by Lisa Marsh
Mar 13 2015
Moving abroad for your next executive opportunity can bring a range of career benefits to those who are willing. It can lead to an immediate increase in salary; it is not uncommon for executive hotshots in São Paolo to receive $600,000 per annum.
And, a move abroad can also lead to future financial gains too. An employee’s chances of promotion are greatly improved when they have worked abroad due to perceived personal benefits, such as global market understanding, specific product knowledge, improved work ethic, technical expertise, willingness to be flexible and proven ability to adapt to new and challenging environments.
With such benefits on offer, choosing to accept an international position can seem like the obvious choice, however, there are several key factors to consider before making a commitment.
Doing your due diligence: It is advisable to do in-depth background checks on the company, including ensuring that the company is financially sound, and, if possible, arranging an informal yet confidential meeting with a former executive of the company who may be able to provide insights into the company culture and environment.
Immigration status: It is often the case that your VISA is permitted on the basis of your employment with your new sponsor company, and so it is vital to consider the implications in the event of your sudden contact termination. Be sure to know the answers to hypothetical questions such as “How long are you allowed to remain in the country if your position is terminated?” and “Is there any arrangement that you can make that your employer would assist you in remaining in the foreign country until you have found alterative work or made arrangements to return home?”
Understanding your role and agreement: Make sure that you have a confirmed description of your position, your duties, and the person who you are expected to report to. Having these facts confirmed will reduce the likelihood of them being changed during the course of your employment. It is important to clarify whether your contract will be a fixed-term contract, or a contract of indefinite duration. The best way to make sure that none of the terms of your employment change during your time with your new company is to establish an email paper trail, whereby you have asked and received email confirmation on issues such as salary, title, and conditions, which can then be saved for future reference.
Making sure it is a financially worthwhile venture: There are several financial elements to consider before taking an opportunity abroad, including health insurance, tax planning, pensions, and offshore investments. The majority of the best international companies will offer their new employees some degree of financial advice and assistance before they move abroad, but if your company does not, you might want to consider working with an independent financial advisor to make sure that you are well prepared for all eventualities.
Effects on family: Before taking an overseas position, it is wise to research the consequences that your family could face. These can vary from country to country. For example, in Qatar, only couples who are married are permitted to live together, and even for married couples there are restrictions, such as the requirement that in order for your spouse to join you in your move, they must be able to make a minimum of £1775 per month. Such requirements can seriously impede your lifestyle choices which could impact your decision.
Another family consideration is regarding flights home. While in the negotiation process, you should consider negotiating if your new company can pay for your flights to your home country and offer adequate compassionate leave.
Organising accommodation: If you haven’t already looked into it, be sure to research the rental and property market in your chosen country. For those yet to establish how long they might be required to work in the country, it is advisable to avoid signing long-term leases.
You could also look into the possibility of negotiating with your company to ensure that they are responsible for providing suitable accommodation. This would mean that in the event that your employment is terminated, you would not be responsible for maintaining payments to a landlord for their lost rental income. You may additionally be able to negotiate temporary accommodation in the host company while searching for your permanent base, or even temporary accommodation prior to departure.
If you are not selling your home and plan to retain it with the intention of eventually returning, leaving it vacant can be a good option, but you should make arrangements for it to be maintained in your absence.
However, this option is not financially viable for all. Even for those intending to sell, many wait for the end of their probation period to be over before doing so, to cover worse case scenarios. You might also be able to gain the company’s approval to pay for your relocation expenses, both going to the new country and on return home should your contract be terminated for any reason. The relocation costs could include paying for the cost of personal items or excess luggage to enable your stay.
Personal security: With each country comes its own set of new security issues which travellers and expats alike should be made aware of. You can find lists of these on most Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade websites. In addition to knowing the possible danger, one most also be prepared for them too. Taking out adequate insurance is essential to avoid running up extortionate debts later down the line, as hospital stays can be dangerously expensive for the uninsured. Make sure all risks to your life, health, and property are covered. With your health and your family’s health in particular, it is recommended to make sure any medical issues are resolved prior to your departure. If your spouse or children later rely on traveling back to your country of origin for ongoing treatment, it would be costly financially and personally to be trapped in a contract overseas.
For those still considering opportunities abroad, please see below our Top 5 Tips for your search:
1. Network: Purposefully and carefully build your network in your target country, stay in touch, and ask for advice. You can also arrange informal video chats with previous and current employees to get to know the organization. This will also keep you in the loop so that you can be recommended should opportunities arise.
2. Executive search consultants: Find consultants in your target industry and country who can assist you with you search. Like always with executive search, these relationships should be built before you begin actively seeking new opportunities.
3. Research: As mentioned early, due diligence is important. Make sure you research the activities of your target companies, especially in the locations you are planning to move to.
4. Branding yourself: Having an up-to-date LinkedIn profile is key to finding your next opportunity, especially when searching for that opportunity abroad. Many employers recruit directly via LinkedIn and industry groups can be a great space for expanding your network.
If you would like to learn more about becoming an executive expat, register today for our upcoming complimentary webinar 5 Things to Consider Before Taking an Expat Position.