The truth about working overseas

Written by
Changeboard Team

24 Mar 2014

24 Mar 2014 • by Changeboard Team

The big picture

There is no doubt that building a career in a global market can be hugely gratifying in terms of experience, contacts and financial reward. But how will you find your perfect placement? And how will you tackle a move overseas?

We recently hosted a think tank in conjunction with leading accountancy firm BDO LLP to discuss the intricacies of working in African markets. The general consensus of the panel – made up of legal professionals with varied experiences of working on the continent – was that the opportunities that exist in emerging markets are vast, but we should not underestimate the challenges that moving into unfamiliar territories can bring.

So whether you are looking for opportunities in Africa, Europe or the Middle East for example, it is worth noting that the legalities of working abroad can be complex. And depending on what sector you work in, certain countries may not offer the prospects that you dream of. Some pioneering opportunists may make a beeline for companies that are recruiting in their chosen destination – but regional organisations and agencies may not have the experience or resources to handle the necessary visa requirements. As such, these businesses are more likely to hire locally. Professionals looking to work overseas stand the best chance of success by seeking out opportunities specifically targeted towards expat workers.

Expert advice

Aside from the administrative issues that working overseas throws up, the emotional and social implications of uprooting should also be considered. Individuals deal with change in different ways, and candidates should think about how they will contend with languages, climate and local values. Some people thrive in unfamiliar places; they enjoy the excitement of meeting new people, the challenge of learning new ways of working and the thrill of the unknown. Others are less adaptable. They miss their friends and family, pine for their favourite foods and feel uncomfortable with an alien professional environment. It’s important that you ask yourself if working overseas is really right for you.   

What can you expect?

If you are confident that working abroad is the next stepping stone on your career path (and you manage to secure a role), a reputable employer will usually arrange your visas, accommodation and transport.

Be aware that roles specifically designed for ex-pats sometimes involve living in single or married quarters in a compound environment. Typically staff are very well looked after and the arrangement may include use of a car and driver.

English is recognised as the language of business throughout the world but there is no doubt that a second dialect is a distinct advantage in this competitive jobs market. Learning a local language and understanding the corporate culture of the region is invaluable, particularly with regards to client contact. Those who are able to slot into local life with ease will gain the most from their time in another country.

Is working overseas right for you?

Experienced professionals who are looking for fresh challenges should carefully consider if working overseas is right for them. But inquisitive individuals with the drive and resilience to make the jump successfully will reap the rewards.

We have found that those candidates we place overseas are embarking on a life-changing adventure. Moving into another country, specifically an emerging market, can offer individuals a greater variety of work, fresh experiences, new perspectives, and greater opportunities for career progression. Not to mention, a different pace of life, favourable tax rates and sunshine in some cases. Those that are looking to move back to the UK in the future will return with a greatly enhanced CV, and a distinct advantage over their competitors. So if you dream of emigrating, what’s stopping you?