Can moving abroad boost your career prospects?
Why are people making the move?
With current UK unemployment rates at 7.7% and a decline in average earnings growth, it is no wonder that so many people are taking the plunge and going abroad in search of work. At a time when jobs are scarce we have to go where the work is, even if this means moving to a new country.
Moving abroad shouldn’t just be considered a last option, for those who are willing to take the leap it can hold a wealth of opportunities. There is of course a lot to think about when making a permanent move and it is not something you should enter into lightly.
It may mean a better cost of living, nice weather and a better job but there are also a few drawbacks, this post is designed to give you the ins and outs of working abroad so that you can make an informed decision.
What do the expats say?
More and more people are now making the move abroad for work. In this article you can see that 48% of Brits said that they would like to move out of the UK. It is not only the job front that is making people want to move, it is also the current social climate of the UK. People are beginning to fear that their children’s futures could look bleak unless they move out of the country.
A survey that questioned over 162,000 people worldwide said that the top three reasons people have for moving abroad for work were:
1. To broaden their experience
2. For more career opportunities
3. To challenge themselves
Another survey conducted by HSBC shows that expats themselves say that they move for better career prospects. Often they will even then move again internationally in order to move up the career ladder further. According to the Telegraph four out of five expats living in the Balearics have said that they have a lower cost of living and as a result a better quality of life for themselves and their families. While it seems to be that work is the original reason for the move, what is keeping them there appears to be the quality of life, with 66% of expats reporting that they are happier in their new countries than they were in the UK.
What can working abroad do for you?
There can also be better job opportunities abroad. Not necessarily better jobs available but potentially a better chance of you getting noticed for them. If you are going to a small area and you are good in your field you are going to stand out. It is easier to get noticed in this kind of environment than it can be in the UK when there are so many people going for the same post, even some that are over qualified.
Gaining work experience in a different country to your own also demonstrates key skills to any future employers whether that be at home or abroad. If you moved for your current job it shows your commitment and dedication to your work. Alternatively if you moved for a new job it shows that you are not afraid to take risks and that you are flexible and adaptable. This also gives the impression that you are a problem solver and if you have done well in the job you went for you’ve demonstrated that you can succeed in a different economy; which in today’s climate is an essential skill to have.
What kinds of jobs are available?
Are you making this move for your career or for the lifestyle? Both are worthwhile but it does change the types of jobs available to you. If you are moving for your career then you obviously know what field you are looking to work in. If you don’t already have a job lined up you will need to do a little research into which countries have opportunities for which professions. There is no point in moving to a country where there is little opportunity for you to work.
If you are more interested in moving abroad for a lifestyle change you could consider teaching. TEFL courses are available for people that wish to live abroad and teach English and offer a wide range of destinations. Certain countries like to recruit people within specific industries that they feel will benefit their country at the time. Try to keep up to date with current affairs and sign up to any quality career blogs that you think will be beneficial to yourself. There are also websites such as this one that shows you job vacancies in Europe and this one that shows jobs and placements internationally. This way you’ll keep abreast of any new vacancies/industry changes relevant to you and that could mean you land yourself a job abroad.
What are the cons?
Of course top of the list has to be leaving people behind. Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones that will get to make the transition with their family for support but for so many workers, they’re going alone. This is tough. A new country, different culture, new job and new people all at the same time is a lot to handle. You need to be sure that you are the type of person that can handle this situation and that you are comfortable in your own company. The best thing to do is really throw yourself into your new work community, not only will this help you get settled in at work but you’ll be making new friends in no time.
While career prospects may be better abroad there is no denying that the international job market has also been affected by the recession. There are not as many jobs abroad as there used to be and don’t allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security. Be prepared for the fact that at first you may well end up in a similar situation to the one you are in now, just in a different country.
Another con is that you may potentially have to do some unpaid work. The truth of the matter is that many people make the move abroad without a job lined up and it is not always easy to get one. If you want to get into a field such as PR, Marketing or Journalism in particular you could definitely be looking at some unpaid work first to build up some credibility. Companies are not likely to just give you a job right off the bat and may want you to do an unpaid placement first to prove your worth. If you have budgeted for it and can afford to do it this can be really worth your while as you can gain some great experience from some very high profile companies this way. If however you haven’t budgeted for it, it can mean working long hours in another job unrelated to your field in order to fund your time spent at the placement. If you can hang in there though this can lead to a job or even if you return home that kind of work experience looks great on your CV.
It is worth keeping in mind that any qualifications you have may not necessarily be recognised in the country that you are going to. If this could potentially be something that will affect the job you’re going for it is best to do some research before you go and look into any additional courses you may be required to complete once in your destination of choice.
It is also worth taking into consideration whether this move is for good or if you will want to come back to the UK at some point? Although your work abroad is great experience and will be a good example of your skills, being out of the UK for a long period of time could mean that you find it difficult to get back into the job market. Don’t be surprised if you come home and do not immediately find work.
In conclusion yes, moving abroad can most definitely help you boost your career prospects. It is by no means a decision to be made lightly and there are a lot of contributing factors but ultimately if you have the means to do so working abroad can help you jump up the career ladder. Whether you are making the move permanently or just going for a gap year or work experience, it will look great on your CV and anything that can help you stand out from the crowd in your industry can ultimately only be a good thing.