What separates a domestic job search from an international one? Basically it’s understanding what employers are looking for when they hire for jobs overseas. Executives considering an international position needs to think about their long-term career goals and determine if an international assignment would help them achieve those goals.
Whether looking for a temporary overseas assignment with your current company or looking outside the U.S. to a foreign company for a more permanent position, consider these factors before accepting an offer:
1. Language skills – While English is the globally accepted business language, it can be a disadvantage working in a country where you are unfamiliar with the local language. When choosing candidates for overseas positions, the executives with some knowledge or fluency in the country’s language have a distinct advantage over those who don’t. Some companies do provide language classes to familiarize their employees with the country’s language.
2. Recognized credentials – Degrees and credentials recognized in the states may have little or no weight abroad. Be aware of which countries accept your credentials before you start seriously searching for opportunities. As can happen in any job search in some cases, conveying your qualifications and value can sometimes position you as a good candidate despite not having the proper credentials.
3. Work permits – Executives seeking an international job may think they don’t need to be concerned with securing a work visa or permit to work abroad. Many assume that the employer will pay the fees and complete the paperwork to obtain these government authorizations. That can be true, but make sure the potential employer is taking care of it, getting this step clearly written into any offer you are presented.
4. Cultural barriers – It is critical to research the cultural differences of the particular country or countries that an executive considers for potential opportunities. Each country has its own etiquette and way of doing business, even through there may be similarities with the U.S. These cultural differences can affect a large part of the job search, i.e., interviewing processes, salary negotiations, traditions, learning curve re: country regulations, etc.
5. Family impact – Moving to a different country affects the whole family. You’ve probably heard the saying, “A happy wife makes a happy life.” No matter which spouse is involved in the decision-making, its imperative that he or she is onboard with this major decision. It is reported that one of the highest reasons for failure is an unhappy partner.
Taking on the challenge of an international position does not guarantee career success. And don’t assume that your company will have a job waiting for you back in the states. Make sure you have worked out all the details with your company to capitalize on your international value and executive expertise.
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