Working overseas can be an exciting prospect. Take the time to do your research, talk to your employer and fully understand the implications of the move and you’ll undoubtedly make a better decision about what is right for you personally, and for your career...
You might be looking at an offshore opportunity with your current employer or you could have found a job on your own. Either way, before you start packing make sure you you’ve covered off the following bases:
1. Do you really want to live in that country?
Work is one thing, but it’s also important to be reasonably happy with your life outside the office. If you hate the environment the risk is that it will spill over and undermine job performance – the very reason you are there in the first place. Research the destination, and if you can’t find anything that excites you, think again.
2. What will it mean for your spouse/partner/family?
This is often the make-or-break factor in both making the decision to go, and how well the move pans out long term. Over 1/3 of overseas assignment failure is due to factors on the home front. It’s crucial to get an accurate idea of what life will be like, including whether your spouse will be permitted to work or not. Ideally, bring family along on preview trips and check out schools and housing fully.
3. How does it stack up financially?
With the screws tightening on lucrative expat packages, it’s important to ensure that the remuneration you are offered will give you enough to live on AND enjoy the overseas experience. Check out local cost of living information online and/or ask your HR contacts if they have access to international data through organisations like Mercer https://www.imercer.com/content/cost-of-living.aspx
4. Are you across your tax obligations?
Ask your employer if they are prepared to tax equalise. If not, get expert advice from an international tax advisor. The cost of setting up your affairs correctly from the beginning is small relative to the risks of getting it wrong.
5. Is it a good career move?
Resist being blinded by the prospect of an overseas assignment and assuming that it will necessarily enhance your CV. Question your employer closely about the job. Did previous incumbents go on to promotions or better jobs? What challenges and opportunities are anticipated for the role in the next 12 months? How much exposure will there be to key decision makers – in-country and/or back at head office?
6. Who pays for what?
Starting a new job in a new country will entail costs you may not have fully considered – for example, shipping (if you want to bring any personal effects beyond a few suitcases), the visa you’ll need to be able to work, essential vaccinations, full-price airfares (unlikely you’ll be able to utilise off-peak cheapies if you have start work on a particular date) and short term accommodation and rental car costs while you get established.
Doing this homework will prepare you for what’s ahead. It will also demonstrate to your employer that you are committed to making a success of the opportunity to work overseas.
Bridget is Principal at Mobile Relocation Experts. Working in partnership with HR and executive teams, Mobile helps bring expat staff to fill key roles in companies and organisations throughout New Zealand. Mobile adds the' human touch' to global mobility, resettling people into new homes and new lives.
Bridget can be reached at www.mobile-relocation.com