The Pros and Cons of Working Overseas

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Ours is a global job-site that offers opportunities to work all over the world. And while the idea of working in some exotic location may sound like a dream come true, getting a job overseas requires much more thought and professional experience than one might imagine because the reality is a bit more complex.

Most countries have very specific rules for non-citizens regarding work visas and the like, so make sure to do your homework before you start the job search. Some countries make it relatively easy for foreigners to work there, while other places are not so welcoming.

The easiest placements are those negotiated by your current employer. So, if you do have an opportunity to relocate with your present company, and you were already thinking about working in a different country, it could be the perfect way to segue into a new and welcoming spot abroad.

Consider the Possibilities

Beyond the logistics, there are other obvious and less obvious things to consider before you pack your bags. Whether it’s stateside or abroad, it’s a buyer’s market, says Gustavo Dolfino, CEO of the WhiteRock Group, an executive recruiting firm. If you have the right professional experience and the language skills to boot, such as fluency in Spanish or Chinese, then you are a much more attractive candidate. But newbies need not apply. Generally speaking, banks and investment firms are looking for professionals with at least three to four and many more years of experience under their belt.

Picking the “right” overseas finance role can certainly help to boost a resume, especially if you’re looking to become an expert in emerging markets, for instance. But don’t assume that working overseas is all you need to advance stateside. So, do the due diligence before you hop on a plane. Make sure the job you’re interviewing for is one that lines up with your professional goals and the skills in demand, Dolfino advises. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of living.

But whether it’s a job in the U.S. or overseas, the most experienced person is always going to win out. If that’s the case, make sure the move is the right one for you. “If you’re working at a bank in Colombia, that’s certainly a much different experience than working in London,” says Dolfino. Make sure you’re okay with making a mark in an emerging market or learning more in a major financial center.

The Good & the Bad

A big part of the allure of an overseas assignment is the chance to see the sights. But don’t let the wonderful cultural attractions come before the job responsibilities. A big consideration is just how you will fare in a place without established connections. It requires an independent spirit. Tarun Chopra, CFO of Clements Worldwide, an international insurance solutions firm, says that any time you move on to an expat assignment, you’ll automatically “hit the reset button” when it comes to relationships, networks, and comfort level. He says, “You’re moving to a new environment, and you may not know all of the rules. There are likely very different business practices and possibly different value systems.”

If you’re new position is in Shanghai or even Berlin, there are sure to be big cultural differences in your new hometown. Acknowledge the differences and make sure you are comfortable with learning to fit into a new environment, says Chopra. But don’t forget that those changes apply to the office, as well. “I’ve worked on five different continents, and I’ve learned that depending on where you are, the same words can mean very different things,” he adds.