Making an impact abroad

14 Nov 12:00 by Ally Lee-Boone


Working in another part of the world can really boost your CV, but how do you get started?

Look at the CVs of many C-suite marketers and you’ll find that they didn’t get where they are today by staying in one place. It’s not just that their portfolio encompasses a range of organisations, it is also that they’ve often spent some time working abroad.

The benefits of gaining knowledge in international – and emerging – markets can be wide-ranging. Making connections with a broad range of people can be a real boost to your future career, while coming into a developing market as an outsider could enable you to move into a higher position than at home. Meanwhile, the opportunity to learn a new language – and market successfully to people from a very different culture from your own – should not be underestimated: these are valuable skills to add to your CV.

But how do you set about getting that job? Here are a few things to consider:

Start with your networks

Get advice from people you know and trust who have been there and done it. What challenges did they face? What have they gained from the experience?   Read newspapers from the region online to gain an overview of the market and culture, and use your social networks such as LinkedIn to find introductions. If any of the companies you have worked for have offices elsewhere in the world, is it time to give them a call?

Deep dive with your research

Research doesn’t just mean tracking down interesting jobs in exciting locations, it means finding out about employment law, work permits, language requirements and the local working culture (you might not work Monday to Friday, for example). If you need a visa for your country of choice, it could be denied if there are already enough marketers present; find out if this is likely in advance – Australia, for example, maintains a Skilled Occupations List that you can consult. Think about your work-life balance too: how easy is it to get ‘home’, how high are rents or house prices and what is the general cost of living? 

Presentation is all

Find people who have been through the recruitment process in the region and ask them what to expect. The format of CVs differs around the world – some require personal details and a photo, for example – and you might benefit from providing a local address, if you can. Interviews might include role-playing, psychometric testing or a dinner with colleagues that acts as a chemistry meeting. Knowing what to expect means you can present yourself at your best. Also, don’t make claims about how well you speak a language if you’re likely to get caught out: be honest. Finally, many marketing recruitment agencies have international offices with local expertise. They will be able to help you on your way.

Exploit the internet

Applying for jobs in advance of your move is easier than ever. Once you know how to present yourself, visit job sites that specialise in overseas recruitment, as well as the popular local sites. As with domestic recruitment, it pays to be proactive and contact employers directly – you can find out what opportunities they have and explain what you have to offer.

Enjoy the differences

There’s a stereotype of the new starter who spends the first few weeks telling colleagues ‘at my old company we did it such and such a way’. It can be infuriating, however well meant it is, and will only be amplified by a move between global regions. It’s time to apply yourself to the new culture, the new ways– so open up and enjoy them.

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