In a world where international business continues to grow at a rapid pace, working abroad is becoming a more common opportunity. For both professionals whose careers are still in the early stages and those who are at midpoint or beyond, working internationally can be beneficial. Studies show professionals who work overseas tend to advance more quickly than those who remain in the U.S.
Of course, preparing yourself to work outside the U.S. requires more than a current passport and updated vaccinations. Different cultures and regions may have different expectations. So, it’s important to thoroughly research such things as work hours and work weeks to make sure a move would be a good fit for you.
You should also consider what kind of customs and business culture is prevalent in other countries. Some countries, such as Germany, expect and encourage assertiveness from their leaders; in others, like Mexico, it is more common to develop a personal relationship before conducting business. Knowing that your work or management style fits the culture is vital to laying the groundwork for a successful overseas career.
While working in another country can sound exciting and exotic, it can also be isolating. That’s why it’s important to understand your own personal needs, such as whether you are able to spend time alone or adapt to a completely new social setting. Experts say someone who is outgoing and extroverted is more likely to thrive in a different culture than someone who is introverted and may have trouble striking up relationships with others.
It’s also important for you to be able to get along well with many different personality types and to “roll with the punches.” Since you will likely encounter many unexpected situations both living and working in a different country, it’s important for you to be able to adapt well to change. Evaluate your strengths, likes and dislikes carefully and honestly, and study the area where you’re interested in working to make certain it is a good fit both personally and professionally.
You will also want to think about how a move would affect the important relationships in your life. Although it’s easier than ever to communicate with loved ones regardless of where they are, living abroad changes the nature of the relationship. How well will you do living far away? If you have a family, how will a move affect them? Regardless of whether they are moving with you or will stay in the U.S., a move would affect everyone and needs to be carefully studied, thought out and discussed.
It’s fairly easy to look at the advantages of working overseas, but make sure you take time to look at the disadvantages, too, to see if they offset your desire to make a move. It’s better to continue working in the U.S. if you don’t feel you’re prepared for a move overseas or if you have concerns about some of the cultural practices.
Preparation is key to succeeding overseas. Without proper planning and a thorough evaluation of the situation, the move could prove disastrous. Improve your odds of success by learning as much as you can about the country, the position, and the expectations that go with it. Then make an educated decision that’s best for you.