Top professionals want career abroad sea of change

Written by
Changeboard Team

24 May 2011

24 May 2011 • by Changeboard Team

Global competition

Globalisation is one of the great buzzwords of our time, with the world fast becoming one global market and many businesses competing well beyond their borders to maintain their edge. In such an environment, candidates with international experience will stand out from their peers in the eyes of prospective employers.

High-level professionals – the 'high fliers' with their sights firmly focused on the top of the corporate ladder – are naturally focused on fast-tracking their careers, and personal development is equally important. New research commissioned by Hydrogen Group highlights how, for this demographic, working abroad is a key means of achieving both those goals.

Mindset and motivation

Our 2010 Hydrogen Global Professionals on the Move Report offers groundbreaking insight into the mindset and motivation of elite professionals, in particular to working abroad, and it provides sector-specific analysis for the disciplines of finance, technology, engineering, legal and HR. The report is based on a major survey, conducted by a consultancy project team from ESCP Europe business school, of 3,155 professionals from over 70 countries. On average, survey respondents earned an annual salary of $125,000 and virtually all held a professional qualification or above, with over half attaining a postgraduate degree such as an MBA or PhD; 94% of respondents were either already working abroad or interested in doing so.

It’s clear from the research that for high fliers already on high salaries, a post overseas must have the right fit with their overall career and life plan to be worth the move. This is the message coming through in a number of the report’s findings. For example, greater earning potential is not in itself a top priority for professionals when looking to work abroad. Neither is permanent relocation, with 64% of respondents stating they were willing to work in another country for up to five years. Meanwhile, 60% of respondents stated that the economic downturn had no impact at all on their willingness to move overseas.

(Associate professor Claudia Jonczyk discusses implications of latest research involving ESCP Europe that looks at international mobility among professionals. See video below).

The right jobs - global career development

So for this demographic, working abroad is not a means of escaping recession; it’s not about going where the jobs are, but where the right jobs are, and that's very much the mindset we're seeing in professionals we’re placing in new roles in companies around the world. Their mindset is decidedly international; they view working abroad as good for their careers, and they are therefore casting their nets ever more widely in search of the jobs that are right for them professionally and personally.

As for where they want to work, the US, UK and Australia are consistently the top countries preferred by this demographic, though in most cases the popularity of certain countries does not correlate with where recruitment demand is greatest. That means that for industries like engineering and technology that are connected to oil and gas, power and infrastructure, recruitment is most buoyant in countries in the middle or far east such as Dubai and Singapore.

The HR sector

However, HR is the one sector where the most favoured country – in this case, Australia – does match up with job opportunities on the ground. While the focus for HR in Australia in 2009 was, as in many countries, on retrenchment and cost cutting, the Australian economy is now showing signs of recovery, with HR specialists in strategy and change in demand. At the same time, reflecting the trend for other sectors featured in the research, there is also demand for HR professionals in countries in the Middle East and Asia.

International experience - high flier approach

When it comes to securing a post abroad, the research shows that recruitment success requires a proactive approach. The survey asked those already working abroad about how they secured their position overseas and found the use of a recruitment consultancy the most popular and successful at 28 percent, followed by being headhunted at 16 percent. In contrast, respondents not yet abroad but who were interested in going were most likely to have done only basic internet research about moving overseas, with only 15 percent actually having spoken to a recruitment consultancy.

The 2010 Hydrogen Global Professionals on the Move Report offers insight into the growing importance of international experience – both for high fliers wanting to take their careers to the next level and for companies wanting to attract high-calibre professionals in a competitive war for talent. For professionals serious about moving abroad, it’s clear the opportunities to develop their careers with a move overseas are there to be had – and, as the research highlights, they are best served by recruitment consultancies that can provide specialist advice and knowledge of markets around the world.