Has a position overseas held some mystical attraction to you? Always wondered what working in a foreign country would be like? Let’s examine a few factors that may help you decide if working outside the US is a good move for you.
We talk a lot about company culture when looking for new job opportunities, however, when thinking about taking a position internationally, it is important to understand the country culture. Company standards, work ethic, and leadership are handled very differently from culture to culture. Be sure to carefully investigate this thoroughly before accepting a position.
Speaking the Language
It is a huge asset if you speak the language of the country you are considering moving to. When applying for positions, you will stand out more than another executive candidate who does not have language skills for that foreign assignment. If being sent overseas by your current employer, they may provide language classes to help you better communicate while in this position.
Costs of Relocation
Relocating to another country is very expensive, no matter what country you are considering. These costs are often negotiated into the offer/hire package or included by a current employer. Read the fine print carefully so that you are clear what is included; not only going over, but returning to the US. Sometimes what is covered for return costs are lower or non-existent based on length of contract or job termination.
Working in another country does have it benefits on a resume, and builds value into your career. This gives you a step up from other candidates without international experience. When returning to the US, sometimes you can command a higher salary based on your global expertise.
A foreign company’s working hours are sometimes dictated by the country culture. And if working for a US company in another country, there may be expectations that you attend virtual meetings with US people which might be 1:00 am your country time. Some Asian countries work 7:00 am to 7:00 pm and weekends. There is one possible advantage to these long hours: some companies provide breakfast, lunch and a light dinner to keep employees on the job. However, rush hour traffic may be at 8:00 pm!
US Corporations vs. Foreign
There are many companies in the US that have foreign departments, branches, or headquarters. You may want to start with your own organization to research what opportunities may be available – perhaps in an overseas office or with a close business partner. It is usually easier to start on the US side to clarify all the conditions of a foreign assignment.
Seeking a position with a foreign company requires more business savvy to make sure you understand all the perimeters involved. Don’t get caught without knowing your value and negotiating power. Many international organizations value American employees, but some may try to take advantage of someone with little experience in the foreign market.
Think before leaping
There are so many factors to consider when moving yourself and family overseas to pursue your career dream of working for an international company. Housing, taxes, cars, schools, conveniences like grocery stores, doctors, hospitals, airports, health clubs, restaurants – the list is almost endless when you look at how you live and work now, and compare it to how that would look living in another country. Certainly, there will be adjustments and compromises. Is it worth it? Only you can answer that question.