Never underestimate the potential “pulling power” of a foreign work location on your CV – potential employers love them, as a survey conducted by recruiters Robert Half shows. If 49% of questionnaire participants are lamenting the fact that they’ve seen a large number of talented employees leave for greener, more lucrative pastures abroad, then going abroad for career advancement should also be on your bucket list of things to do before boredom in your present job dulls your senses!
So what are the advantages of working abroad?
1. Improving Communication and Social Skills
Multinational employers like to see CVs from employees who can communicate in more than one language and who will not be afraid to deal with people from other cultural backgrounds. If you’re hoping to work for large international companies to further your career, you should remember their clients and your fellow employees won’t be from the same country as you and English probably won’t be their first language. Working abroad broadens people’s horizon in every respect, including enhancing their tolerance, communication and social skills.
Once you have worked abroad you will understand how localisation of marketing a product works. Each country has their own little peculiarities and knowing how to tap into them – and how to avoid cultural pitfalls when trying to market a product – is essential to your own and your employer’s success.
3. Taking every Training Opportunity
Being offered a job abroad usually comes with free language training and various other training opportunities that will help you further your career when you apply for jobs elsewhere. Having learned about different management styles, ways of doing R&D or alternative ways of controlling stock for example abroad, may prompt you to make improvements when you get to your new work placement that will save your new employer lots of money. Watch out for promotion in the wake of that!
4. Learning to be resourceful
Instead of working in a pampered office environment in London, Paris or Frankfurt, where the job comes with a company car and all the modern creature comforts technology can provide, you may be asked to hire a rickety old jeep and trundle at 30 miles per hour on potholed roads to a mud-hut village where you must negotiate with King Client and his village elders for your next engineering contract. The contract is worth millions. On the way, the jeep breaks down and you’re still miles from your destination. The King hates tardiness. What do you do? Do you flag down the next elephant and guide that come along? Do you give up and make another appointment with King Client? Ah, bother, mobiles don’t work out in the wilderness! Now what?
While such an extreme scenario is unlikely to arise in your first job abroad, your ingenuity will nonetheless be stretched to the limit when working in countries where the power supply may be inconsistent, phones don’t always work and work ethic is very, very different to the one you’re used to.
5. Becoming a global Networker
Working abroad allows you also to build up an incredibly valuable global network, an essential career-building step. As your contemporaries move up the food chain in multinationals, you can benefit from their career advancement and help them out, too. Multinationals don’t just hire anybody who happens to send in their resume. Career avenues usually closed to “outsiders” will open up to somebody that a current employee can vouch for and has already worked with in a previous job. The relationships you form with other people working abroad can assist you with an amazing, and truly global career.
6. Voluntary Internships are Stepping Stones
The skills you learn while helping with turtle conservation in Costa Rica or flood defences in Bangladesh may at first glance be simply gap-year adventures, but hold on: you’re learning valuable lessons about leadership while directing your volunteers to turtle egg-laying sites! You’re acquiring amazing negotiation skills, while talking to locals about new ways to keep their village safe. Never underestimate the impressiveness of a voluntary internship abroad with charities! Employers love seeing such internships on resumes. They demonstrate that you have what it takes to succeed in the role they’re offering and have the potential to go beyond it.
7. Working Life is Long – and short of Adventure!
Once you have embarked on a career path, taking out a sabbatical for a year’s travelling is not always an option. Enjoy your internship for the adventure it brings, the sights you’ll see and the wonderful stories you’ll hear when you meet fellow travellers and get to know locals. It will turn you into a far more balanced, confident and happy individual; just the sort employers like to hire for important jobs.