A recently published report from the Home Office reveals that executives and senior managers are leaving the UK at the rate of 1500 every week. And with almost daily news of redundancies, and city job numbers expected to hit a 20 year low next year, it’s not surprising that job hunters are starting to look for better employment prospects abroad.
And while times may be tough here in the UK there are certainly other countries in the world where the job market is still very active. There are huge employment opportunities in the Asia / Pacific region with the economy in mainland China booming and a massive demand for professionals in almost every job category. A BBC survey estimates that there are currently 36,000 British nationals living and working in mainland China. There are also plenty of opportunities for people with the right skills and experience to work in Canada, Australia and New Zealand where there are still a number of government sponsored schemes to attract new immigrants. Equally in the Middle East, despite the unsettled political situation in some countries, there are still great opportunities for employment with reportedly 55,000 British workers employed the United Arab Emirates and a further 26,000 working in Saudi Arabia.
If you have the right language skills then Europe might be a good target and there are now large numbers of British workers in countries like Germany, France and Spain. Even without the right languages there are also several European countries where not being able to speak the local language is not necessarily a barrier to finding a job. For example in The Netherlands and some parts of Scandinavia (where English is very widely spoken) it is still possible to secure jobs without speaking the local language.
Of course for those with family ties or personal preferences working abroad may not be an option but for those who can be flexible the benefits can go well beyond simply finding a job.
While it’s not always the case that overseas jobs pay more, you may still find that you have a higher standard of living in an overseas country where salaries are lower but where the cost of living is lower as well. In some countries in the Middle East salaries are generally significantly higher than in the UK and may be paid free of local tax. It’s also the case that in many developing countries (in particular in the Middle East and Asia Pacific) expatriates will be able to secure not only high salaries but also very attractive benefits including free housing, free schooling, free medical cover and transportation. This can be a great proposition for families with school age children who may benefit from generally excellent international schooling that in some cases is better than the education available in the UK.
International experience may benefit your career
Time spent working overseas may actually enhance your career prospects on your return home.
According to a survey conducted by a major bank in the UK “83% of women who work abroad believe the experience will stand them in good stead for moving up the career ladder” and another survey conducted by Robert Half Global Financial Employment Monitor found that one in five employers cited: “an understanding of international markets” as being one of the most sought after attributes for senior managers and executives.
An article in the Harvard Business Review states that “Corporations seek leaders who are comfortable in many cultures; they want those who can speak multiple languages and understand the nuances of doing business outside their home regions”.
In our increasingly global economy you just can’t ignore the benefits of having some international experience on your CV.
What about the personal benefits?
In addition to the professional benefits of working overseas there are also the personal benefits for you and your family. The chance (perhaps) to have a higher standard of living, the chance to see the world, the chance to experience living in another culture and to learn a new language.
Steve Royston, who runs his own consultancy business in the Middle East, says “Apart from seeing my business flourish over the last few years, my life has also been enriched by my exposure to different cultures. The experience has allowed me to see past the cultural stereotypes and to build a network of friends and business contacts that will serve me well in the future”.
How can I find a job overseas?
If you are currently working for a multi-national company then a very good starting point would be to approach your own HR Department and express your interest in an overseas position. Getting an international transfer with your current employer is going to be the easiest way for you get international experience and you may well benefit from having a job to return to at the end of your overseas appointment.
But you can also use the Internet to search for overseas jobs. You can search for international jobs on the Telegraph jobs pages or try the Monster job site which is one of the largest job boards in the world and advertises a large number of overseas vacancies. Exec Appointments is a particularly good online resource for senior managers and executives and includes pages listing management roles in in the Asia Pacific Region and in the Middle East.
Many of the major UK recruitment agencies also have international offices and you can leverage contacts you may have made with recruiters here in the UK to find recruiters who operate in your chosen overseas territory. Usually those specialist recruiters will also be able to advice you about local working conditions, salaries, skills requirements and qualifications. You will also be able to obtain key information about the requirements for visas or work permits.
Finally before investing time in an overseas job search, do check the procedures for obtaining a work permit and make sure that you are potentially eligible to work in the country (or countries) that you select.