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How many of you have worked abroad, or have considered working abroad?
You probably know that I have spent a considerable part of my career working and living in other countries, Bermuda, Sicily, USA, Canada, Spain and now France. In fact, to date, I have spent 18 years of my career in countries other than the UK, which is more than half of my total working life! It is a fantastic experience and definitely to be encouraged!
The advantages? Cultural, financial, personal satisfaction and vastly enhanced career opportunities
The benefits are numerous: visiting a new country, discovering a new culture, often learning a new language, meeting some truly wonderful people, making lifelong friends and normally giving your career a real boost as well! Not only that you become more open-minded, you learn other ways of living, other ways of working and you get to understand and appreciate different mentalities, values and beliefs.
Even if you aren’t motivated by material gain, it doesn’t hurt to know; typically you earn a better salary abroad and then get a better job and salary on your return because of your experience and knowledge and first-hand experience of an international market!
The disadvantages? Well, I, personally, can’t think of any!
Travel is so easy these days that you don’t even miss your family, in fact, your family and friends usually look on it as the perfect opportunity to visit you for frequent long-stay holidays. My sister-in-law arrived in Spain three weeks after we moved (her excuse was helping to get the house straight…) and she came at least 4 or 5 times every year for all the time we lived there… as did numerous friends. For the children the benefits are even greater, they become bilingual very quickly, my children from not knowing a single word of Spanish when we left England, took only 3 months to be at the same level in school as the Spanish students in their class, and they were being invited to play, to parties etc. from the very first week…. Another undeniable advantage for children is their later job prospects – my son was hired 2 days after graduating, not just because of his degree in economics but because of his bilingualism. My daughter, also, rapidly started with an international company where her languages – as well as her natural charm and professionalism, obviously – were a considerable asset in being chosen for the position.
What is the best way to find work abroad?
It is always easier to start with your network of contacts.
- If your current company is part of an international group, see if you can have a transfer to another overseas department.
- Speak to your clients/colleagues/contacts abroad. Ask them if they know of any jobs, or can recommend companies, recruitment agencies.
- Look on LinkedIn, look at the contacts of your contacts – are any of them abroad? In the country you are interested in? In the industry or sector you would like?
- Again on LinkedIn, find the business groups for the country you are interested in going to, join them and reach out, ask questions, get your co-members feedback.
- Still on LinkedIn, look at the jobs/employment agencies/headhunters in the relevant countries.
What is the best way to settle in?
- Read my article Working successfully in an International Market – This has a lot of the information you need about the professional side of settling in.
- On the personal side, prepare in advance – visit the country for holidays before you go. It will let you get an idea of the differences and even the basic knowledge of different way of life, furniture to take, types of houses etc
- Get as much info as possible from your Embassy for that country – they are normally very helpful.
- When you are there, join a fitness club asap (or tennis, golf… etc) or something cultural but where there is a lot of interaction and activity. This will help you meet people quickly and you won’t be forced to remain within the ‘company’ social circle. You need a real life and not to be a permanent performing seal in front of your, or your spouse’s, colleagues.
- If you have children, put them in the local school. Become an active and sociable dropper off and picker up of your children when possible, at least for the first 2 or 3 months. Invite other children to play from the very first week! Several times per week, invite their parents in for a drink when they come to collect them… organise picnics etc… This immediately gets you into the local circle which is helpful for several reasons:
- It helps your kids make friends
- It helps you make friends
- It creates a positive relationship with the local community
- It gives you a group of people you can ask for advice and explanations if you ever need to know anything about how it happens in your new country. Local people are just that, local! This means, they always know the right person when you need anything done…
So, working abroad – have I convinced you? Are you raring to go?
For me, working and living abroad has been an unbelievable, rich and fulfilling opportunity. If I had known about the book ‘The Big 5 for Life’ before I went, it would definitely have been the top one of the 5! Working abroad has definitely been a very positive and productive experience! .
In case you are tempted, here are some recruitment agencies that you might like to have a look at, all multilingual. Reed (www.reed.co.uk) is the main agency and job ads website in UK but it isn’t specialist in multilingual, but well worth trying as they do still have many bi- or tri-lingual jobs.
Good luck and make sure you send me a postcard from whichever exotic destination you choose! You will find it an incredibly fulfilling experience…
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
~ Mark Twain
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