of two to three locations that offer such a move. It could be that your number one choice is just not available.
A change – it’s all too easy to get caught up in the daily grind, and as they say, ‘a change is as good as a rest’ – so, if your only reason for moving is that you fancy doing something a little different, then a move overseas can be a rejuvenating and exciting experience.
Finally, make a note of your reasons for a move, keep it safe and keep referring to it regularly. Too many times we see, for example, candidates making a move to a tax free location to enable them to build up their savings – only to get distracted by the lifestyle on offer and, subsequently, coming out with nothing.
Stick to your reasons – and the whole experience will have been worthwhile.
Whilst we would all like to work in our dream location, your final destination may actually end up being a compromise between your number one choice and somewhere that supports your skill set.
When you do decide on a destination, check it out – do your research and ensure that it can offer you both the range of opportunities you might need and that it matches the expectations and motivations you have already written down.
Our best advice is to actually visit your preferred location and look at the location - not as a tourist, as most will, but from the perspective of a worker. On your ‘reccie’, arrange to meet Recruitment Consultancies, view properties with Estate Agents and get a firm handle on the true cost of living. That way, no surprises! This is absolutely essential in your search for working overseas.
One obvious consideration is how long you intend to be away from home. To make it worthwhile, most candidates go overseas for a minimum of one year. However, don’t bank on coming home exactly as planned – many candidates end up staying way beyond the initial period of the assignment. I can say this with some authority as my one year move to Dubai is now in its seventh year ….. and second continent!
Also consider the level of position you want to accept. Many people like to believe they’ll get a promotion if they move overseas, but the truth is often rather different. When you move overseas, you have to prove yourself again in a new market. So, it is usual to move across at the same level, with some people even having to take a step back (to then take a step forward). Try to remember why it is that companies recruit internationally in the first place – it is because they cannot find the right people locally. If they could recruit locally, generally they would.
Finally, consider what skills you want to use if you move overseas, and whether any of the opportunities you are looking at offer you the chance to pick up new skills or enhance your existing skill set. We hope that you've found this guide to working overseas a useful and thought provoking read.