With a growing number of executives seeking to diversify their skill set through expatriate assignments, headhunters and employers are becoming increasingly selective about whom they will consider for international roles.
One of the biggest challenges for executive search firms is finding candidates with the right values and cultural fit. In this environment, potential employers want upfront evidence of strong interpersonal skills. Proving that you can relate well to coworkers, customers, and your peers across diverse settings is a good harbinger, indicating that you will have the versatility to adapt in a new multicultural environment.
Demonstrate that you can think outside the box, as you will be in many situations where your framework of reference is challenged. When speaking with international executive recruiters or potential employers, talk about times when your flexibility or adaptability helped you overcome difficult circumstances. Mention instances in which your ability to inspire trust enabled you to turnaround a tenuous situation. And, of course, emphasize any international experience or multilingual skills that you already possess. Knowing how to do the job is not enough – you will have to be able to engage employees in a completely different cultural context.
Another concern for companies is a foreign executive’s affordability in comparison to local talent, as there is often a significant compensation differential. Given the competition, it is imperative that you clearly convey the value you bring to an organization.
In addition to demonstrating how your past achievements translate and are applicable to the company’s current situation, show that you are a thought leader in your field. Position yourself as a subject matter expert. A good way to do so is by maintaining a blog. Blogging is becoming a very powerful tool in crafting a personal brand and a way to really take charge of your online reputation. Having a strong online presence has the additional benefit of making you more accessible to search consultants and potential employers by increasing your visibility, and can play an important role when it comes to salary negotiation.
Often executive search firms want to see that an individual has already done business in the country.  If this is not possible, there are other ways to demonstrate a commitment to your targeted region. One is by learning the local language. Whether you take classes or engage a private tutor in your home country, proactively acquiring the relevant language skills shows your intention to truly engage with people and can set you apart from other executives.
Expatriate assignments add a completely different dimension to an executive’s career and can be wonderful opportunities to grow both professionally and personally. However, they are almost invariably equally challenging. It is up to you to convince hiring managers that you are up to the task.


Gulnar Mewawala BECS Resume WriterGulnar Mewawala is a triple certified Master Resume Writer (MRW, ACRW, CPRW) with BlueSteps Executive Career Services (BECS), Wharton MBA, and TORI Award nominee. In her former professional life, she led senior-level executive searches across the Middle East at Spencer Stuart and developed the private equity and investment banking practice at a start-up search firm in Dubai. Her expertise is in creating powerful executive resumes, cover letters, bios, and LinkedIn profiles for C-level leaders, entrepreneurs, expatriates, and other professionals worldwide.
Connect with Gulnar and other coaches and resume writers at BlueSteps Executive Career Services (BECS) for your career management needs.

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