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Do you have international experience? Global survey results

Posted on from HR Professionals

International experience is increasingly a prerequisite for senior professionals, according to recruitment specialist Hydrogen’s third annual ‘Global Professionals on the Move’ report. Alexandra Bigland explains.

How important is international experience?

72% of our respondents thought their employers viewed international experience as important or very important, up 9% from last year (63%). 59% of clients surveyed also said they recognise its worth.

The research, conducted by ESCP Europe, also found that 94% of respondents are considering relocating or already have done so, as they recognise international experience as a key factor in career success.

Gain fresh perspectives overseas

Our report highlights what a positive personal experience moving abroad can be. 90% of respondents would go abroad again and would recommend the experience to others, and one in three now consider the country where they live to be home, with only 18% of those already abroad wanting to repatriate in the near future.

Raymond Madden, visiting professor at ESCP Europe and the academic in charge of the survey, comments: “We’re not seeing people going abroad to do a quick two-year assignment.  More and more people are spending their entire careers working overseas, doing stints of several years at a time in one country before moving to a new region where they gain fresh perspectives and experiences. Very often they are hesitant at the start but become hooked on the lifestyle and keep doing it much longer than intended.”

People forced to look further afield

This year’s survey shows that international migration of professionals is spread more widely than ever before. While the three most popular places for respondents to live and work remain the US, the UK and Australia, their dominance is beginning to wane: the US fell from 18% last year to 12% this year, Australia fell from 11% to 9% and the UK from 10% to 9%.

Dan Church, client services director at Hydrogen, says: “The most significant impact of the global financial crisis of 2008 has been that migration is spread more widely than ever before. People now need to go where the revenue is.

“Five years ago this might have been New York, London and Hong Kong; now it is also Shanghai, Houston, Vietnam and so on.”

Still tough to find work

There are still challenges to be faced. Although not as high as last year (44%), 31% of those already abroad said the biggest barrier to moving was finding a job.

This could be a sign of a global recovery in the economy but it also supports another key theme to emerge; the importance of using recruitment specialists to help people in their search for a new role. 37% of respondents working abroad said that they found their role through recruiters. Tim Smeaton, CEO of Hydrogen Group comments: “Candidates recognise that recruitment specialists provide them with access to the global organisations of their choice.”

Lack of female presence

A review of the demographic data highlights the increasing dominance of the over 30s in overseas assignments, showing that a stint overseas in no longer just the preserve of the young. However, this trend is not so true of professional women working overseas, who appear to be still gaining their overseas experience much earlier than men. In fact, the report shows that of the women who were working abroad when they responded to the survey, only 15% were over 40, compared to nearly 50% of the men, and men working overseas outweighed women by three to one.

With overseas experience being so important to career success, the fact that fewer women are gaining international experience may be a contributing factor to the lack of women in today’s boardrooms.

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