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Identifying and Preparing for International Opportunities

As companies become more global, international careers increase. Now is an excellent time for those who want to take advantage of these international opportunities – and the following guidelines will help.
 
IDENTIFYING THE OPPORTUNITIES

First, Know Thyself
Knowing who you are is the first step in understanding your international career choices. The answer to your next best job lies within you. Your vision and dreams, career passion and purpose, values and beliefs, strengths and weaknesses, determine your performance today and in the future.
 
Second, Know What You Want
Know your sweet spot in the market. The sweet spot is the industry, company, role, and location where your job search odds are highest. Prioritize. A lot of executives say, “I am mobile, willing to relocate anywhere.” In the past, this attitude was an advantage. These days, however, it is a problem. For example, for a Spanish-speaking automotive executive in the US with experience in Europe and Asia, the most promising opportunity at the moment is likely to be a general manager position in Mexico.
 
Target Booming Economic Power Spots with Economic Insights
Select countries with short- and long-term favorable economic conditions. Take Mexico, which is becoming an automotive epicenter. Some 40% of all North American automotive jobs are in Mexico, up from 27% in 2000, with Aguascalientes being the hot spot.
 
Cash in on Industry Insights
Fish where the fish are. Investigate economic hot spots. Also, do not only consider existing economic power spots. Search for emerging centers of excellence where you will find a high number of hidden jobs. Examples of other industry epicenters include:

  • UAE – retailing and aviation. Dubai is the world’s third-largest passenger airport and will be number one by 2020 in both passenger and cargo transport.
  • Malaysia – expanding healthcare tourism and biotechnology.
  • India – globalizing pharmaceutical industry.
  • Japan – nascent Japanese jet and aircraft manufacturers.
  • Australia – gas industry.

Talk to industry insiders to locate hot spots and nascent or emerging industries.
 
Be Aware of Economic Bubbles
Triggered by the 2014 Soccer World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, the Brazilian economic outlook was bright, but suddenly went downhill, partly due to political turmoil.
 
Be aware of potential economic bubbles and prioritize industries with high short-term and long-term growth prospects and indigenous technological capabilities.
 
PREPARING FOR INTERNATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

Reassess Your and Your Family’s Commitment
Ask yourself whether you are suitable for and committed enough to an international assignment for a period of five years. Your company expects you to build lasting results over the long term. In the first year you learn and in the last year you prepare to leave. That means you only have three to four years to contribute to your organization. Are you that global citizen, and will your family cope with the challenges of an international lifestyle?
 
Investigate the Company’s Onboarding Program
Does your company have an onboarding program that facilitates the process for you and your family members to get accustomed quickly to the new environment? Onboarding programs increase executive retention, productivity, and the overall satisfaction from expatriation.
 
Find the Right Recruiters
Executives struggle to find the right recruiters for advice or to get exposure to international positions, although recruiter information is readily available online. Who do you talk to if you are an automotive executive in the US interested in China, Japan, or Vietnam? Connecting with the right recruiter or head of practice most relevant to you in the right location matters.
 
If you are interested in global headquarter positions with global responsibilities that include Asian countries, you might contact the Automotive Practice Global Headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, where also the Practice Group Leader resides.
 
Be Found
Be visible. Creating a more international or, better, customized LinkedIn profile or executive biography with relevant success stories is one step. Blogging and positioning yourself as a thought leader is another magnet for attracting opportunities.
 
Display Cultural Dexterity
A trait of successful global executives in a global organization, cultural dexterity means being humble, listening carefully, and being sensitive to different cultures rather than imposing headquarters propaganda or preconceptions on your counterparts. Etihad, Philip Morris, Shell, and Google are companies known to foster such traits.
 
While learning the language of the host country is one of the best preparations you can make, in the long term, it maybe too daunting or too time-consuming for some people. Japanese, Chinese, or Russian languages take at least two years of intensive studies to reach intermediate level. But working with a coach or trainer, executives can develop skills in cultural dexterity and be able to apply them on the go. Just as the adage says, “when in Rome,” show people that you can do, think, and feel as the Romans do. When in India, be keen to learn Bollywood, cricket, and Indian cuisine. When in Japan, show your interest in karaoke, sumo wrestling, and baseball.
 
International opportunities offer exciting career challenges and life experiences for executives who have the right skills and mind-set. This article taps just the surface of many issues you will want to consider as you evaluate whether these opportunities are right for you.

And remember, our team of coaches at BlueSteps Executive Career Services can help you craft an international career management and job search strategy if you are ever in need of assistance.

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About the author

Rainer Morita's picture

Rainer Morita is an International Job Search Coach and Hidden Job Market Expert who helps executives find their perfect job - anywhere. He has assisted more than 5,000 executives in their international career transitions over the last 15 years.

He holds a Master of Science degree in Technology Management from the Manchester School of Management, UK and completed the Programme Internationale de Management (PIM) with Bocconi University, Milan, Italy, in the field of innovation management.

Learn more about the BlueSteps team of career advisors and the services they provide to help you improve your career trajectory here.

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