International Business & Expat Assignments!
Many business professionals dream of working on glamorous, expat international assignments. However, many do not have a plan, just the passion or desire.
Learn how to qualify for global jobs from a career coach, who is also a global consultant. I specialize in global careers can help you create a “global career action plan.”
I've lived, worked and studied in multiple countries. English is my third language and I was not born in North America. I can attest that there is always an initial adjustment to a new country, even if you speak the language fluently. However, with the right preparation and support it can be very rewarding. Let me share some of my experiences as a global consultant and as a business career advisor for global professionals.
1. I've worked with countless of international, business professionals over the past 15 years. An important element of expat assignments which many candidates overlook is 'fit.'
Do you know your preferred “cultural style of conducting business?” Choosing a country as a global destination should be a well researched and well reasoned choice – not every country will be a match for you. I highly recommend meeting with an experienced career coach who can assess this in an interview format or with formal career testing. Learn how to find expat opportunities which are best suited to your work style and match it to your choice of country assignments. Otherwise, you will be swimming upstream and everything will be a struggle.See my post on “Random Expat Country Selection.”
Often, problems with expat assignments are not about an executives' experience or intelligence. Instead, most difficulties are due to intangible, cross-cultural misunderstandings. Thus, the choice of an expat assignment should not be taken lightly. It should be closely researched and matched with the SKE’s (skills, knowledge and experience) of a particular candidate.
2. What about pay structure for expats?
Remember, that a global employer will typically have to pay 3 times as much to import a worker as to hire a local worker. In many socialized countries, the employer will need to formally post the position through local channels and gather evidence that there aren’t any locals to fill the position. Only then, can they qualify to apply for an international worker. COLA is an acronym which stands for cost of living analysis. There are sites online where you can plug in your current city/county location and your new city to compare the cost of living variables. This includes items such as rent, transportation and even the cost of milk! This will give you a better idea of what your potential salary is worth in the new country.
3. How can I compete with the locals to secure an expat assignment?
You will need to have some very, unique skills or some fabulous business contacts to even pass this first hurdle. I came to the USA as an international, graduate student and soon realized that it was more expensive to hire me. Therefore I needed something unique to compete with the locals since it wasn't an even playing field.
The employers biggest fear is that you'll 'flame out.' They are very concerned that an Expat or imported worker will not be able to withstand the rigors of a foreign assignment, business and culture.
4. Will employers take a risk on me?
The best predictor of future experience, is past experience. In these risk-averse times, employers will prefer candidates with global experience and an international, track record. At my previous university role, I helped MBA's attain international internships. The internships were an excellent 'foot in the door' technique to gain experience and credibility overseas. Successful global experience is the best predictor of good adaptation and quick adjustment to new global assignments. Are you a good risk? How can you begin to build your global portfolio?
5. Other tips
Once you are on the job, consider the cultural implications and cultural mores of doing business on a global scale. Learn how to navigate a new country, culture and business environment in an inter-culturally-sensitive way. This is an essential global, career skill. What we, as North Americans assume are standard business norms, are in fact culture-bound constructs. See my post on “Stages of Identity Development.
Working abroad will not be business as usual. It will instead contain an exciting, often bewildering and steep learning curve. Added to the complexity is any given individuals degree of acculturation. Some global professionals may in fact be bi-cultural, speak several languages and have more fluid business styles.
More related readings
Take your MBA Global: Tips for International Executives.
Impact Of The Economic Stimulus Package On International Job Seekers And H1B Applicants
American Brain Drain = Global Gain: International MBA Students In The USA
The American Job Search and Cultural Roadblocks: Don’t Get Derailed!
Author: © 2014 - present All Rights Reserved - Sharon B. Cohen, MA, Counseling Psychology, CPRP licensed, NCDA. Career Counselor and Career Transition Specialist.
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